The climax of the Eucharistic liturgy is when we come to the altar and receive the bread and wine which represents the Body and Blood of Christ. Most visitors who are not Episcopalians wonder whether it is permitted to join us at the altar for this sacrament. The answer is simple: All baptized Christians are welcome to come to the altar and receive the body and blood of Christ at communion. It is not required that you be an Episcopalian, or that you be a member of St. Mary's.
To receive communion, come forward with the people at the words, “The gifts of God for the people of God” and kneel or stand at the sanctuary step. Hold out your hands with the palms upward, right on top of left. When the priest places the bread on your palm, hold it with reverence until the wine is presented to you. Then you may dip the bread into the chalice and consume the bread and wine together. Some members might also choose to consume the bread and wine separately by drinking directly from the chalice.
It is not necessary to receive wine at communion, if it would not be appropriate. Whether your LDS, a recovering alcoholic, or abstain from alcohol for some other reason, we understand that people have many reasons for not consuming wine and other alcohols. Some of our members who do not wish to receive wine fold their arms across their chest after receiving the bread. Seeing this, the chalice bearer will simply hold the cup before them, where they may look upon it with reverence.
If you have not yet been baptized, or if you are uncertain about receiving the bread and wine, you are welcome to come to the altar anyway for a simple blessing. To signify to the priest that you do not wish to receive communion, fold your arms across your chest in an X. This is a universal signal understood in all Episcopal churches. The priest will lay his or her hand on your head gently, and quietly ask God to bless you.
The Holy Eucharist is also known as "Mass," "Holy Communion," "The Lord's Supper," or "The Divine Liturgy." As mentioned above, the basic pattern of the Eucharistic liturgy goes back to the earliest years of the Christian Church. What we do at this time, therefore, ties us together with all those who have come before us.
The drama of the Eucharist has always been the central event in historic Christian worship, and the pattern for all Christian life. The Eucharist was given to us by Jesus himself, who commanded us to continue it, as Christians have ever since. This is why the Eucharist is so important and central to us, it brings unity to us in our corporate worship.
Generally, the service follows a similar structure week to week, and season to season, consisting of six main parts:
The Gathering. The first part of the service begins with a hymn and the entrance of the Worship Ministers from the back of the Church. The Priest then welcomes the congregation with a Trinitarian-based greeting or seasonal acclamation (Ex. "Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy spirit. And Blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen"). This is followed by singing one of the Hymn's of Praise found in the Hymnal 1982. In Lent, this is replaced with the Penitential Order, which offers the congregation, as a whole, an opportunity for a confession.
Proclaiming and Hearing the Word. Following the Gathering, The Priest prays the daily collect, and invites the congregation to be seated for the readings. Usually, four readings are read from the bible, one each from the Old Testament, The Psalms, The Epistles, and The Gospels. The Psalm is generally recited in call and response format with the congregation and acolyte taking turns reading parts of the Psalter. After the Epistle is read, the Priest stands in the Congregation and reads a lesson from the Gospel. The Priest usually delivers a short sermon based on the Readings of the Day.The Nicene Creed is then recited by the entire congregation.
The Prayers of the People. Following the recitation of the Nicene Creed a member of the congregation leads the congregation in prayer. At the close of the prayers, the people kneel and together as a community confess their sins using a prayer of general confession.
The Peace. Following the confession, The people stand and greet one another and exchange signs of God's peace in the name of the Lord. This moment functions as a bridge between the prayers, lessons, sermon and creeds to the communion part of the Eucharist.
The Celebration of the Eucharist. The sacramental bread and wine are brought up, along with other gifts (such as money and/or food for a food bank, etc.), and an offertory prayer is recited. Following this, a Eucharistic Prayer (called "The Great Thanksgiving") is offered. The Lord's Prayer precedes the breaking of the bread, and the distribution of the bread and wine.
The Dismissal. Following the Communion, a prayer of thanksgiving is recited by the priest, a hymn is sung, and the priest dismisses the congregation.
Following the Liturgy, Members of the Congregation exit the Church and head to the Parish Hall for coffee, hot chocolate, and desserts. The First Sunday of the Month is generally a potluck, and on the third Sunday Members head over to the Utah Food & Care Coalition to volunteer in feeding the hungry.