We begin the second part of the liturgy, the Holy Communion, with the offertory sentence.
The foundation and center of worship is sacrifice. In the tradition of our faith, sacrifice is not
a painful loss imposed by God, but rather a joyful affirmation of thanksgiving for the
communion which God has already made possible.
We bring our alms—gifts of money and material goods—because the life of our community depends upon our sharing.
But more importantly, the placement of these gifts on the Altar represents the placing of our lives into God’s hands.
We do this thankfully because we know that everything we have has come to us from God. We do this faithfully because
we know we can trust God to provide.
In making our sacrifice, we participate in the sacrifice of Christ himself, thankfully and faithfully entrusting his life to God’s hands — and receiving it back to bring life to the world.
This is the Table of Jesus, not the Table of Trinity Episcopal Church, Troy, Ohio.
We invite all who seek to walk in faith to join us at the Altar, sharing in Christ’s sustaining life.
You may participate by receiving the Bread and Wine, or by receiving only the Bread or only the Wine.
Or you may come to the Altar for a blessing while others come for Communion. Instead of receiving the Bread and Wine, you may place your hands over your heart. The Priest will pray for God’s blessing upon you.
The first part of the service is called “The Liturgy of the Word.” We hear and respond to the Scriptures. There are lessons from the Hebrew Bible (the “Old Testament”) and from the Epistles (letters circulated in the early Church). We believe that God is able to speak to us as we wrestle with the ancient words of Scripture, spoken in God’s name by our ancestors in the faith. We are reminded through listening to Scripture that God continues to be present in our own day.
We respond to the Word heard and proclaimed by reciting the Nicene Creed.
The Creed began as a three-fold response to questions beginning, “Do you believe . . .?” spoken just before Baptism.
It is much more than a statement of religious beliefs. It is a proclamation of trust and a promise to live as Jesus lived:
● A life undivided against itself, solely dedicated to God.
● A life fully shared with our sisters and brothers, God’s children, just as Christ took on our human life in order to walk with us.
● A life in communion with all who follow Jesus, sharing in the completion of God’s reconciling work in Christ, by the power of
the Holy Spirit among us.
These realities are mysteries. No words can exhaust their meaning.
The words of the creed are poetic - the best effort of the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries to speak a truth beyond comprehension.
The words are communal, they are analogies on which the Church has been able to agree, recognizing that each Christian is still responsible for his or her own unique witness to the truth of God in Christ.
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
LITURGY OF THE WORD
THE CONFESSION AND THE PEACE
The Liturgy of the Church is to reconnect us with our source and highest good in God. It forms us into the body of Christ, and individually as members of it. It strengthens us for our mission – for Christ’s mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and bringing Good News to the poor. May God’s will be done on earth as in heaven, as we are sent out into the world, nourished and transformed as a people of God.
The final prayer reminds us that as Christians, strengthened by the Eucharist and empowered by the Holy Spirit, it is our mission to serve the world in Christ's name, to literally be the body, the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and mouth of Jesus in our communities.
The table is set and the celebrant greets the people, inviting them to participate with their whole heart in the prayer of Great Thanksgiving.
The Gospel, or "good news" is a record of what Jesus himself said and did, and is always given
the highest honor. This is why we stand when it is read. The reading of the Gospel symbolizes
the presence of Christ, reminding us that Jesus lives and works through his people,the Church.
No written words, however ancient and revered, can replace the authority of the crucified and
living Jesus Christ. He is known in Word proclaimed, in the gathering of God’s people, and in the breaking and sharing of the bread.
Christ is present among us by the power of the Holy Spirit, leading us into truth, transforming our lives, and redeeming our world. The poser of the Gospel is not simply a book; it is the presence of the One of whom the book speaks.
INVITATION TO COMMUNION
Our opening acclamation is our way of greeting one another and affirming our conviction that God is gathered with us. (We are the performers; God is the audience! ) It marks the formal beginning of our worship, focuses our attention on God, and joins our praise with the people of God across time. We sing the Gloria, a hymn of praise that comes from the song of the angels in Luke 2:14.
The opening rituals of our liturgy help us to mark a threshold between the world and the Realm of God. The Procession represents the journey of faith and symbolizes our movement this morning from scattered homes to this gathering that holds up Christ in our midst. We are led by the Cross carried by the acolyte called the crucifer. It is the symbol of the whole church as we march towards reconciliation of ourselves and our world. The processional candles represent the light of the Holy Spirit. Some churches will also include the Gospel Book in procession, directly in front of the priest, who will proclaim the Gospel and offer a sermon or homily.
The Gospel Book is a reminder that in Jesus the Eternal self-expression of God (the Word) became visible and present to us. We gather around the Gospel message, not only to hear the words, but to witness the Word made flesh, and together we become that Word as Christ’s ongoing presence in the world.
To pray for the Church, the world, others, and ourselves is one of the fundamental reasons we come to God in worship, and is an obligation we bring from Baptism. Our prayers take us out into the larger world. We go out to hospital rooms and nursing homes. We visit with those who are shut-in or ill. We go to the halls of government and into the places of commerce. The prayers guide us into churches around the globe and into places of violence, famine, and disaster. We visit the saints who have gone before us; and we stand with the weak, the broken, and poor. Our prayers of thanksgiving remind us of the deep and powerful blessings we have received.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
We then come to the heart of the Eucharist, recalling Jesus' last supper with the disciples, shared the day before his crucifixion. This narrative is drawn almost word for word from the Biblical accounts in Luke (22:19-22) and Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (11:23-25).
Over the centuries, Christians have been divided over how we understand what happens
to the bread and the wine. Anglican teaching is that when we consume the bread and wine
of the Holy Communion, Christ is really present in us, not in some cannibalistic way,
but in our hearts by faith.
The emphasis is upon what happens to us, the transformation of our lives, rather than upon what happens to the bread and wine. We sanctify, make holy, the bread and wine that we may be holy people, strengthened for the work we have ahead of us, to be Christ's body in the world and feed others as God has fed us.
BOND TOGETHER THROUGH WORSHIP
Our worship consists of two main "parts" the Liturgy of the Word and the Holy Communion. Liturgy means "the work
of the people in the Episcopal Church, Sunday worship binds us together as a parish, and guides, nourishes, and forms
as Christians. We have doctrines or confession that we all must accept. Rather, "lex orandi, lex credendi" -- we pray
what we believe. It is our liturgy--our common work--that reminds us that we are a people of God. We bring our lives
and our world with us into this place. Because it is sacred space, we hope to see our lives and our world in a different light as a result of
our being here; that they may be sacred as well.
The confession is a time to reflect on our own personal choices and decisions, to see where we have been wrong or at fault, and to offer those things up to God.
Following the confession, the priest pronounces an absolution, and we gratefully accept forgiveness as we say Amen."
To exchange the Peace of Christ is to recognize and affirm that it is Christ who brings us together as members of one body.
-Redeeming our failures
-Transforming our loses
-Healing our wounds
When we exchange the peace with one another, we affirm that we are also reconciled with each other.
The Collect of the Day is a short prayer that concludes our gathering. It introduces a theme for worship and includes a bidding, a petition, and a pleading in Christ's name or an ascription to God's glory. The term "Collect" comes from the "collecting" of petitions of the people.