How We Worship

Worship at Saint James’ is Eucharistic. Eucharist is an ancient Greek word for “thanksgiving”. We gather each week and share a meal of bread and wine in thanksgiving for Christ’s loving sacrifice of his body and blood upon the cross. Our form of worship has changed little over the centuries, and we continue this practice because Jesus invites us to share his body (bread) and blood (wine) in remembrance of him. When we gather, we prepare ourselves to receive God’s grace, we come to the table shoulder to shoulder in communion (as a community) with one another and with Christ, and are immediately sent to share that grace with the world.

Worship at Saint James’ is corporate. We worship God together. What does that mean? It means we are not passive participants in the worship of God. Of course, you could stay seated and quiet throughout our service, but you would miss out on a great opportunity to participate.  Our worship is taken directly from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) found in the rack in front of each pew.  In 1549 the first Book of Common Prayer was groundbreaking in that it was in the language of the people and encouraged people to be active participants in worship.  We unite our voices to the glory of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Worship at Saint James’ needs everyone. Why? Because everyone has a role to play! The clergy act as masters of ceremonies, or prompts, if you prefer, guiding everyone through prayers and singing. They teach, preach, and lead everyone in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which is why they are called “celebrants”. The choir supports us all as we sing together. Members of the congregation, called the laity (or laypersons or laypeople) lead readings from the Bible, and help the clergy by serving as acolytes, crucifers (cross bearers), and chalice bearers and servers in Holy Communion. At all times, worship is a corporate and cooperative experience; it is never a “one-person show.”

Worship at Saint James is sacramental. We find our identity rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, which is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the church (BCP 298). Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace (BCP 857).

Through sacraments we experience the presence and grace of God. Thus to be sacramental is to believe the grace of God is made present in the world, particularly in worship and the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. Our experience of these sacraments governs our worship and our worldview, since through them we know God is not distant but present with us in these acts and in the world.

Some Notes on our Services

First of all, you are welcome at Saint James’! Whether you have spent your entire life in an Episcopal pew or have never stepped foot in any church, you are free and encouraged to worship with us or simply to listen to our liturgy. At various times in a service, people may stand, sit or kneel – all of this has a meaning, but never feel as though you have to do anything. We are overjoyed that you chose to come join us. There is no need to do anything else except whatever makes you feel most comfortable. You are welcome, simply and purely. There are no caveats.

Prayer books and hymnals are in the pew racks. The prayer books have a black cover with a gold cross on the front. The hymnal has a red cover. In the hymnal, you will find service music towards the front of the book marked with a number preceded by an “S-.” The hymns are towards the back of the book and are marked by a number only.

Communion is not exclusive to Episcopalians.  The alter in the sanctuary is not the table of St. James’ or of the Episcopal Church – it is the Lord’s Table, and we invite all baptized Christians to receive Communion. (also called the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, and the Mass) You are welcome to stand or kneel at the rail, and you may receive the wine either by drinking from the chalice or by intinction. If you do not wish to receive communion, you are free to come to rail to receive a blessing from the priest. Simply cross your arms over your shoulders so the priest knows to bless you.

Children are especially welcome in our midst. If you have small children, we have crayons and coloring material at the table at the rear of the sanctuary which you are free to pick up before a service.

Nursery is available on Sundays for children ages four and under. You can find it at the foot of the stairway by the Parish Hall entrance.

Children’s Church is available at the Sunday 10:15am service. Ages 3 to 5th grade are invited to attend starting at 10:00am in the Activity Room under the Parish Hall. They will rejoin their families in the main worship services at the time of the Peace.

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