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 and the hymns to sing, 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. We enter the Sanctuary with reverence 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 “A Brief Teaching Word”. "The Brief Teaching Word" is a time when the Priest offers a brief explanation of the day's context or a community issue that relates directly to our worship. It is intended as a sign of respect for the congregation and our experience of worship as informed followers of Jesus.
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 it means to be the People of God.
5. At the invitation to come forward to receive Communion, the ushers will direct you to move down the center aisle and to kneel at the altar rail. If kneeling is a hardship, please stand to receive. When the consecrated bread is offered, please extend your hands, and the Celebrant will place the wafer on your palm for you to consume. When the Chalice (the Communion Cup) is offered by the Communion Assistant, please reverently guide the Cup to your lips and take a sip of the consecrated wine and then return to your seat. If you choose not to receive from the Common Cup, we ask that you concretely acknowledge "the Blood of Christ" by reverently touching the base of the chalice or with a simple bow of the head or by making the sign of the Cross. 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.