Our regular pattern of worship rotates around the cycle of the Christian year. We begin that year in December with the Season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas, which we celebrate from December 25 through January 6. Our next major season, Lent, begins on Ash Wednesday and comes to a climax during Holy Week, before the great feast of Easter, the Resurrection of our Lord. We celebrate Easter for 50 days with its festive conclusion on Pentecost, when we remember the descent of the Holy Spirit on the women and men of the first generation of Christians.
While our ususal Sunday worship involves the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we also have seasonal celebrations and services in response to communal tragedy.
The Holy Eucharist
Our main Sunday service is call the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper or the Mass. The word “Eucharist” comes from a Greek word meaning Thanksgiving. The longest prayer is our Great Thanksgiving to God for all God has done for us. The Sunday celebration of the Holy Eucharist is a service in two parts. The Service of the Word of God begins with prayers and readings from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, a sermon and a communal confession and absolution of sin by the priest. The second part of the service involves the presentation of our gifts, the prayer of thanksgiving and consecration when we believe that Christ becomes present in the Bread and Wine which we recieve in Holy Communion.
Ashes to Go
On Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, we usually celebrate the Holy Eucharist and distribute ashes during that service. For those Christians whose work commitments prevent them from attending a church celebration, we go to the Linden Train Station during the morning rush hour and stand outside the church during the afternoon dismissal of children from McManus Middle School and distribute ashes and prayer cards to all who desire them.
Services in response to disasters
To provide an occasion for public lament, we offer services in response to disasters. We conducted a candle light vigil in response to the murders at Parkland High School and joined the Jewish Community in prayer after the murders at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the racially motivated murders in Jacksontown.
The celebration of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection are the most important celebrations of the Christian year. We begin Holy Week on Palm Sunday when we remember our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday, we recall Jesus’ last supper with a Holy Eucharist which includes a ritual washing of feet and concludes with a shared meal. On Good Friday we honor our Lord’s passion and death. On Saturday, we hold a vigil for our Lord’s Resurrection with extensive bible readings, the lighting of a new fire, and the first Holy Eucharist of Easter. We gather on Easter Morning for the Holy Eucharist.