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Bread and Wine

Grace offers this page to help you feel more comfortable when you attend worship for the first time or to deepen your understanding of our service.  Use it as is best for you.  Some people want to read everything, others want to dive in here and there, and some prefer to experience the worship for themselves without reading anything in advance.  This section has been adapted with permission from the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.


The Meaning of Eucharist

Eucharist is a word that comes from Greek and means thanksgiving.  It is one of many terms for the worship service of Holy Communion.  The word Eucharist is found in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:23-4, “the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks (eucharisted), he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’”

In the last fifty years, Eucharist has become increasingly popular term for the worship service, because our worship of God is a thanksgiving for our deliverance from the power of sin, death and other things that are not of God in and through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.


Worship as Liturgy

Another word that might be unfamiliar is liturgy.  This word also is found in the Bible and means worship or service to God.  In the letter to the Hebrews, we read, "[Moses] sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship (liturgy)" (Hebrews 9:21).

The word liturgy comes from Ancient Greek where it signified "public service" or "public work."  The word's origin reveals that the worship of God is a public work.  In other words, it is done for the good of the world.

Although people frequently believe a worship service is something done by humans, God actually does the liturgy, because it continues Christ's work of recalling a people who have turned away from God.  Humanity's waywardness from God is seen in the frequent news stories of crime, war and corruption.  We also see it in our hateful thoughts and hurtful words or actions towards others and our failures to help others who are in need.

We participate in God's redeeming work for the world in the liturgy.  The story of God and the world, as seen in the scriptures, is of God reaching out to recall a wayward world to the full richness of life desired by God in creation.  God first calls a people to be a light to the world.  When this people fails to keep God's holy ways, God sends prophets to call them back.  Finally, God sends the only son, Jesus, who gives his life on behalf of all the peoples of the world.  This work continues through the gift of God's Spirit, called the Holy Spirit, who filled the first disciples with the presence and power of God to proclaim and to continue God's redeeming work.


Structue of the Service

Every worship service of any type has a structure even for church's that claim there is none. This structure is simply what normally happens at a particular point in the service.  In the Episcopal worship service, there are four basic parts with subparts listed below:

  1. Entrance Liturgy
    1. Processional Hymn
    2. Opening Acclamation
    3. Collect for Purity
    4. Gloria or Other Hym of Praise
    5. Collect of the Day
  2. Liturgy of the Word
    1. Old Testament Lesson
    2. Psalm
    3. New Tesatment Lesson
    4. Gospel Hymn
    5. Gospel
    6. Sermon
    7. Profession of Faith
    8. Prayers of People
    9. Confession
    10. Peace
    11. Announcements
  3. Liturgy of the Table
    1. Offertory
    2. Lift Up Your Hearts
    3. Holy, Holy, Holy Song
    4. Eucharistic Prayer
    5. Lord's Prayer
    6. Breaking of the Bread
    7. Communion
    8. Post-communion Prayer
  4. Conclusion
    1. Blessing
    2. Recessional Hymn
    3. Dismissal

Arriving for the Service

If you can, arrive a few minutes before the service to give yourself time to get settled and to prepare yourself spiritually for the worship of God. The entrance is the double doors by the parking spaces reserved for you and other guests at the front of the church.  When you walk into the lobby, the entrance to the worship space is to your left, the bathrooms are straight ahead, and the nursery for children is down the hall to the left on the far side of the lobby.

When you are ready to enter the worship space, an usher will greet you at those double doors and give you a bulletin that will guide you through the service. You can sit anywhere you would like inside the worship space. Sometimes new people sit in the back just to check things out. Those of us who are short may like to sit nearer to the front so we can see!

In addition to the service leaflet, you will find a red Book of Common Prayer, or Prayer Book, in the pocket of one of the chairs in front of you. The Prayer Book contains the different prayers for the service. Your bulletin will give you page numbers to find those sections.

You will also find a dark blue book called “The Hymnal 1982” which has the hymns.  The first part of the hymnal has what is called service music.  These have an "S" in front of the number.  The second part has the hymns.  There is no "S" in front of their numbers.  Our priest also announces the page numbers in the Book of Common Prayer and the hymn numbers.


Processional Hymn

A few minutes before the service there will be music called the Prelude to help us gather ourselves and prepare for the service.

