Liturgical Notes

The center of our life of prayer

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

At the center of the Church is the Lord’s Table – the Altar – where we gather all of our prayers and the longings of our hearts in the central act of our worship, our Holy Eucharist. (more…)

Why do we face the Gospel book?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The gospel is a Greek word meaning “good news” and that is the title given to the first four books of the New Testament–Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the biographies of the life of Jesus. These are traditionally considered the most important books for Christians in the Bible, hence they are arranged first in the New Testament. (more…)

What is the “Bible”?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The English word “Bible” is based on the Latin biblia and the Greek biblios. The word means “books” for that is what the Bible is – a collection of books, an encyclopedia of stories, laws, biographies, histories, prophetic visions and even novels and satires. (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…)

The sermon in context

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

The sermon is one of the building blocks of the liturgy, and is meant to be heard in the context of the entire liturgy – the prayers, biblical lessons, music, and the Eucharistic prayer. The sermon does not stand alone as a separate speech. (more…)

The “Star Trek” Prayer

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

You hopefully will notice that for the next few weeks we will be using Eucharistic Prayer C from the Book of Common Prayer. It is perhaps the most unusual of the Eucharistic prayers in our tradition, with a strong emphasis on creation. It is especially suitable during the summer when we spend more time outdoors. (more…)

Daily Devotions

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

There is much more in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer than we use on a typical Sunday. In fact, there is a section in the prayer book that is designed specially for use at home by individuals or families. (more…)

What’s in the word liturgy?

The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge

We sometimes refer to our Sunday worship as “The Liturgy.” The word liturgy has ancient and surprising origins. In its original context, liturgy came from a compound word in Greek for people (laos) and work (ergon), according to scholars Louis Weil and Charles Price in their landmark book, Liturgy for Living. (more…)

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…)