Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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What You値l Experience

What You’ll Experience in our Traditional Service

Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is a major characteristic of the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, dating to the sixteenth century. It represents the determination to ensure the words of worship remain accessible to the people as well as the clergy, and a way to easily unite voices in worship to the glory of God. Two thirds of the Book of Common Prayer are biblical, and the prayerbook includes the entire Book of Psalms. Worship follows the forms described in the book, and even a newcomer can follow the service with relative ease by following along in the prayerbook. Also in the book are numerous prayers and thanksgivings, as well as several historical documents of the church. The Book of Common Prayer is a starting point for our worship together, and although many of our prayers are written down, we do not limit prayer simply to that which is in the book. Stand. Sit. Different parts of the service call for different activities of the people. Generally speaking, we stand for hymns and the reading of texts from one of the four Gospels, the Peace, and certain prayers. We sit for instruction, Scripture readings, Psalms and the Sermon. We stand (knees permitting) for prayer and times of penitence.

Call to worship. The congregation stands and sings the opening hymn/song as the clergy enter. A cross leads the procession, a mark of the crucified and risen savior who leads us all. After the hymn/song, the celebrant greets the people and offers a prayer to begin the Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word is the first main section of a typical Sunday service. It includes prayer, hymns and readings from Holy Scripture. Normally it includes a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, and a reading from the New Testament. The Gospel is always read, during which time the congregation is invited to stand in reverence. A sermon usually follows.

Response to the Word. After the sermon, the congregation recites the Nicene Creed, which is the main statement of faith in the Christian church, and is said by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox, Anglicans and Episcopalians, and others the world over. After the creed normally follows

Prayers of the People. The congregation is invited to kneel as able. Remaining kneeling, the congregation then says a general confession of sin together, after which a priest stands and proclaims God’s forgiveness. The Peace. The congregation stands after the confession/absolution, and the priest announces “The Peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which the congregation responds, “And also with you.” The people then greet one another in the name of the Lord, often with a handshake or hug. This can be a noisy but joyful time in church.

The Great Thanksgiving. We call Holy Communion the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist (literally “Thanksgiving”). The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again. It is our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself. (BCP, 859)  We believe in the “Real Presence” of Christ in the bread in the wine; we truly encounter Christ in the sacrament of his Body and Blood. However, we do not have a specific doctrine (like transubstantiation or consubstantiation) as to how Christ becomes truly present.The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ we share in Holy Communion are the gifts of God for the people of God (BCP 364). Therefore, all are welcome to receive this holy sacrament at Little Fork Episcopal Church.

Sending Out. After communion, the priest blesses and dismisses the people. The congregation sings a final hymn as the clergy process out, again led by the cross. Everyone now is sent out to “do the work [God] has given us to do…as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord” (BCP 366).