After the Prelude, our priest or a member of the Vestry, the church’s governing council, greets the congregation and announces the opening hymn. Everyone stands to sing this song, while a procession of liturgical ministers, people who have specific jobs in the service, walks down the center aisle toward the front of the church. The opening hymn unites us in our worship of God and the procession focuses our attention forward to God. The procession is led by the cross and you may see people bowing as it passes as a gesture of respect.


Opening Acclamation

Once the song is over the presider, the priest leading the service, says what is called the Opening Acclamation, “Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!” or another greeting and the people answer according to the particular greeting. These are all found on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer. Episcopal worship actively involves everyone in the worship of God. It is also rooted in the Bible. “Blessed be God” may be found in Psalm 66:20, 2 Corinthians 1:3 and other places in the Scripture.

 

Presider: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

In place of the above, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost

Celebrant: Alleluia. Christ is risen.
PeopleL The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

In Lent and on other penitential occasions.

Celebrant: Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins;
People: His mercy endures for ever.


Collect for Purity

A prayer normally follows the Opening Acclamation called the Collect for Purity. The prayer asks God to cleanse us of those things that would keep us from glorifying God in our worship.

This prayer dates to the 11th century and is found in the prayer books of Anglicans around the world. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, we are called Episcopalians, because we are members of The Episcopal Church and Anglicans because we are members of The Anglican Communion. We worship with people around the world in a centuries old tradition of faith. 

 

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Song of Praise

After the Collect for Purity or Opening Acclamation, if there is no Collect for Purity, there is a short piece of music praising God or asking for God’s mercy, if it is the season of Lent, when we reflect on the ways we have turned from God.

The song of praise generally is the Gloria, an ancient hymn of praise that begins with the words the angels sang to the shepherds when they announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:8-14.

Music like this, which is a regular part of the service, is found in the front of the 1982 Hymnal in a section where all the number are preceded by “S“ that stands for Service Music.  These are all marked in your bulletin.  Since these are a regular part of the worship, people frequently sing them from heart.  One of the beauties of the Episcopal worship is that with time it becomes part of our being.  As the prophet Jeremiah said, it becomes written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).

 

Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

On other occasions the following is used

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

or this

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.

 


Collect of the Day

This prayer concludes the opening part of the service called the Entrance Liturgy or Rite. Entrance Rite gathers us together, or unites us, in and for our worship of the living God.  All of the collects of the day are in the Book of Common Prayer.  The collect for that Sunday is on the bulletin insert.

The prayer is called a collect because in the 5th Century it was said to collect the people together before the service. This prayer now concludes the Entrance Rite, whose purpose again is to gather us together in heart, mind, and body for the worship of God.

There is a different collect for each Sunday and major celebration in the church year. These prayers recall the great events of our faith such as Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter day and the gift of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, a word from Greek that means fifty, because this took place fifty days after Easter.  They draw us deeper into our relationship with God the Father, who we see in and through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Collect for Easter

O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for Pentecost

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Readings and Sermon

We sit to hear the readings. Hearing the Word of God is to our worship and faith. The book of Revelation says, "Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near" (1:3).

There are normally four biblical readings each Sunday. Over the three-year cycle, called a lectionary, much of the Bible is read aloud during the Eucharist. The readings are on an insert in your bulletin.

Generally, there is a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament. Although called old, this testament is still valid for Christians. A member of the congregation reads the lessons.

A psalm follows the Old Testament reading. The psalms were hymns sung for worship in the ancient Jewish Temple in Israel. Christians have said, sung and prayed these for centuries, because they beautifully express to God all the human emotions.

A young person leads the psalm that is said responsively with the congregation. Whether young or old, all are important and involved in our praise of God.

Next comes a reading from the Christian Scriptures or New Testament. These were originally letters, sermons, and histories of the earliest Christians. Although they spoke to particular situations, the principles that guided them still guide us today.

The last reading is from one of four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Gospel means Good News. The Gospel is read in the middle of the congregation, symbolic that Christ, the Word of God, is in our midst.  Since the Gospel tells the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, people stand and face the person reading it out of respect for Jesus.  A verse or two of a hymn is sung before and after the Gospel reading.

