There are some words that it might be helpful for you to have defined as you contemplate a call to worship with us at The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist.
The first is worship. Worship literally means ascribing worth to someone or something. In Christian worship the congregation joins together to express its common agreement about the worthiness of God whom we know in Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
The vehicle by which we do this is the liturgy. Liturgy is the “work of the people.” This means that everyone gathered has a significant part to play – people of all ages, choirs, lay ministers and clergy alike. Together we sing hymns, we pray in unison or add our agreement to other prayers by saying the “Amen” at the conclusion of the prayers, we extend our hands to receive Christ’s presence in the Holy Communion. If we wish, we may make the sign of the cross, or bow at the holy Name of Jesus. There is something for everyone to do but nothing anyone must do. Generally, in Episcopal worship, the people stand to pray and sing praises. We sit for instruction and we kneel for Confession of Sin and, often, to receive Holy Communion.
A third important word describes the action of the service called the Holy Eucharist. In its original Greek form the word Eucharist means “thanks giving.” While we all do receive grace and spiritual sustenance for doing the work of God in Christ in our world, the primary reason we go to church is to give thanks to God for his abundant love and grace in our lives. Francis of Assisi said it well: “It is in giving that we receive.”
At St. John’s, the Eucharist is celebrated by the congregation twice on Sunday mornings: at 8:00 a.m. and again at 10:15 a.m. The 8:00 a.m. service includes organ music, a few congregational hymns and prayers from The Book of Common Prayer, our primary source of worship materials and instruction. It is a quiet and simple service. The 10:15 a.m. service is a bit more elaborate and includes, September through May, the ministry of our choir, more hymns, ancient chants, and children who have spent the first half of the service in Sunday School join us for Holy Communion.
Both services are followed by a popular social time called “Coffee Hour.” St. John’s coffee hours are notable for their delectable, if often rich, tasty, and home-baked goodies.