When you come into Emmanuel, you'll be greeted when you first enter the door and you'll receive a program. It will include readings for the day and an order of service with page numbers to reference in the Book of Common Prayer (available in all pews). Hymn numbers are posted on boards to the right and left toward the front of the church. After the service, we meet together for food and fellowship.Everyone is welcome.
Please feel free to sit anywhere! There are no assigned seats. Sunday is traditionally when when we gather for worship but we also have services on other holy days such as Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Christmas Eve. Our principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or Mass. Our worship is accompanied by organ music and the singing of hymns by the congregation.
Our worship is said to be “liturgical,” meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar. Our services involve standing, sitting, kneeling, spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.Visitors should remember that the dance differs even among life-long Episcopalians! You really can't do anything wrong. And, if you'd like some assistance during the service, just let our greeter know and we'll make sure you're seated with someone who will help.
Our services last about an hour and every Holy Eucharist has the same components. The Liturgy of the Word is the first part of the service and it's where we praise God through song and prayer, and then listen to four readings from the Bible. Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached. The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since. Next, the congregation prays together—for the Church, the world, and those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. Then, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another and the priest pronounces absolution, assuring the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins. The congregation then greets one another with a sign of “peace"...shaking hands and saying something like, "God's peace" or "The peace of the Lord".
The Liturgy of the Table makes up the second half of the service. The priest stands at the altar, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the priest tells the story of our faith and the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him. He or she blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the priest breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the “gifts of God for the People of God.”
All baptized Christians...no matter the age or denomination...may come to the altar rail to receive the bread and wine. We invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously. Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward to receive a blessing (simply kneel or stand at the railing and cross your arms over your chest). At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the world.