Following the Gospel a sermon is preached, usually by an ordained person but occasionally by a lay person. The sermon connects what we have heard in one or more of the readings with our day-to-day lives so that we might live more faithfully in the image of Christ.

Responses to the Reading and Gospel

The reader announces the lesson saying,
A Reading (Lesson) from ____________ .

After each Reading, the Reader says, The Word of the Lord.

The people respond, Thanks be to God.

All standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to_________ .
The People answer, Glory to you, Lord Christ.

After the Gospel, the Deacon or Priest says,The Gospel of the Lord.

The people answer, Praise to you, Lord Christ.


Healing Litany

On the first Sunday of the month, we stand after the sermon to pray the Healig Litany for people who are on our hearts and minds, others who are in need of healing and those who work in the medical field. People may come forward for anointing with holy oil, laying on of hands and prayer for themselves or others. We follow the ancient practice of the earliest Christians as seen in James 5:14-16.

Episcopalians believe God’s healing power works through our bodies which God created with an incredible ability to heal, through modern medical treatments and medicine, through the anointing of oil and prayer, and through ways we cannot imagine. While people come forward for prayer, the congregation is invited to sit for a time of prayer or contemplation while our music minister plays the piano.


Profession of Faith

We say a profession of faith in response to the readings of scripture and the sermon.  The Nicene Creed is an ancient statement of faith used by most Christian churches. This faith statement binds us together with Christians of all generations and across the globe. It is called the Nicene Creed because the church’s bishops crafted it in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor in 325 A.D. The Creed, in brief, tells the biblical faith story and summarizes our beliefs about God, who is, in a way that goes beyond our full understanding, one being in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The largest section focuses upon the birth, death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The word Christ comes from a Greek word that means anointed or chosen. It is a translation of the Hebrew word messiah. Jesus was chosen by God to reveal God’s great love for the world, to free us from the power of sin and death and all those things that limit our lives and keep us from living life in the fullness and richness which God intended for us. Through Jesus, God becomes our Father, who loves us without reservation or end, and we receive the Holy Spirit, the gift of God’s ongoing presence and power in the world and in our lives.

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic

The Creed also includes our views about the church, the body of Christ, and the life of faith. When we say that the church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic,” we confess something that Is at the same time a reality through the Holy Spirit that unites and sanctifies the faithful and is an ideal for which we long and work.

The word catholic comes from the Greek word that means universal. The Episcopal Church is part of the body of Christ that goes beyond the limits of space and time since it not only exists across the ages and around the world but also in the mind of God.

Apostolic means that we continue in the way of Jesus’ first followers, in the “apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers,” as shown in Acts 2:42. It also means that we are sent out to proclaim the Good News of Christ. Apostle coms from a Greek word that means “sent out.” We are sent out to those who are in need physically by empowering them to live fuller lives and spiritually by bringing others to Christ, who is the full revelation of God and humanity.

The Creed ends with Amen, which indicates that it is not only a statement of beliefs, but a prayer that invites us deeper into mysteries that go beyond our understanding and into our relationship with God.

An excellent resource to learn more about the beliefs encapsulated in the Creed is the book by Luke Timothy Johnson, The Nicene Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


Prayers of People

The Prayers of the People are a series of petitions and thanksgivings led by a lay person with the response by the entire assembly. The petitions include prayers for the Church, the world, the nation, those who are sick and those who have died. The presider concludes these prayers with a collect that “collects” our prayers together.

There are six forms found in the Book of Common Prayer. Form III is shown below. Other forms may be used as well since these six are only examples. At Grace, we rotate the forms and use other ones written in accordance with the biblical readings of a particular Sunday.

Form III

The Leader and People pray responsively

Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church;
That we all may be one.

Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you; 
That your Name may be glorified by all people.

We pray for all bishops, priests, and deacons;
That they may be faithful ministers of your Word and Sacraments.

We pray for all who govern and hold authority in the nations of the world;
That there may be justice and peace on the earth.

Give us grace to do your will in all that we undertake; 
That our works may find favor in your sight.

Have compassion on those who suffer from any grief or trouble; 
That they may be delivered from their distress.

Give to the departed eternal rest.
Let light perpetual shine upon them.

We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy;
May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.

Let us pray for our own needs and those of others.

