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 1982We 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.

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.). 

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 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, here's a piece on 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.

Liturgical SeasonS

Where are we now?

We're in Lent, a season in which we focus on our personal habits and practices (our "Rule of Life") and on our expression of our Christian discipleship. How do our habits and practices define us? How are they expressions of our knowledge that we are beloved by God? How do they reflect our gratitude for God's presence in our lives? How do they show our love for neighbor?

Our framework for our way of life is articulated in our baptismal covenant, and since the Great Vigil of Easter is an opportunity for baptism and for renewal of vows, Lent is an apt time to explore those promises.

Our next liturgical season is Easter—Fifty Days in which we celebrate new life in Christ's resurrection—the conquering of sin and death. 

SPECIAL DAYS

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.

  • Lent: This season of return began on Ash Wednesday (March 6). Check the calendar for special liturgies throughout Lent—we continue the Daily Office of morning prayer (at the church and via Zoom). Details in the calendar listings.
  • Holy Week: Palm Sunday, 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)
  • The Easter Season: This celebratory season begins with the services of the Great Vigil (the liturgical highlight of the year) and Easter Day and continues through The Great Fifty Days, concluding with the Day of Pentecost. Check the calendar for times and details.
  • 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, ethnonomusicologist. We celebrated a Gospel Music Masses during All Saints'/All Souls' worship on November 4; our next offering will be on the Day of Pentecost, May 20, 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. 

Monthly from October 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).