It has been said if you want to know what Episcopalians believe watch how they pray. Worship is central in the life of Good Shepherd. While it takes place in many shapes and sizes, the worship life of the parish is at the core of our identity.
Our liturgies center around the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Eucharist is our principal act of worship. On Sunday mornings the Holy Eucharist: Rite One is celebrated at 8 am, while the Holy Eucharist: Rite Two is celebrated at 10:00 am.
Worshipers here seek to be emotionally supportive, intellectually challenging and spiritually enriching. Our intent is to encourage one another in the faith and communicate clearly that God is love. We believe that the grace of God creates, sustains and redeems the world. Discovering, celebrating and sharing the love of God is what we believe we are sent forth to do. In this sense worship is very much connected with our daily lives.
Books We Use
We use several books in our liturgy. Page numbers are listed in the bulletin, and hymn numbers are listed as well and posted on the hymn boards at the front and sides of the sanctuary. Each of the books can be found in the pew rack. We hope everyone will follow along and participate fully on Sundays as we worship together.
BCP: The Book of Common Prayer -- The smaller, red book, with a cross on the front.
Hymnal: The 1982 Hymnal -- The dark blue book. Music that is listed in the bulletin with a capital S in front of the number indicates that this is "service music," or musical settings to parts of the Eucharist. The words may be found right in the prayer book (BCP), or you may find the entire musical setting in the front section of the Hymnal. Regular hymns are arranged by topic or season and are found in the Hymnal after the service music.
WLP: Wonder, Love, and Praise -- The green, soft cover hymnal. This is a supplement to our Hymnal. Hymns from WLP are listed here in the bulletin, and on the hymn boards with a green block in front of the number. Because this is a supplemental hymnal, any hymn number higher than 720 is from Wonder, Love, and Praise.
LEVAS: LiftEvery Voiceand Sing II--The red, black, and green, hard cover hymnal. This hymnal contains hymns from the African-American tradition, as well as a number of other beloved hymns that were not included in the Hymnal. LEVAS hymns are listed in the bulletin and indicated on the hymn boards with a red block in front of the hymn number.
The sacraments, outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, reveal God’s love for us. Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist are central in Episcopal life and worship. Other sacramental rites which evolved in the church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction (anointing of the sick). They reveal the loving presence of God in the world. Along with the belief that God was incarnate in Jesus Christ, they offer an understanding that God is intimately involved with all creation.
Baptism is the sacrament by which one is initiated into the Christian faith. The sacrament thus has the effect of receiving the individual into the household of God, allowing them to receive the grace of the other sacraments. The matter consists of the water and chrism, and the form are the words of baptism (the Trinitarian formula). The intention of baptism is threefold: a renunciation of sin and of all that which is opposed to the will of God (articulated by vows); a statement of belief in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (articulated by the recitation of the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed); and a commitment to follow Christ as Lord and Saviour (again, signified by vows). The effect of baptism is the reception of the Holy Spirit.
The Eucharist (Holy Communion, Mass, or the Lord’s Supper), is the means by which Christ becomes present to the Christian community gathered in his name. It is the central act of gathered worship, renewing the Body of Christ as the Church through the reception of the Body of Christ as the Blessed Sacrament, his spiritual body and blood. The matter consists of bread and wine, and the form is the Eucharistic Prayer. In this sacrament, Christ is both encountered and incorporated. As such, the Eucharistic action looks backward as a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice, forward as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and to the present as an Incarnation of Christ in the lives of the community and of individual believers.
Confession and Absolution is the sacrament by which one is restored to God when one’s relationship with God has been broken by sin. The form is the words of absolution, which may be accompanied by the sign of the cross. Confession and absolution is normally done corporately (the congregation invited to confess their sins, a moment of silent prayer while the congregation does so, a spoken general confession, and the words of absolution). Individuals, however, can and do also participate in aural confession, privately meeting with a priest to confess his or her sins, during which time the priest can provide both counseling, urge reconciliation with parties that have been sinned against, and suggest certain spiritual disciplines (penance). Unlike the Roman Catholic tradition, Anglican clergy do not typically require acts of penance as a precondition to receiving absolution; rather, such acts are intended to be healing and preventative. The priest is bound by the seal of confession. This binds the priest to never speak of what he or she has heard in the confessional to anyone.
Confirmation is derived from the Latin word confirmare – to strengthen. In this sense, confirmation involves the reaffirmation of faith through the strengthening and renewal of one’s baptismal vows accomplished through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop. Traditionally, baptism and confirmation were a unified rite, with the bishop performing both activities. With the proliferation of the faith in Europe during the early Middle Ages, the rite became separated. In recent centuries, it has been seen as an opportunity for those baptised as infants to make an adult profession of faith, and to affirm the vows made on their behalf. Until very recently, it was also a precondition to participation in the Eucharist throughout the Communion. Several provinces now view baptism as sufficient for accessing the grace of all the sacraments, since it is the means of initiation into the faith. Many baptised as adults still participate in confirmation as a way of completing the ancient rite of initiation, or because they have been received into the Communion from other denominations.
Holy Matrimony is the blessing of a union between two adults acknowledging the presence and grace of God in the life of the couple. The form is manifested as the vows (contrary to popular belief, the blessing and exchanging of rings is customary, and not necessary for the rite of matrimony to be valid). In marriage, the couple seeks God’s blessing, and through the mediation of the priest, the prayer is answered. Although the couple is thus generally regarded as the ministers of the sacrament through their voluntary exchange of vows, the sacrament must be celebrated under the presidency of a priest, who witnesses and mediates the prayers. Matrimony was the last sacrament added, having arisen as a result of civil necessity in the Middle Ages in order to regularize intimate relationships and legitimize children.
Ordination, or Holy Orders, is the setting aside of individuals to specific ministries in the Church, namely that of deacon, priest, and bishop. The matter and form are the laying on of hands by a bishop and prayers. Originally, there were two orders: deacons and bishops; however, the expansion of the Church following its legitimization by Constantine the Great led to the development of the presbyterate. In this sense, priests are essentially delegates of the bishop to minister to congregations in which the bishop cannot be physically present. Deacons have always had the role of being “the church in the world,” administering to the pastoral needs of the community and assisting the priest in worship (usually by proclaiming the Gospel and “setting the table” of the altar). The bishop is the chief pastor of a diocese, and consecration as an archbishop does not involve transition into a new order, but rather signifies the taking on of additional episcopal responsibilities as a metropolitan or primate.
Anointing of the Sick is an act of healing through prayer and sacrament, conveyed on both the sick and the dying, where it is classically called Extreme Unction. The matter consists of laying on of hands and/or anointing with oil; while the form consists of prayers. In this sacrament, the priest acts as a mediator of Christ’s grace, and will frequently administer the consecrated bread (and sometimes wine) as a part of the sacramental action.
References Anglican Church of Canada, Book of Common Prayer. Toronto, 1962. Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, 2nd ed. London, 1945. Arthur Michael Ramsey, The Gospel and the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. London, 1956. Ian Stuchbery, This is Our Faith: A Guide to Life and Belief for Anglicans. Toronto, 1990. Stephen Sykes and John Booty (eds.), The Study of Anglicanism. London, 1988.
Church of the good Shepherd
95 Woburn Street, Reading, MA 01867 Phone: 781-944-1572 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office Hours: by Appointment Only