Silence

The People may add their own petitions.

The Celebrant adds a concluding Collect


Confession

After the prayers, we confess our sins to God except during the season of Easter when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ that redeems us from sin. The confession offers an opportunity to acknowledge together the ways we have failed to love God and the people in our lives whether family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or chance aquaintances. At the conclusion of the confession, the presider says the absolution, words reminding us that God forgives our sins.

The prayers conclude with an invitation for those who are celebrating a birthday or anniversary to come forward for a prayer.  This moment reveals that, while we are members of the Body of Christ, God loves us individually, knowing even the number of hairs on our head.

Confession

The Deacon or Celebrant says

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence may be kept.

Minister and People

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

The Bishop, when present, or the Priest, stands and says

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.


The Peace

The presider then says, “The Peace of Christ be always with you!” And the congregation responds, “And also with you!” People then greet each other with a handshake, hug, kiss or other sign of peace and words such as “Peace be with you” answered by “And also with you.” This moment follows the Apostle Paul’s injunction to the early Christians to greet one another with a holy kiss.

The Peace can be an awkward moment for people who are new to Grace since they may not know people in the church. Although seemingly an exuberant 7th inning type stretch, when people leave their seats to greet one another and joyfully visit with one another, this ritual shows our need for and God’s power to restore our relationships with one another and with God.

Sin, those things that we have done or left undone and that go against God’s will for us and for our world, divide us from one another and from God. Having confessed those things and having received the assurance of God’s forgiveness, we are able to greet one another in the peace of Christ knowing that Jesus has renewed our bonds with one another and with God. We may then approach the Lord's table together as one people, united, redeemed and renewed by the mercy of our loving God.


Announcements

The announcements follow the Peace.  Although not a formal part of the service, it importantly tells people what is happening in the congregation and offers them opportunities to serve in various ministries and to pray for the needs of the faith community.

Offering

 After the announcements, all are invited to give to God from the great bounty God has given to each of us. Those who are new to the congregation are asked to fill out the guest card and make that their offering.

The ushers then bring forward the congregation’s offering of bread and wine to God for the communion meal. We use unleavened, wheat bread, since Jesus most likely ate unleavened bread at the Last Supper with the disciples, since it was the time of the Jewish Passover.

The bread is unleavened, because according to scripture, there was no time for the bread to rise since the Hebrew people had to leave Egypt quickly to escape slavery (Exodus 12:33-34). Later in Jewish history, leaven came to symbolize sin. Jews removed all leaven from their houses at the Passover to enact ritually their being cleansed from all that is not of God. The unleavened bread also symbolizes that Jesus was without sin.

Bread and wine also signify the gift of God’s creation and the work of human hands. Bread originates in sheaves of grain. The wheat must be separated from the chaff, ground into flour, and baked to make bread. Grapes must be crushed and fermented to produce wine.

A collection of money is taken at this point. Often a hymn is sung or music played while the ushers take the collection. Our offering supports God’s work in the church and community.
During this time, the altar table is prepared for the communion meal.


Liturgy of the Table

The first part of the worship service, the Liturgy of the Word, prepares us for the second part, the Liturgy of the Table, in which we recall Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples and in which we encounter Jesus in the bread and the wine that represent and in a mysterious way are his body and blood.


Great Thanksgiving

The Eucharistic prayer is called the Great Thanksgiving, because we give thanks for Jesus's sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection that raises us to new life in Christ.  The extended prayer recreates in miniature the last week of Jesus' life.

The Book of Common Prayer offers four different Eucharistic prayers that are rotated seasonally at Grace.  Occasionally we take advantage of the great wealth of prayer within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion to use other prayers to vary and to deepen our worship.


 

Lift Up Your Hearts

The prayer begins with a dialogue between the priest and the assembly called the Sursum Corda, a Latin phrase that means "lift hearts," because the presider says to the congregation, "Lift up your hearts."  This dialogue has been a part of eucharitic prayers since at least the third century A.D. The injunction might have originated in Jewish worship calling the faithful to stand and to put their hearts in the heavenly temple.

After the Sursum Corda follows a brief section of Praise and Thanksgiving for the mighty acts of God in creation.  A Proper Preface provides the context of the church year or event such as a baptism.

