Worship at st. Mark's
Episcopalians understand that our worship together shapes who we are and how we live. It's that important.
Most of us come together at least weekly to share in "the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Holy Eucharist) as did the early Church. Our worship proclaims the mystery of a loving God, honors the beauty and dignity of being human, and shapes us for our service in the world as followers of the Way of Jesus. All those who are hungry for God are welcome at the Table.
We include children in our worship believing that whether or not they understand the words, they too are formed by the "gather-transform-send" shape of our corporate worship: word and table—listening, blessing, breaking, sharing.
Check for times and directions, and continue reading below if you'd like to learn more.
“Since Christian worship swims in creation as a fish swims in water, theology has no option but to accept the created world as a necessary component of every equation and conclusion it produces. Christian theology cannot talk of God, any more than Einstein could talk of energy, without including the ‘mass’ of the world squared by the constant of God’s eternal will to save in Christ.” —Fr. Aiden Kavanagh, On Liturgical Theology
The foundational texts for Sunday worship are the Holy Bible, the current revision (1979) of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Hymnal 1982. We are a liturgical church, that is our worship pattern is ordered (by our Book of Common Prayer) drawing on our rich heritage in the ancient traditions. Here's an article that introduces some of the appeal of liturgical worship to those who may be unfamiliar with it. And this piece describes some of the reasons we sing together, and sing chants and hymns both old and new. And here's one about the importance of imagination in liturgy.
At St. Mark's we draw liberally on texts and hymnals for the Episcopal Church (e.g., the Enriching our Worship series, the Book of Occasional Services, Lift Every Voice and Sing II; Wonder, Love, and Praise; Voices Found; My Heart Sings Out) and from texts and hymnals of other Anglican traditions (e.g. A New Zealand Prayer Book, Book of Alternative Services (Canada), and sometimes from other Christian traditions (e.g. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; United Church of Canada; United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church, etc.).
“…Liturgical tradition, in whatever Christian idiom, as the dynamic condition within which theological reflection is done, within which the Word of God is appropriately understood. This is because it is in the Church, of which the liturgy is the sustained expression and the life, that the various sources of theology function precisely as sources.” —Fr. Aiden Kavanagh, On Liturgical Theology
Here's a commentary on liturgical worship to get you thinking about worship. And here's a piece about worship styles that we DON'T employ—and why. And for those interested in conversations occurring in the larger church, here's a piece on the proposed revision of the current (1979) Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and what it might say about how we worship. And yet another about how the BCP can be seen to have an evangelical bent.
Where are we now?
We're in Lent, a season when we focus on the boundlessness of God's mercy and love for us—and our dependence on God if we are live a daily life of wholeness and love (eternal life). We acknowledge that we fall away from God, again and again, and in Lent we invite one another to return.
The season began on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14 this year) and continues until Easter. The last week before Easter Day is Holy Week.
Early Christians observed "a season of penitence and fasting" in preparation for the Paschal feast, or Pascha (BCP, pp. 264-265). The preparation originally was directed for converts to the faith about to be baptized, but later became more common practice as a spiritual discipline. The word Lent is from an Old English word meaning "spring," the time of lengthening days.
In the western church the 40 days of Lent extend from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, omitting Sundays, which continue to be observed as "little Easters"—although during Lent with some accommodation to a more somber, introspective tone.
Check the calendar frequently to see what liturgical celebrations and worship opportunities are coming up. We offer special liturgies for many occasions in the life of the Church and in the life of the wider world. Notably, we include:
- Feast Day Gospel Music Masses: On some of the great feasts of the church our mass (Holy Eucharist) draws its music from the wealth of American Roots music and music in the tradition of the African-American and Gospel churches. Our pickup Gospel Choir and Musicians are led by Melissa Parkhurst. Our next Gospel Music Masses are slated for the Day of Pentecost, May 20, and All Saints/All Souls worship on November 4.
- Advent: Deepen the preparatory journey to Christmas (Dec. 2 - 24, 2018) by joining our Advent Prayer Circle.
- Christmas: Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass, Christmas Day, and "Blue Christmas"
- Ash Wednesday: We offer morning, noon, and evening services and Ashes-to-go downtown. And throughout the day—"Ad-hoc Ashes" at the church building, if you can't make any of the other events.
- Lent: Check the calendar for Evening Liturgies throughout Lent—we offer something most evenings. Join the community in prayer.
- Holy Week: Palm Sunday, and other special services throughout the week, concluding with the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday)
- The Easter Season: Easter Vigil and Easter Day and continuing through The Great Fifty Days, concluding with the Day of Pentecost.
Monthly from September through May, on the second Sunday, we offer a Taizé-style service: a candlelit, reflective flow of short meditations, silence, and simple chants in the Taizé tradition (30 min).
Three-fold prayer practice
You've read above something about the importance of Holy Eucharist in the life of St. Mark's. "Eucharist" means thanksgiving, and It is the event in which we are grounded weekly in a grateful approach to life, rooted in "an attitude of gratitude."
The Daily Office is the Church’s daily act of prayer. Whether we say it in a group at a church or as an individual with morning coffee, the Office is our participation in the Church’s daily praise of God. Different psalms, readings and prayers are appointed for each day. At St. Mark's we encourage members to make use of some form of the Daily Office as part of their prayer life.
Seasonally we may offer Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer or Compline at the church building. Please check the calendar to look for current and upcoming offerings.
Through the Holy Spirit, God meets each of us right where we are—and a unique relationship is forged. That uniqueness is developed through engaging life in Christian community, and is shaped by our participation in the Eucharist and Daily Office. Christians also need individual and personal means, specific to their own style, to deepen that relationship with God. Personal devotions are a way to do this.
Through personal devotions, we each can experiment with forms of prayer that deepen intimacy with God, further illuminate our faith experience, and expand the scope of our relationship with Christ. Some make use of contemplation or meditation, or Centering Prayer; others may be attracted to intercession (praying for others such as using our Prayer Request link); some may be drawn to printed devotionals such as "Forward Day by Day" or "Jesus Calling"; still others may be drawn to "body prayer" engaged through walking or yoga.
We invite you to engage the practice of "Examen," popularized by the Jesuit, Ignatius, in the sixteenth century, as a means of identifying God's presence and movement in our lives day by day. Accessible for people of all ages including children, this means of daily recall and examination has proved a powerfully transformative expression of prayer for countless people regardless of denominational affiliation. Seasonal booklets available at the back of the church.
After a hiatus of a couple of years, we've reconvened our weekly Centering Prayer group to introduce newcomers to this rich practice and to nurture and support others in their personal discipline. Check the calendar for times.
At St. Mark's we occasionally offer spirituality retreats and other “schools of prayer” to introduce members to forms of personal devotions and to help them explore these; for updates, keep checking the calendar.
To make bread or love, to dig in the earth, to feed an animal or cook for a stranger—these activities require no extensive commentary, no lucid theology. All they require is someone willing to bend, reach, chop, stir. Most of these tasks are so full of pleasure that there is no need to complicate things by calling them holy. And yet these are the same activities that change lives, sometimes all at once and sometimes more slowly, the way dripping water changes stone. In a world where faith is often construed as a way of thinking, bodily practices remind the willing that faith is a way of life. ― Barbara Brown Taylor
"An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith"