What to Expect: A Guide to Worship
The Center Of Our Worshipping Community: Eucharist
What we do each in worship each week is called Liturgy — literally translated from the Greek, it means the work of the people. Worship is not done "for us;" it is something we all do together. Worship is not an "experience;" it is a lively acting out of our faith and life. Worship is not about what "we get out of it;" worship is about what we put into it. In Christian worship, we are all the "performers." God is the "audience." For the most part, worship is a world of movement — exciting, life enhancing motion.
The table of Jesus Christ [the liturgy of Holy Communion] is at the center of our community, and of our liturgy. Everything flows toward and from that central event, not only in the liturgy but in all our life. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving, but it's difficult to be thankful when you are confused by what is taking place: Where do I go? What do I do? Do I sit, stand, or kneel? So we thought we'd offer some thoughts and suggestions about how we worship together in this community of faith.
When You Arrive
St. Martin is on the southwest corner of Atlantic Boulevard and the Intracoastal Waterway. There are two parking lots, one on the north side and one on the south side of the property. The church building is the larger building on the south side of the property. The entrance is on either side of the building through the double glass doors. Welcome!
First Things First
When you enter the church building, there are people who will greet you and those who will offer you a worship bulletin, which contains the service we will use for the day. These greeters will answer any of the questions you may have, or they will help you find the answer. You may also mention any special needs you have (for seating, Holy Communion, and the like). There is no 'assigned seating' (except for the leaders or special participants in the service), so you may sit where you like.
Singing The Songs
"Those who sing pray twice." – St. Augustine
Music is an essential part of worship. It can create a space for God to meet us, lift our spirits, and take us to places of prayer unattainable with words alone. Truly, St. Augustine was right. In worship, Episcopalians also sing. These songs are noted in your worship bulletin containing the service we will use for the day.
What's The Deal? Stand, Sit, Or Kneel?
There's a lot of movement in the service: sitting, standing, and kneeling, along with occasionally moving to various places. How and where we move is our acting out the different parts of the service. Kneeling is an act of deference to authority, honor to royalty, and contrition for sin. Typically, we kneel to confess our sins, to receive absolution, and to pray. When we stand, we do so to show respect. When we sit, we do so to convey our readiness to learn. Directions for what to do and when are in the bulletin, and are usually prompted by the leaders. You also can look for cues by watching your neighbor. But don't worry about having to do all of this right; or for those unable, about doing so at all. We think the most important thing is that you are here in worship. To learn more, see Movement in the Liturgy.
A Time for Listening and Silence
With all the movement, speaking, and singing in worship you might think it a constantly busy place. There is time in the liturgy, however, for listening and silence. Listen to the great sweeping stories of the people of God, the poetry of the prophets, the love letters to the early churches, the promise of the good news in Jesus Christ. Silence often follows for personal reflection.
Passing the Peace
During the liturgy, we are greeted with the words: "The peace of the Lord be with you." We are given time to turn to those around us to share the peace of our Lord with each other. This greeting is not a private one. Like everything else in liturgy which is spoken or acted out, this action has purpose and is an action of the community — it is a shared reality, a sign of reconciliation, love, and renewed relationships, the living symbol of the wholeness of the Christian community.
The Offering Plate — How much is enough?
Like most churches, St Martin exists financially mostly on donations or gifts from members made as financial promises or pledges. We also receive unpledged gifts which come largely from visitors and members not pledging.
We see money as a spiritual issue. The Lord wants us to be known not by what we have, but by our love for God and for each other. As Jesus Christ gave himself away for us, so too we are asked to give ourselves away to others. The main reason for giving to a church has more to do with cultivating a generous lifestyle, and less to do with paying bills. There is a genuine joy in giving to God•s church where your life is shaped spiritually and where you live out giving to and serving others.
Welcome To Communion
St Martin welcomes all baptized Christians to the table of Jesus Christ to receive forgiveness, strength, and new life in Holy Communion.
How To Receive Communion
When prompted by an usher, please come forward down the center aisle and kneel as you are able at the sanctuary rail. [If unable to kneel, you may stand.] When receiving Christ's body in the bread at Communion, rest one hand in the other, palms upward. If you intend to receive Christ's blood by drinking from the Chalice, you may immediately eat the bread. If you intend to receive Christ's blood by intinction, please continue holding the bread as you received it.
When the Chalice bearer comes to you, you may receive the wine by drinking from the Chalice. Please use one or both hands on the Chalice to help guide it to your lips. If you prefer intinction, the Chalice bearer will take the bread from your hand, intinct [that is, dip] the bread into the Chalice, and place the bread on your tongue.
After receiving the bread and the wine, it is appropriate to say "Amen." This is a way of saying "Yes. Let it be so for me." It's a way of inviting and recognizing God's work in your life.
After receiving the bread and the wine, you return to your seat by the side aisle.
Children not yet receiving Holy Communion, or others who do not wish to do so, are invited to come forward during Communion to receive a blessing. Indicate the desire to receive a blessing by crossing your arms over your chest before the bread and wine are offered.
Time to Go
After being nourished and refreshed in Jesus Christ and the Word of Promise for our new life, we say a prayer of thanks. Then, we are sent out from the service to share God's promise and be God's servant community in the world.