Liturgy: Liturgy simply means that we think worship is not a spectator sport. It should engage our hearts, minds, and bodies. And it means we follow an orderly pattern for worship: Gathering, Word, Meal, Sending. Within this pattern, there's a lot of room for variety and creativity. We try to have worship be familiar enough to be comforting and encouraging and new enough to be challenging.
Why Worship? Because like eating your vegetables, it's good for you. OK, it's not that simple. Actually, we believe worshiping together is good for us as individuals and good for the creation. We need space in our lives, time apart from all the things that are competing for our attention. When we take special time and set it aside for God and the community God is building and sustaining, we regain focus and perspective. We think about what's really important, and we are transformed to view the world in a new way. The way love sees it. The way God sees it.
What are Sacraments? Sacraments are ritual actions in which we believe God acts in some pretty profound ways. Baptism is just plain old water and an old story of God's love and adoption. Together, they are a sign and seal that God is with us and we belong to God. Holy Communion or the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving) is just a little piece of bread, cup of wine or juice, and the words of a supper Jesus shared with his disciples a long time ago. Together, they become for us the body and blood of Jesus, his very self, taken into our very beings. Bottom line: Sacraments are an opportunity and invitation to enter into communion with the divine in a real and intentional way, to swim out into a sea of mystery and love. And to make that journey together, not just as individuals.
Can't the divine be encountered just as readily outside the church? Sure. Absolutely. God is the author of creation, and God's glory is all around. So yes, you DO encounter God in other people, in every day life, in nature, and in time spent with friends and family. But just as there are things about God to be encountered in all these ways that are distinct from a church, so too there are things about God that can only be encountered in community, in the rhythms of life together and not just individually. So, is an encounter with the divine something that happens at church or everywhere? As individuals or as a community? Our answer is a resounding YES.
Wherever God acts in a liberating way in and through human beings, there is participation in that liberating action of God, involvement, allowing one's self to be drawn into the process of liberation; there "church" appears in the full sense of the word. -- Dorothee Solle
The principle celebration of the week. This service lasts between 60 and 75 minutes. We gather, proclaim the living Word, share the Communion (community) Meal, and are sent out in service to others. Often led by pipe organ, we periodically welcome many other instruments as well. Our choir usually sings, and we use hymns and songs both anciently and recently composed.
For those who can't make it Sunday or prefer a more laid-back, simple liturgy. Lasting about 30 minutes, this service is distilled from the Sunday before, featuring an interactive Holy Communion or Evening Prayer service.
We observe many festivals and celebrations on Sundays during the course of the church's year. Below are festivals generally observed on special days and times or with a modified Sunday schedule:
Advent Evening Prayer: On Wednesday evenings for four weeks before Christmas, we contemplate and prepare for Jesus' birth with contemplative services of prayer.
Christmas: We celebrate the Birth of Jesus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning.
Ash Wednesday: Beginning the self-reflective season of Lent, Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder of our own mortality: From dust we are made and to dust we shall return.
Wednesdays in Lent: We observe Evening Prayer and reflect of the brokenness of our lives, our communities, and creation, and give that brokenness over to God.
Holy Week: The week before Easter is a time of high-drama in the life of the church, as we re-encounter Jesus' passion (his trial and death) and enter fully into the darkness of human brokenness. On Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion, we ride with Jesus into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we specially observe the last supper with the disciples and the washing of feet as a sign of humility and service. On Good Friday, we stand at the foot of the cross. At the Saturday Great Vigil of Easter, we wait outside the tomb for a sign of hope and remember God's faithfulness.
Easter: We celebrate Jesus resurrection and say: Alleluia! God is Alive! Our Lenten reflection ends with the assurance that God makes life out of death.