Faith is to hear the melody of the future
Hope is to dance to it.
Coming to worship in a new church can be daunting. For those who are unfamiliar with the “dance steps” we understand any reluctance to “take to the floor.” You will never be put on the spot. This is a short description of what you can expect when you come to Sunday worship at St. Philip’s. As God’s holy angels always say upon appearing to an unsuspecting disciple: “Do not be afraid.”
As you enter the Sanctuary, a greeter will welcome you and give you a bulletin for that Sunday’s worship service. You may sit anywhere! The bulletin will give you everything you need to participate in the service – from the words and prayers to say, whether to sit, kneel or stand. Everything is there so that you may follow along. We have a beautiful organ, amazing choir and we all sing. The bulletin will give you the references to the blue hymnal (song book) which is right there at the pews. We enter the Sanctuary with reference and quiet.
As we stated in the “About” section of this website, worship is the central experience of our lives as church and as God’s people. Taking Jesus’s promise with great seriousness: That whenever two or three of us gather in his Name, the Risen One will be in our midst, our understanding and practice of worship is rooted in the reality of this promise. This means that the primary purpose of worship is to make room for the Lord in our midst and then to pay attention to what life with the Risen One is like. From these two anchor points, we offer everything else in response. So, for example, worship at St. Philip’s will challenge as much as it comforts. Our worship relies on the ancient and reliable traditions of those before us. Yet, at the same time, we recognize that that tradition is a living thing and that God’s new life demands new expressions.
1. The Entrance Rite begins with the opening hymn sung by the congregation and choir as the Procession, consisting of those who have specific responsibilities for leading the day’s worship, moves down the center aisle. When these liturgical officers are in place, the congregation offers prayers and a song (see Bulletin) to remind us of the reason we have assembled.
2. The congregation then sits in anticipation for hearing the scriptures of the day. But first, there is a “Word for the Children,” which seeks to prepare the children for their own Sunday School lesson for that day. After this brief word from Fr. Michael, the children process to their class and the rest of us prepare ourselves for our adult learning and worship.
3. Each Sunday we read three biblical lessons plus we sing the appointed psalm (see Bulletin) The sermon by Fr. Michael concludes this “learning” by honoring the integrity of the biblical witness and placing this meaning into the hands of the people to live and to share. Silence follows as an opportunity to reflect individually on what was offered.
4. The Prayers follow. We keep the prayers as a response to what we have heard. The Nicene Creed is offered, followed by the Prayers of the People and then the Confession of Sin. (See Bulletin) At this point, we have completed the first half of our worship referred to as the “Liturgy of the Word.” We conclude this part by exchanging of the Peace, Community Announcements, and the blessing of birthdays and anniversaries.
The second half of the service is called the “Liturgy of the Altar,” where, in the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ, we are concretely given what we have previously experienced as a reminder.
5. At the invitation to come forward to receive the Sacrament, ushers will direct you to move down the center aisle and to kneel (if you can; otherwise stand) and receive the consecrated (blessed) elements. Extend your hands to receive the bread; either guide the chalice (the cup) to your lips and take a sip or take the bread (wafer) that you have been given and dip it in the cup, then quietly return to your seat.
6. The Worship concludes with all of us offering a prayer of Thanksgiving for what we have received and what God calls us to be (see Bulletin). A closing hymn is sung and then Fr. Michael dismisses us to return to the world as God’s ambassadors. We’re done. You did it.
Some of the congregation leave at this point, while others stay to listen to the beautiful post-lude played by our minister of music.
One other thing: Ask questions after the service if you are unsure about something. If you would like to have a more personal and formal chat with Fr. Michael about your experience, we encourage you to please ask him.
WHOEVER YOU ARE, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.