St. Mark's Episcopal Church

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Worship in the Episcopal Church
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Worship in the Episcopal Church is drawn from the Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, for the Church of England, and revised over the years, most recently in 1979. The Prayer Book contains the forms for celebrating the Holy Eucharist, the principal worship service on Sundays, as well as for daily worship in the form of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayers, Evening Prayer, and Compline. The Prayer Book also includes prayers for various occasions, the Psalms for use in worship and private devotion, the calendar for the Christian year, forms for special worship services, and an outline of the Christian Faith, commonly called the Catechism.
 
The Holy Eucharist celebrates the hearing of God’s word, and the responding to God’s word by sharing in the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at Holy Communion. The Holy Eucharist includes praising God usually by reading two or three Scripture selections, affirming the Church’s statement of faith, praying for ourselves and the world around us, confessing our sins and receiving assurance of forgiveness, and recalling and making present Jesus’ Last Supper.

 
Daily worship includes praising God by reading Scripture, affirming the Church’s statement of faith, and intensively praying for ourselves and the world around us.
 
Episcopal worship is participatory. The congregation is expected to be actively involved, rather than passively listening to the clergy for an hour. The term “liturgy” means “work of the people,” and in the Episcopal Church the people get a workout! Not only are the people encouraged to respond to what’s going on throughout the service, they also stand, sit, and kneel (as able). The general rule is to stand to praise (for singing, affirming the Church’s faith, and hearing the Gospel – the Good News of Jesus Christ – contained in the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible), sit for listening (to the announcements, the other Scripture readings, and the sermon), and kneel for praying (as an act of humility before God).
 
The Episcopal Church observes the traditional Christian calendar in which we move through the life of Jesus during the course of a year. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. Christmas itself lasts twelve days, after which we celebrate the Epiphany, the adoration of Jesus by the magi at which the light of Christ breaks out into the world. Lent, the forty days of penitential preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. The most deeply spiritual time of the year takes place during the Holy Week before Easter in which we commemorate the last days of Jesus on earth, culminating in his resurrection on Easter Sunday. During the Easter season, we focus particularly on the risen Christ in the early Church, culminating in Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, when Jesus’ followers were filled with the Holy Spirit and sent into the world to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
 
During all of these seasons, the Scripture readings are appointed for their relevance to the events being commemorated. During the rest of the year in the season after Pentecost, the New Testament is read sequentially each Sunday so the congregation can experience the total teaching and experience of Jesus and of the writings of the authors of the letters contained in the New Testament of the Bible. Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) lessons are appointed to correspond with the themes of the other readings.
 
Throughout the year, on days other than Sundays, the Episcopal Church celebrates the lives of saints, with relevant Scripture lessons and stories of their mission and ministry, to encourage us in our faith journey and provide us an example of how to walk in the way of Christ.


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