We typically follow the orders of service which are found our Book of Common Prayer. While we love and appreciate this tradition, we also welcome and enjoy the spontaneity of trying something new and the energy which results.
We begin our worship by praising God through song and prayer, followed by readings from the Bible. These readings usually include a passage from the Old Testament and an excerpt from the Epistles, and always include a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is recited by the people together. Then a sermon, interpreting the appointed readings for the day is preached. At Trinity, on Youth Sundays, the children of the congregation are invited to lead many aspects of our Mass/Service. Their work and enthusiasm teaches us all! The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, a document which was written in the 4th Century and remains today the Church’s statement of faith. Following the Nicene Creed, the congregation prays together – for the Church, the world, and for those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. The presider concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession. In most seasons of the Church year (except for the fifty days of Easter), the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another.
In the Episcopal Church you can do the sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession one-on-one with a priest if you wish, but it is never mandatory. The forgiveness we find together on Sunday mornings is sufficient. The Confession is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution by the presider. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins. The members of the congregation then greet one another in God’s name with a sign of “peace,” by either shaking hands or giving hugs as they so feel moved. Feel free to leave your seat!
At the conclusion of “The Peace,” the priest stands at the altar set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers; raises his or her hands; and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be with You.” The Eucharistic Prayer begins, in which the presider tells the story of our faith from the beginning of Creation, to the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, to our continual turning away from God, to God’s calling us to return. Finally, the presider tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and of the night before his death on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him. The presider blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the presider breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the people of God.” The congregation then shares the consecrated bread and wine, which we gather around the altar to receive.
Everyone is welcome to receive the sacrament at Trinity, including young children. At the conclusion of our shared meal, we are then invited to say the post communion prayer, are offered a blessing by the presider and our worship concludes with a dismissal, charging us all to go forth in the name of Christ as his hands and feet in the world.
Two Eucharistic Rites are commonly used by the Episcopal Church: The modern and less-formal Rite II is usually used for most of the year, with the older and more formal Rite I being used for early morning services and during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent.