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 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. Here's another one.
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.). We sometimes use simple "paperless" tunes led by congregation members.
We use the authorized expansive language texts to broaden our image of God, because The Episcopal Church understands that "praying shapes believing" (lex orandi, lex credendi). Thus, if we pray using exclusively masculine imagery and pronouns for God, we begin to perceive that God is a man—and if God is a man, then "men become gods." We may use the St. Helena Psalter and Psalter for the Christian People.
We use other texts as approved by our bishop, The Right Reverend Gretchen Rehberg.
“…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, know that we're in conversation about what our "common prayer" may look like going forward. And yet another about how the BCP can be seen to have an evangelical bent.
Where are we now?
We're in the Season after Christmas. The Feast of Epiphany is January 6, 2020.
In the BCP, Christmas Day is one of the seven principal feasts. The Christmas season lasts twelve days, from Christmas Day until Jan. 5, the day before the Epiphany. The season includes Christmas Day, the First Sunday after Christmas Day, the Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and may include the Second Sunday after Christmas Day. In many parishes, the main liturgical celebrations of Christmas take place on Christmas Eve. The BOS includes a variety of resources for use during Christmas, including a form for a Station at a Christmas Crèche, a form for a Christmas Festival of Lessons and Music, and seasonal blessings for use during the Christmas season.
The manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The winter solstice was kept on Jan. 6 at some places during the first centuries of the Christian Era. In opposition to pagan festivals, Christians chose this day to celebrate the various manifestations, or "epiphanies," of Jesus' divinity. These showings of his divinity included his birth, the coming of the Magi, his baptism, and the Wedding at Cana where he miraculously changed water into wine. The day was called "The Feast of Lights." Celebration of the Son of God replaced celebration of the sun. Baptisms were done, and a season of preparation was instituted. It was later called Advent. The solstice was kept on Dec. 25 by the fourth century. Jesus' birth was celebrated on this day in both eastern and western churches. The western church commemorated the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6. The eastern church continued to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord and the Wedding at Cana on Jan. 6. In the east the day was called "Theophany" (manifestation of God). The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, in the BCP. The Baptism of our Lord is celebrated on the First Sunday after the Epiphany.
How do we walk the Way of Love in this time and this place?
Our framework for our way of life is articulated in our baptismal covenant, and we explore ways to live into those promises every day of our lives.
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 the following beginning with Ash Wednesday, which is coming soon. Check the calendar for more specifics as the days approach.
- 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 Band are led by Melissa Parkhurst, ethnonomusicologist. Our next offering is planned for All Saints Day, Nov. 3, 2019.
- Advent: The church year begins in Advent. As the season approaches, check the calendar for St. Mark's offerings.
- Christmas: While this may change in 2019 as we welcome new clergy leadership, in the past we have offered:
- "Blue Christmas"—a quiet, candlelit liturgy for those who have a difficult time with the season;
- Two services on Christmas Eve (one featuring the children in an informal "pageant" and also a "typical" small-church Midnight Mass with choir and organ;
- A meditative service on Christmas Day, focusing on the "Christ-mystery" (John 1) rather than the historical events in the Holy Land.
- All except "Blue Christmas" offer Holy Eucharist, and the two Christmas Eve services include a short carol-sing beforehand.
- Season after the Epiphany: This season begins on The Epiphany of our Lord (January 6) and continues to the start of Lent. It is a time of focusing on Jesus' coming into the world to save all the world.
- Lent: This season of return began on Ash Wednesday (February 26, 2020). Check the calendar for special liturgies throughout Lent.
- Holy Week: Palm Sunday (April 5, 2020), and other special services throughout the week, concluding with the Triduum (the three-in-one day from Thursday evening though Sunday evening): Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Day [April 12, 2020])