By Katherine Will
Director of Music and Worship
Worship in an Episcopal church is unlike most activities we encounter in our everyday life. While a participatory activity, there is a different sense of inspiration and spirituality than we might encounter at a baseball or football game. Our liturgy is designed to help us encounter God as a community and share the Good News with each other. Though at times our worship is quiet and meditative, there is also a sense of joy and wonder as we all participate in the work of liturgy together.
At times it can be difficult to balance the awe of reverence with our joy and enthusiasm. Reverence is our respect for God, but also our respect for each other. You will notice during our worship how many times Daniel bows to other worship participants or communicants as a humble sign of respect for each child of God. As the priesthood in the pews, we are also expected to show respect for each other during worship. One way to honor others around us is to allow them to worship and pray without distractions.
Here are a few suggestions to guide all of us:
- Consider arriving in your pew 5-10 minutes before the service is scheduled to start. Many people find this quiet time helpful as they prepare their minds and hearts for worship. Some use the time to pray, others to look through the bulletin, and some just use the time to clear their heads and breath. This small period of quiet allows us to leave the bustle of the morning behind and focus on the coming worship. You might explore the Book of Common Prayer (especially pages 814-835) to discover some prayers to use at this time. The organist will play some quiet music just before worship is to start, to help set the tone and focus on our upcoming time together.
- If it is unavoidable to come in late, please do so discreetly. An usher can help you find a seat and an appropriate time to enter. Please try not to disturb anyone who is doing the work of liturgy, especially the presider, lectors or musicians, because it is very distracting to walk down the center aisle or through the musicians. If you are unsure where to go or when to enter, please ask an usher.
- Everyone understands that emergencies do happen. If you need to leave and re-enter during the service, appropriate times are during hymns, passing the peace, or during the offertory. Times of prayer are especially sacred spaces: be aware so you do not disturb others during the Collect, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Prayers of the People.
“I Come With Joy to Meet My Lord.” The smiles on our faces, enthusiastic singing and resounding AMEN!s are also important parts of our work of liturgy. The news that we share is good, and as Daniel has said before “we have to party!” New comers and children learn to worship by what we model.
May we all share in the reverence and joy: God’s kingdom is at hand, and God lives among us!