Liturgical Notes

Ordinary Time

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

We now enter the long church season known as “Ordinary Time,” which comes after Pentecost and ends on the First Sunday of Advent in late fall. Depending on when Pentecost falls, Ordinary Time can last roughly 35 weeks. (more…)

Why do we say the Nicene Creed?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

Following the sermon, we take a few moments of silence to let the words dwell within us. Then we recite together the Nicene Creed, which was written in the fourth century to state the Church’s Trinitarian belief in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was written as a loyalty oath for bishops, but has since evolved into a central part of our worship. (more…)

Gestures (or what am I supposed to do when?)

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

One of the running jokes in our denomination is that our worship sometimes looks like “Episcopal calisthenics.” We stand, we sit, we kneel, we cross ourselves, and we turn this way and that way. We certainly aren’t passive spectators. But it can feel confusing, especially if you are new. So how to know what to do when? (more…)

Why do we stand up to face the Gospel book?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

On most Sundays, there is a procession into the center of the congregation with a deacon or priest carrying a book with a gold cover. Inside the book are passages from the four Gospels (more on that below). The procession signifies that the Gospel is at the center of our life as a faith community, and also signifies that we are to carry the Gospel out into the community. The Gospel Procession is led by a cross. Torch bearers with candles are at the flank to light the book. (more…)

Who picks the Biblical lessons on Sunday?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The Biblical lessons we hear on Sunday come from a schedule of texts assigned for each Sunday on a three-year cycle called the Revised Common Lectionary.

Representatives of several Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, chose the lessons many years ago. The lectionary was introduced for trial use in the 1980s and adopted in 1994. (more…)

What is a Diocese?

And what is with praying for two bishops?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

You may have noticed that every week we pray for “Michael, our presiding bishop; and Barry, our diocesan bishop…” Who are they and what is the distinction?

Michael Curry is the presiding bishop of the entire Episcopal Church, which has 110 dioceses and is in 18 countries. He was elected in 2015 by the bishops of all those dioceses to serve for a nine-year term. He is responsible for overseeing the management and pastoral issues of the full church. He presides when the bishops meet as a “house.” Bishop Curry is the first African American to serve our church in this capacity in our 200-plus year history. His office is in New York. He was previously the bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. (more…)

What does “catholic” mean in the Creed?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

You have probably noticed that in the Nicene Creed we say, “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” What do we mean by catholic?

The word “catholic” does not refer just to the church based in Rome headed by the Pope. The word “catholic” has a more ancient pedigree, deriving from the Greek word katholikos that means “universal.” (more…)

Why no confession in Easter?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

During the Easter season, the Confession disappears from our liturgy. This does not mean we have nothing to confess, but it signifies that in Easter the burdens of our sins are lifted. Lent is over. The Risen Christ is among us bringing healing, wholeness and the salvation that comes from God alone. (more…)

The Paschal Candle

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

You will notice a very tall candle near the Altar, and it is adorned with a Jerusalem Cross with five nails. This candle will remain lit during all of our worship services in the Easter season, which lasts until Pentecost on June 4.

Called the Paschal Candle, it was first lit at the Great Vigil of Easter on Saturday evening April 15. The Great Vigil marked the beginning of the Easter season. (more…)

What’s in a name? “Episcopal”

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

From time to time, people ask me what the name “Episcopal” means. It is word not in common conversation with most people in our society or outside our church.

The word comes from the Greek Episkopos, which means bishop. The word suggests our organization has something to do with bishops. But why a Greek word? The origin comes straight out of the American Revolution in 1776. (more…)

Holy Week and the Easter Triduum

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The week before Easter is traditionally called “Holy Week” (Note: The week after Easter Sunday is called Easter Week, not the week before).

For centuries, Christians have gathered in Holy Week to retrace these last steps of the life of Christ on Earth. Beginning on Palm Sunday, we come together to observe the gathering darkness before the crucifixion and we conclude on Saturday night at the first proclamation of Easter. (more…)

The Great Vigil of Easter

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The Great Vigil of Easter, also called the “Paschal Vigil” or the “Divine Liturgy” is the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in during the fifty-day long celebration of the Easter season. At the Church of the Incarnation we have a traditional Vigil that will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday April 14. (more…)

The Gathering

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The first act of our worship is the gathering of the people at prayer. In fact, the word “church” means “The Gathering.” And we gather in a special way, with the leaders of prayer processing through the people of prayer to the altar. Sometimes we do this in silence (at 8 a.m.) and sometimes through music (9:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.). The procession also reminds us that the people of God, through time and history, are moving toward God’s Kingdom – following the Cross of Christ – and bringing the Light of the Gospel into the world.


Who are the Ministers of the Church?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

We sometimes use the word “minister” to mean the clergy only. But, in fact, the “minister” has a much wider meaning than just the people wearing collars, vestments and leading worship. The Book of Common Prayer (pages 855-856) gives a fuller definition of ministry and ministers. Please note that the duty of all ministers – lay and ordained – is to “represent Christ and his Church.” Also note who is listed first as a minister. Here is the definition, in Q&A format, from the prayer book: (more…)

Healing prayers

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

Among our richest Christian traditions is to pray for the sick. We do so as individuals in our private prayers, and we also pray for the sick as a community of faith every Sunday in our worship.

The stories of Jesus are replete with healings – he was probably best known in his time as a healer. Sometimes just the touch of his cloak was enough to heal someone. (more…)

Confession and the season of Lent

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

From the earliest times, Jews and Christians have practiced self-examination of how well we live together as God’s people. Lent is especially a time for introspection and honest admission of how we have fallen short, which is the definition of “sin.” (more…)

The Penitential Order

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

During the season of Lent, beginning next week, you will notice that our worship starts a little differently than the rest of the year. We begin with the Penitential Order containing the Confession. (more…)

The ashes of Ash Wednesday

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

Ash Wednesday, this year on March 1, is traditionally marked by the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of believers. Sobering words to go with the dirty ashes: “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” (more…)

Sacred Music

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

Our Christian tradition is rich with sacred music, and we are wonderfully blessed to have a strong music program here at the Church of the Incarnation. Our amazing choirs are here to lead us in singing. Please join in! (more…)