Preparing for Worship
When entering the narthex (foyer) of our church building, you will be greeted by greeters who will give you a warm and friendly welcome. The greeters will then introduce you to our guest host who will briefly share what to expect during our worship service, invite you to sign our Guest Book, and give you a welcome packet with information about our church. The guest host will lead you to an usher who will present you with the Sunday bulletin with the Order of Service and the weekly announcements. An usher will accompany you to a seat of your preference. As you enter the nave of the church you will feel an atmosphere of reverence as we prepare for worship. Worshipers usually join in the singing of contemporary songs prior to the start of the 10:15 a.m. worship service. Congregants may also view the television monitors in the narthex (foyer) or parish hall featuring our weekly announcements, activities, programs, and events.
The central focus, when entering the nave of the church building, is the altar or holy table, situated in the sanctuary, where the Blessed Sacrament is celebrated. On the altar are candles, symbolizing and reminding us that Jesus Christ is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). On the small (credence) table, situated to the back of the altar, are the vessels for communion. Two floral arrangements and two banners representing the liturgical seasons of the Christian year beautify the sanctuary area. In many Episcopal Churches, a lectern, at which the Word of God is proclaimed, and a pulpit, from which the Scriptures are preached, stands on either side of the altar. However, at Holy Sacrament, there is a pulpit/lectern where the Scriptures are proclaimed and preached and the Prayers of the People are read.
Episcopalians use the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and a Hymnal during their Sunday morning worship service. The form of service is called The Eucharist, which means “Thanksgiving.” The name of the service recalls when Christ gave thanks while instituting the Last Supper on the night He was betrayed. At Holy Sacrament, these books, as well as the Bible (New Revised Standard Version), can be found in front of you when seated. However, since we are a technically-advanced church, the entire order of our worship service is displayed via a projection system mounted in the front of the church. This makes it easier for members and guests alike to follow and participate in the service.
During the Eucharist, there will be occasions to sit, stand and kneel. Normally we sit during the reading of the Old and New Testament Lessons, the Psalm, the Sermon, the Announcements and the Offertory Anthem sung by the choir. We stand for the Processional and Entrance rite (Salutation, Prayer of Intent, and the canticle “Glory to God in the highest”), the singing of hymns, the reading of the Gospel, the affirmation of the Creed, the Prayers of the People, the Greeting of the Peace, and the Recessional. We kneel for the Confession of Sin, the Eucharistic Prayer (standing is optional), the Prayer after Communion and the Blessing.
The Worship Services
At Holy Sacrament, there are two celebrations of the Holy Eucharist on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. The former service is a Said Eucharist with hymns while the latter service is a Sung Holy Eucharist with choir. Each Sunday, the biblical readings, psalm, Prayers of the People and the Eucharistic Prayer are changed. There are other parts of the service that will reflect changes each Sunday. Our music is a mix of traditional and contemporary selections with accompaniment by an organ, keyboard and drums. As regards to the reception of the Communion, we believe that the Body and Blood of Christ is God's meal for God's people and therefore all baptized members of any Christian denomination are invited to participate and receive the Body and Blood of Christ (communion).
From September to June, at the commencement of the worship service, the children and young people assemble at the front of the gathering to receive a brief sermon /talk from the Rector before going to Christian Education classes.
Before and After the Eucharist
At Holy Sacrament, prior to the start of the 10:15 a.m. worship service, familiar contemporary songs are played and sung as we prepare to worship God. These are shown on projection screens. There are those who like to chat before entering the nave or worship area, while others prefer to kneel as a personal means of preparation for worship. Some people, on entering and leaving the church’s worship area either bow or genuflect (the bending of the right knee) as a matter of reverence to the reserved sacrament of Christ and the cross. At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving while others may sing the post-dismissal song as they leave the nave of the church building.
At the end of each Eucharistic service, the Clergy greet the people as they leave. Fellowship Hour takes place immediately following both services as a time for further fellowship among members and guests. Folllowing the 10:15 a.m. Eucharist, prayers for healing are offer to congregants by the Prayer Team at the communion rail.
In Episcopal Church worship, the clergy and lay ministers wear vestments to signify their particular ministries. At the Eucharist, the priest wears a white robe called an alb from his neck to his ankles. Over the alb, the priest wears a narrow and colored piece of fabric called a stole. Bishops and priests wear the stole over both shoulders while a deacon wears it over the left shoulder and tied on the right side. Bishops and priests also wear a circular, colored garment over the alb called a chasuble. The corresponding garment a deacon wears is called a dalmatic. In addition, bishops wear a pointed head dress called a miter (symbolic of the tongues of fire on the Day of Pentecost).
The members of the choir at Holy Sacrament wear an off-white/cream gown with a colored V-neck piece. The acolytes, lay readers and chalice bearers wear white gowns, similar to the priest, called albs. They also wear a rope around their waist called a cincture or girdle.
The chasuble, stole and other altar and pulpit paraments are usually made of rich, sometimes ornate fabric and are the displayed in the color according to the Seasons of the Church/Christian Liturgical Year. The liturgical colors are white/gold, green, red, purple and blue.
When you visit Holy Sacrament for worship you will feel at home here. We invite our guests to join us for Fellowship Hour after the service. Should you have any questions or would like to know more about our church or the Episcopal Church, please feel free to contact our church office at 954-432-8686 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org