We are a people of the prayer book. Our liturgy follows the developing ACNA Texts for Common Prayer.
What you will see
Often one of the first things people notice about Christ Church is that in the liturgy, many people have a habit of bowing. The clergy bow at the altar. Many bow at the name of Jesus. Others bow when the processional cross comes down the aisle. Still others bow in a way that is spontaneous. Why do we do this?
The most primal reason is that bowing is a posture of humility and obedience, of noting our inferiority. The Scriptures are replete with examples of bowing. Abraham bows down before the three visitors to his tent in Genesis 18. Jacob bows before Esau, as does his whole family. In Joseph’s dream, his brothers bow down to him, and later in the story, they literally do! In the Gospels, the visitors to the empty tomb bow down at the sight of the angels. Many also bow before Jesus, throwing themselves to the ground in worship. (Luke 24). Jesus, at the moment of his death, we are told “bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30)
Bowing, in the deepest sense, conveys a death to self, a death to our own self-importance, and a submission to a life of obedience and worship to God. In our egalitarian society, these gestures can seem to be out of place or arcane, but perhaps this is but one place where the Gospel speaks prophetically into our culture, breaking us of our deeply-ingrained practices in favor of godly humility.
We kneel for the confession of sins and the Eucharistic prayer. Kneeling has one essential sign: that of adoration. Men and women in the Gospels throw themselves at Jesus’ feet not only as an act of repentance, but in a full acceptance, glory and adoration of the Lord who grants us His own divine life. This is true freedom, and it is expressed in adoration.
Making the Sign of the Cross ✠
The cross has always been central to the Christian Faith as a symbol of our salvation. Paul writes to the Galatians: "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14) That image of the cross was translated in the early centuries to a bodily act of "making the sign of the cross." It is a bodily sign, made over our bodies, in blessing and consecration of our whole lives, our labors, our rest, our minds, and our physical bodies to God through the power and grace of Christ.
The sign is made with the right hand, pointing first to the forehead (the mind), then downward to the center of the chest (the heart), then to the left shoulder, and then to the right (the strength), consecrating the body to the love of God.
To many of you, this practice may be a new one and it should be said that it is compulsory for no one. But as I often say during Catechesis, you and I are not mere minds trapped in inconsequential bodies - the body truly does matter!
What you will hear
Although our music includes various styles, from hymns to contemporary songs, they are always selected for their emphasis on God, the richness of their theology, and the aesthetic of their music. Weekly selections also reflect that day's scripture readings as well as the themes and posture of the liturgical season.
Sanctus Bells are used to signal the beginning of the Sanctus, during genuflections before elevations at the consecration of the host and chalice, the actual elevation of those elements, and during the genuflections following the elevation of the elements.
Occasionally, you will hear the priest chant portions of the liturgy. This occurs on major feast days or during a particular season (e.g. Lent).
How to participate
Word and Sacrament are at the center of our lives and our witness and fuels the Christian life. The Christian life is life lived in fellowship with the Holy Trinity, mediated to us by the grace of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Fellowship with Christ, through word and sacrament, is essential to maintaining and growing a living relationship with Him.
The Celebration of the Eucharist is not a private affair, carried out by a group of like-minded people who express this like-mindedness in a common, yet exclusive action. It is instead very much like the public ministry of Jesus, calling men and women without respect to their personal attributes or characteristics, to his word and to his love.
Something deep is being exposed here: that we human beings are made not only to express deep truth with our bodies, but that we take those shared actions seriously. At Christ Church, we sing, pray, speak aloud, sit, stand, kneel, and so on. Don't feel intimidated. Join in as you can and as you feel comfortable.
When it comes time for Communion, we invite everyone to come forward. Anyone who is a Christian baptized in the Trinitarian form is welcome to receive Communion.