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OCT

18

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Our Worship

The life of our community is rooted in our worship of God. And the first thing you may notice at St. John's is how active and physical our worship is. A lot of singing, speaking, standing, sitting, sometimes kneeling, sometimes bowing -- our worship includes a lot to look at, a lot to listen to, a lot to touch with your hands and taste with your mouth. This is worship in the Anglican tradition. It involves the whole person, inward and outward. This is a part of what it means to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, as St. Paul says.

Our Sunday morning worship has a structure, and its structure is basically twofold. It begins with what is sometimes called the Liturgy of the Word, and it concludes with what is often called the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion.

The first part, the Liturgy of the Word, includes the reading and hearing of Holy Scripture, followed by a sermon on the Scriptures we just heard, followed by the saying of the Creed and the Prayers of the People. These prayers conclude with a prayer in which we confess our sinsand our confession is followed immediately by the pronouncement and the assurance of God's forgiveness. And that brings us naturally to the halfway point in our servicethe Peace, when we share the Peace of God with each other.

The second part of our service begins with our offering gifts to God, including the gifts of bread and wine, gifts of money, and gifts of food for the poor. But as we offer these things, we say that we are only giving God what has always been His, and which He has given us to enjoy. And in offering these things back to Him, we are asking Him to take them and make something more of them than we can make of them ourselves.

And that's how the second half of our service culminateswith God taking the bread and wine and making them the Sacrament of himself. Feeding us with Himself. Filling us with Himself. Giving us the grace we need to live new lives, and making more of us than we can make of ourselves.

The first part, the Liturgy of the Word, prepares us for the second part. But it's important to remember that each part is only half of the whole. Word and Sacramentin our tradition, the two go hand in hand, and they work together to bring our whole lives into conformity with the life of Jesus Christ.