All churches, whether contemporary or traditional, have a normal pattern of doing the service. This structural form of facilitating worship is known as the liturgy. The Anglican liturgy uses many components to help connect us to millions of other Christians across the world and throughout time. The pattern also is deeply rooted in scripture and theologically sound, and there is deep meaning behind each and every thing we do. Learn more in our FAQ’s section.
What follows is the structure of a typical Sunday or Lord’s Day worship service at St. Michael’s. Our church follows a historical pattern of two-movement worship – Word and Communion – all the while marked by an openness to the Holy Spirit.
The First Movement - The Word of God
Welcome and Silent Prayer
As we begin, a Pastor directs our attention to our primary purpose in gathering. It is an invitation to gather our hearts toward worship.
Processional and Praise Hymns
Music expresses the depths of the faith, and the depths of our hearts, in ways that words alone cannot. Throughout the service, we lift our voices to God and to one another as we praise our incomparable God and offer ourselves to Him. Occasionally individuals lift their hands as an expression of worship to God.
As we worship God, the ministers proceed into the sanctuary, a practice which has been done since the beginning of the church. The party is led by the cross, symbolizing that we are under the cross and follow Christ into the presence of God.
Acclamation and Collect for Purity
The priest acclaims or announces and praises God’s name, the congregation joins in praise by making the sign of the cross.
We continue with a Collect (or prayer) for Purity in order to highlight the core element of true worship: our need for cleansing and the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us into the right spirit of worship.
Summary of the Law and Kyrie Eleison
We are reminded of God’s law that we would love Him with all of our heart and love our neighbors as ourselves. Upon hearing the Law we are aware of our shortcomings and join in an ancient prayer for God’s help.
Collect of the Day
The Collect of the Day “collects” our hearts and guides our minds towards a basic theme that will shape each week’s particular worship service, and coincides with the weekly scripture readings and the sermon.
The Scriptures we read are specifically chosen for the day following a three-year Scripture Plan called a lectionary. Each week includes four lessons (or readings), one each from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament, and Gospel. The readings culminate with the Gospel reading, which is read from the midst of the standing people of God. This unique posture and placement represents both Christ’s coming “among us” to reveal God, as well as the reality that Christ is present in our midst even now as we worship. We did not go to Him, but He came to us: therefore, the Gospel reading does the same.
During the Gospel reading, some may wish to make small sign of the cross with a thumb on the forehead, lips, and heart, signifying that Christ would fill our minds, be on our lips, and in our hearts.
The sermon follows the readings and is the climax of the first movement of the service. It is an essential part of the proclamation of the gospel that began in the readings. The sermon should be based in the texts, illuminating them in their biblical context and relating them to real, daily life. We trust that the Holy Spirit fills the Word of God as it is preached, convicting the hearers and drawing them to respond through prayer, confession and repentance, and receiving the gifts of God. In other words, the entire rest of the service is our response to the Word of God preached.
Nicene Creed and Prayers of the People
Our response to the Word begins by corporately re-affirming our beliefs in the form of the Nicene Creed, which we share with other Christians across time and space. This is another ancient practice that anchors God’s people in our Christian faith.
We continue our response by turning to God in prayer. We are guided in our prayers in order to keep them from becoming too narrow or self-centered. We are also reminded of the breadth of the gospel message: The salvation Christ offers us is global, and touches every corner of creation. It is also appropriate and encouraged for us to add our own petitions and thanksgivings, silently or aloud.
Confession of Sin
After praying for the hopes and concerns of the world, we confess and release our sins before we approach the Lord’s Table. We appeal to a merciful God, and through the crucifixion of Christ we are free to confess honestly and openly, knowing that forgiveness is always available. We are encouraged to kneel if able, and this posture helps remind us that as we humble ourselves before God He forgives us and lifts us up again to our feet ready to serve Him each day.
Absolution of Sins and Comfortable Words
Through His Church, Christ declares forgiveness to those who through His grace repent of their sins. The priest’s words declaring God’s forgiveness serve as a channel for the Spirit’s grace and cleansing power. Forgiveness from God then becomes the basis for the peace we receive from Him and that we share with others.
Sharing the Peace of Christ
After the absolution, we seek to follow Jesus’ command to forgive as we have been forgiven. This ancient tradition of passing the peace of Christ to one another demonstrates our intention to live in peace with all people, because we now have peace with God. It is not simply a time for greeting, but a time to intentionally bless as we have been blessed!
The Second Movement – Holy Communion
Our ultimate response to the word of God is thanksgiving, which we offer through the Eucharist. Eucharist means “Thanksgiving” in Ancient Greek, but it can also be called Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
We first present ourselves to God in worship through our gifts to Him. During this time, the bread and wine for communion go forward, demonstrating that Christ first offered Himself to us as a gift. Then, we take up a monetary offering. This isn’t just fundraising! It is worship, an offering of a tithe of our labor as a reflection that all our lives are offered to God as a living sacrifice to Him.
We present our offerings before God in humility and with a song of praise, knowing that they are meager responses to the multitude of gifts we have been given by Him.
Sursum Corda, Preface and Words of Institution
The Pastor now leads the congregation in a prayer that rehearses the story of what God has done for us, unveiling the gospel in ways appropriate to each season. The Gospel is preached in these prayers, and the “Words of Institution” are spoken. The “Words of Institution” are found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 11; speaking them in the midst of this prayer is simply a recognition that our meal is in continuity with Jesus’ command to practice the supper whenever we gather.
Prayer of Consecration
We ask for the Holy Spirit to bless and sanctify (set apart as holy) the elements of bread and wine, so that in them we might receive the body and blood of Christ. Christ has promised to meet us in this meal, and this prayer simply asks Him to be faithful to that promise. We also ask God to sanctify those who receive the bread and wine. Anglicans believe in Christ’s real presence in the bread and wine.
The Lord’s Prayer
We now join together with the church through the ages, with one another, and with all Christians around the world in the model prayer that our Savior taught us.
All baptized Christians of any age are invited to receive Communion. At St Michael’s, we often hold our hands open to receive the bread to signify the free gift of Christ, and that our faith isn’t something that we can “take.” If you are not baptized, or would rather not receive Communion, we still invite you to come forward and cross your arms over your chest, so that we can pray a blessing over you.
We close our time of Thanksgiving with a prayer that reminds us that the very life of Christ, given to us through the Holy Spirit, now flows through our veins as we enter the world. The prayer incorporates us into the mission of God, as we commit to serve Him who loved us and gave His life for us. As the service draws to a close, we ask that God now sends us in His strength and power to love and serve the world around us.
Blessing, Sending Hymn, and Recessional
During the final hymn, the ministers process out of the sanctuary, again led by the cross. This symbolizes that Christ goes before us as we are sent out into the world.
The Pastor often will make a declaration of God’s blessing to His people. This ancient and Biblical tradition is often accompanied by marking ourselves with the sign of the cross. This simply signifies the work God has done in our hearts, as well as his provision for our lives on a day to day basis, that only comes through the cross. Others will simply hold their hands open in a posture of a faith willing to humbly receive God’s blessing.
The Sending Out
In our final response, we are called to take what we have received in the service, through the Word of God and the Holy Communion, into the world. It is a joyous recognition that we have been welcomed into the presence of God, and that we are taking that presence back out into the world.
More information on many aspects of our liturgy can be found here: