LITURGICAL PRACTICES EXPLAINED

Prelude

The prelude sets the tone for the liturgy, gathers the faithful, helps to focus our thoughts toward prayer, and serves as a call to worship. 

Procession

At the beginning of worship the cross leads the procession, representing our baptismal journey from death to life. Some bow as the cross passes, honoring the mystery of salvation. At the conclusion of the liturgy the cross leads up forth to serve God in our daily lives.

Opening Hymn

A hymn at the procession is not required, but at St. Andrew's it is our practice to sing an opening hymn.

Sign of the Cross

The sign of the cross has been made by Christians since early times. We make the sign of the cross in remembrance of our baptism. It is a reminder of Gd's faithfulness throughout our lives, and it is an outward gesture that can shape our inner spirituality.

Colors of the Seasons

Colors of vestments, altar cloths, and other church decorations mark the different seasons and occasions of the church year. They remind us of Christ's life and work.

  • ​Purple/Blue expresses the waiting and expectation of Advent, the season of preparation for Christmas

  • White/Gold/Silver are used as colors of joy and festivity for Christmas, Easter, and All Saints Day.

  • Green representing growth is for the seasons after Epiphany and Pentecost when we focus on spiritual growth and the teachings of Jesus.

  • Black, the color of ashes, is appointed for Ash Wednesday, the most somber day of the church year.

  • Purple reflects penitence and is used during Lent, the season of preparation for the festival of Easter.

  • Red is used during Holy Week to mark the final days of Lent in which we meditate on Christ's passion and death, and for commemorations of saints who were martyred for their faith.

  • Orange/Red, the color of fire and energy is used for Pentecost, celebrating the giving of the Holy Spirit, ordinations and other festivals of the church.

Worship Leader Vestments

Garb worn by worship leaders are stylized adaptations of ancient Roman street clothing that have been preserved in the usage of the church because they late became identified with worship. The basic white robe, called an alb, is worn by the ministers, worship leaders and choir. The alb represents the white robes of baptism; to live our baptism is to "put on Christ" and despite our divisions and differences, we are one. In addition to the alb, priests wear a stole, similar to a Jewish prayer shawl. The stole recalls the "yoke of Christ" and signifies the priest's role to announce forgiveness and to preside at the Sacraments. The deacons wear a stole over their left shoulder and across their body to symbolize their servanthood. Over the stole, deacons wear a dalmatic which is a derivation of the Roman tunic. The presiding minister wears a chasuble (like a traveling garment or "poncho"), and sometimes a cope, which is a long cape, both garments in the color of the season.

Opening Acclamation

Adapted from the Eastern Orthodox Church, in the opening acclamation we declare God and God's kingdom as the goal of our Eucharistic journey. Alternate acclamations are provided for the Lent and Easter seasons.

Collect of the Day

The collect is written to go with both the season of the church year and the readings for the day. It summarizes, or "collects" the attributes of God as revealed in the Scripture readings for the day.

Sermon

The sermon follows the Gospel with no interruption except for silence during the returning procession so that the Gospel words have a few moments to linger. The sermon is intended to be an exposition of the Word that has just been read. This practice is inherited from the synagogue and originated at the giving of the law. It is to help us make the Word a living and transforming reality as God's covenant people.

Nicene Creed

Another silence follows the sermon before the Leader motions for the people to stand to affirm their faith. This was born of rigorous intellectual debate in the fourth century, culminating in the councils of the whole Church at Nicaea in 325 and at Constantinople in 381. Originally, the entire liturgy was viewed as our confession of faith. However, since the sixth century, the Church has recited the Nicene Creed at the Eucharist. The word 'creed' comes from the Latin credo for "I believe."

Prayer of the People

The Prayers of the People followed the readings and the sermon since the 2nd century. During the Middle Ages, the prayers were incorporated in the Eucharistic Prayer and lost. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer restores the prayers to their original position. By the end of the 4th century in the East the prayers were read by a Deacon to which the people responded "Kyrie Eleison" or "Christ have mercy." The 1979 BCP offers six forms for these prayers, but we are invited to modify them or use others so long as they contain the required categories for intercession.

Confession of Sin

This was an addition in the Reformation. For the first few centuries Christians acknowledged their sinfulness by giving thanks to God for redeeming them in the Eucharist. Private confession was typically required before receiving communion.

Absolution

The formal act by a bishop or priest of pronouncing God's forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. The absolution of sins reflects the ministry of reconciliation committed by Christ to the Church. Absolution may be pronounced following private confession of sins or a general confession of sin in the Holy Eucharist, the Daily Offices, the Ash Wednesday service and the Penitential Order.

The Holy Communion

Section of the Liturgy of the Eucharist that follows immediately after the Liturgy of the Word and begins with the Great Thanksgiving. This is the central act of gathered worship, the appointed means by which Christ can become present to his church.

Sursum Corda

Latin for "lift up your hearts" and the name of the versicle and response before the preface in the eucharistic prayer.

Versicle and Response

Pattern of verbal interaction between the officiant and congregation. For example, the celebrant's proclamation "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" is a versicle, and the congregation's reply "Therefore let us keep the feast" is the response. 

Sanctus

Latin for 'holy,' sanctus is a hymn of praise of God's holiness that was originally used as part of Jewish morning worship and from there entered the Christian liturgy in the fourth century. Based on Isaiah 6:3, it is said or sung in the eucharistic prayer at the end of the preface.

Words of Institution

These are Jesus' last words from the Last Supper found in Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. They have been included in Eucharistic Prayers since the end of the 4th Century.

Epiclesis

This is an invocation calling down the Holy Spirit upon the people and the gifts of the eucharist. Formally it designates the moment in the Great Thanksgiving when the celebrant sanctifies the bread and wine to fill the hearts of the people who receive them.

The Lord's Prayer

Used in eucharistic worship since the late 4th Century, this prayer comes at a significant moment, immediately after the great "Amen" at the end of the Great Thanksgiving, where it serves as the people's preparation for communion.

Dismissal

The very last act of the liturgy. The prayer book does not authorize even a hymn to be sung after the dismissal so that nothing detracts from its meaning which is to send the people out in peace to love and serve God.