In our substance, Christ the King is an Anglican church following ancient tradition. In our style, we’re a modern church, helping everyone participate in worship. We follow the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, but project the text of our liturgy and the lyrics of our worship songs on an overhead screen.
Why do we worship with Liturgy?
Our liturgy has two parts: the ‘Liturgy of the Word’ and the ‘Liturgy of the Eucharist.’ Liturgy simply means ‘the work of the people.’ We worship with liturgy because worship is active and participatory rather than passive. We use slides on the screen to help anyone easily participate. The first part includes songs, prayers, Bible readings (Lessons) of the day, and the sermon. It ends with ‘the Passing of The Peace.’ The second part begins with the Offertory and leads directly to Holy Communion. “Eucharist” means “to give thanks.” We worship first with our minds and hearts, through hearing and responding to God’s Word; then, through our bodies and souls, we celebrate and receive Holy Communion with deep thanks for God’s love, grace, and presence with us.
Before we Worship
When we enter the sanctuary for worship, we know we are coming into God’s presence. A prayer from the Book of Common Prayer or a psalm from the Bible displayed on the overhead projector helps us remember whose house we’re in, while quiet music helps pull our minds away from the distractions of the world and focus on the spiritual.
As the worship team leads us in praises to God, the clergy and all who serve at the altar process in, carrying candles and the book of the Gospels. We are standing, singing joyfully to the Lord. The robes and vestments that the priest, deacon, and acolytes wear remind us that we are following a form of worship centuries old. The upbeat, contemporary music we make with electric keyboard, drums, guitar and bass remind us that God is always making us new.
The Reading of the Word
Our children are dismissed to go to Sunday school, which happens in another room during this part of our service. Our readers come forward and read to the chosen scriptures from the lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer. First we listen to the the Old Testament lesson. Then, we all join in on the Psalm, our voices in chorus, often listening then responding in unison to the reader. Next we hear a New Testament reading, chosen from one of the letters of the apostles. The climax of this time is when our worship team leads us in a reverent song, and the Deacon reads Jesus’ own words from one of the Gospel books. We respond in unison: “Praise to You, Lord Christ!”
The sermon is a teaching time, a time for the priest or deacon to share what God has placed in his or her heart. We always pray for the speaker beforehand that the message we hear is the message God has for us. The speaker usually chooses to interpret one of our scripture readings for the day. We follow this lesson by reciting in unison the Nicene Creed, the statement of faith made by the church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
The deacon or subdeacon leads us in Prayers of the People from the prayer book. After the liturgy, we are free to speak aloud any prayers of our hearts so that others may pray with us.
As the worship team offers their musical talents to God, we gratefully offer Him a portion of the resources with which He has blessed us. At this time we also bring up the elements of Holy Communion, the bread and the wine, to offer up to God. The children come back from Sunday School and rejoin their families. Those who are acolytes take their places at the altar. Some of the children come up to sing or play with the worship team.
Now we enter into the holiest, most reverent part of our worship service. As the priest consecrates the bread and the wine, we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.” We open ourselves up to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We are invited to share anything the Lord has put on our hearts to benefit the congregation – a scripture, a word of prophecy, a message in tongues with the interpretation. Then we listen as the priest repeats Jesus’ words at the last supper, how He said to do this in remembrance of Him. Finally we are invited to come and receive Jesus, in the breaking of the bread. We come forward to the altar step. Every baptized Christian is welcome. Some stand and receive the wafer, dipped in wine, directly on their tongues. Others kneel at the altar and take the wafer, then drink the wine from the cup. Little children, too young to understand what the Lord’s supper is all about, cross their arms over their chests and receive a blessing. The worship team plays reverent music and the congregation joins in worship. After all have received communion, we say a prayer in unison, thanking God for His sustenance and mercy.
The worship team leads us in an up-tempo closing song of praise. Sometimes it gets us clapping, joyfully. As we recess out of the sanctuary, we are really processing into the world. The deacon dismisses us with the benediction: “Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.” “Thanks be to God,” we say. “Alleluia!”