Sunday — The Lord’s Day — is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. At Palmer, our principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or Mass. These services on Sundays are accompanied by the singing of hymns, and additional parts of them are sung by the clergy and congregation at 9:00 and 11:00 AM in the fall, winter, and spring, and at 10:00 AM in the summer. Incense, which rises like the words of our prayers, is used weekly at 11:00 AM in the fall, winter, and spring, and at 10:00 AM in the summer. It is used occasionally at 9:00 AM in the fall, winter, and spring for special celebrations.
Holy Eucharist always includes praising God through our words or our songs, hearing and reflecting on readings from the Bible, praying both for ourselves and for the needs of the world, standing at the Lord’s Table to retell the story of salvation in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, recalling his words at his last meal with his friends, receiving bread and wine made holy food through the power of the Holy Spirit, and being sent out into the world bearing the same love and forgiveness that we have been given in our worship together as the people of God.
The words that we say in these services come from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, which unites us in a tradition with followers of Jesus Christ throughout the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Worship in this Christian tradition is said to be “liturgical,” meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that do not change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to those who participate. For our guests, liturgy may be uplifting . . . or confusing because of the movement — sitting, standing, kneeling, sung and spoken responses, and walking to the front of the church to receive a gift in outstretched hands. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: Once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the beauty and the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes now and then across the rest of your life with God. This dance begins in a community of faith that is centered on God’s love for the whole world and, therefore, continues as we leave the doors of the church on our Christian journey.