Holy Eucharist at St. James’ Church
The Eucharist (sometimes called Mass, Holy Communion, the Great Thanksgiving), is a sacrament of the Church. The Church teaches that this means God makes Grace manifest to us in the actions we take. In sharing bread and wine in the manner that Jesus taught, we understand that we are in his presence- strengthened for God’s work in the world, nurtured in God’s love, and that God’s healing and forgiveness is available to us.
In the Anglican Communion we often use a document called the Book of Common Prayer to order our worship. It contains texts authorized by the Church for public worship. The current prayer book was issued in 1979, and is the primary source material of worship at St. James’. We may also draw on materials from other religious and spiritual traditions, along with prayers, music and chant developed here.
Our principal service is at 8:30 AM on Sunday Morning. We attempt to create an atmosphere that is prayerful, reverent and both familiar and spiritually challenging.
Like most Episcopal Churches, the Eucharist begins with a hymn sung in a procession led by the Cross. We continue with the singing of one of the ancient hymns of gathering – the Kyrie (Lord have mercy) or the Gloria (Glory to God in the highest) and an opening prayer called a Collect.
After the gathering is completed, we are seated to hear lessons from Scripture- usually one from Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament), one from the Epistles (ancient teaching letters of the Church), and then a portion of the Gospel. Our lessons are chosen from the Revised Common Lectionary- in most Episcopal, Lutheran and Roman churches the same lessons are being read each Sunday throughout the world.
After a homily (sermon) we continue with the Nicene Creed and the Prayers of the People. These prayers are not fixed, but allow people to express special need, concerns and thanksgivings, either silently or aloud. On most Sundays, a prayer of confession follows.
At this point, our common learning, prayer, and confession of sin has been completed, and we share the peace- in the form of an embrace or shaking of hands – and prepare to offer our Great Thanksgiving – the offering of ourselves to God in the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood.
After sharing in Communion, we’ll sing a final hymn before we are bid in the dismissal to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” In essence, now that you have been fed, go seek to plant the seeds of grace in others’ lives.