This section culminates with the Sanctus, "Holy, Holy, Holy."  The prophet Isaiah in a vision saw the heavenly host singing this song in the heavenly throne room (Isaiah 6:1-3).  Those present join their voices with "angels and archangels" in the worship of the living God.  The last lines of the Sanctus come from the words that greeted Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the Highest!"

Sursum Corda

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People:      And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People:      We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People:      It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Praise and Thanksgiving

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of
heaven and earth.

Proper Preface

Through Jesus Christ our Lord; who on the first day of the
week overcame death and the grave, and by his glorious
resurrection opened to us the way of everlasting life.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and
Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever
sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Sanctus

Celebrant and People:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.


Lord's Supper

After the Sanctus, following Jesus' example at his Last Supper, the priest takes the bread and says as Jesus did, "This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me." This is followed by the wine.

This section is called the Insitution, because Jesus started or instituted the tradition of the Lord's Supper.  Episcopalians have the Lord's Supper, also called Holy Communion, Mass, Eucharist and the Lord's Table every Sunday to recall and to celebrate the central fact of the Christian faith: the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

After the remembrance of the Last Supper, the priest asks the Holy Spirit to sanctify the bread and the wine that they may be the body and blood of Christ.  Episcopalians believe that, although the bread and wine remain bread and wine, Christ is spiritually present in them.  This is called a sacrament, "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."  In a way that transcends our understanding, we enconter Jesus in the bread and wine as his two disciples did, after his resurrection, when they recognized Christ's presence when he broke the bread with them in Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31).  The bread and the wine are a source of spiritual power for the faithful because of Christ's presence.

The prayer concludes with what is called the Great Amen.  The word Amen comes from a Hebrew word that means "so be it."  The congregation gives their agreement to all that has been said not only in the eucharistic prayer but also to the redeeming significance of Christ's death and resurrection for their lives and for the world.

Example from Eucharistic Prayer A in Book of Common Prayer

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us 
for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become 
subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus 
Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human 
nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the 
God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, 
in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole 
world.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our 
Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks 
to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, 
eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the 
remembrance of me."

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given 
thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: 
This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you 
and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink 
it, do this for the remembrance of me."

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Celebrant and People:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

The Celebrant continues,

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in 
this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, 
resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the 
Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new 
and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully 
receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, 
and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints 
into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and 
with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor 
and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.


 

Lord's and Episcopal Prayer

After the Eucharistic prayer, everyone joins in praying the words taught known as the Lord's Prayer.  Although some people maintain that the only valid form of prayer is informal or extemporaneous, Jesus taught a form prayer when he taught his disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-4).

Episcopalians follow Christ's example in using form or set prayers in our worship of God.  The prayers of the worship service in the Episcopal tradition are those of the Body of Christ rather than any one individual.  They are drawn from the Holy Scriptures.  The Holy Spirit inspires the writing and the selection of prayers some of which are recent and others are ancient.  The tradition of the faith lives and breathes through the work of God. 

 

And now, as our Savior
Christ has taught us,
we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


Breaking of the Bread

 

When we eat the bread and drink the wine, we participate in Christ's death and resurrection.  The moment is a powerful communion with one another and with God.  Regardless of a person's place in society, all stand together to receive the gift God gives to us in and through Jesus Christ.  Episcopalians place one hand over another forming a cross.  The bread is placed in our hands instead of our taking it, because to receive the gifts of God we must come with open hands and heart.

We use real bread and real wine since Jesus did at his Last Supper.  For those who are gluten intolerant, gluten free wafers are available.  We use a common cup for the wine symbolic of our unity in Christ.  Some worry that germs may be transmitted because of the common cup, this method has been used for thousands of years and millions of people safely as has benn also shown in scientific studies (William Lobdell, "Does Communion Cup Runneth Over with Germs?" Los Angeles Times, January 1, 2005).  Nonetheless, if a person wishes to receive only the bread or only the wine for whatever reason, Episcopalians believe that Christ is fully present in the bread and the wine.  One receives neither more nor less from one or the other or both.

After taking communion, the high point of the service, the worship ends quickly.  With our lives renewed through the Word of God in Scripture and the sacrament of bread and wine, we are sent out to proclaim the Good News of God in Jesus Christ in word and deed.