It can be challenging to enter a community where people use words like “Eucharist” or “Narthex” without telling you what they mean. Here are some of our less familiar words. (Thanks to All Saints' Episcopal Church in San Diego.)
Eucharist: Also called communion or the Lord’s Supper in other Christian traditions, this is the act of the church gathering together to share in the blessed bread and wine which is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The would Eucharist means thanksgiving in Greek and comes from Jesus example at the last supper of taking the bread and wine and giving thanks for them. Eucharist is one of the two great sacraments to which Christ calls all believers; the other being baptism. Eucharist is celebrated at All Saints each Sunday at both the 8:00am and 10:00am services. We believe that it is Christ who invites us to share in his body and blood, and that all are welcome at Christ’s table.
Rite I, Rite II, Enriching Our Worship(EOW): This is Episcopal short hand for describing three different versions of the words use in the church service.
One of the great steps forward that happened with the founding to our denomination was the switch from Latin to the language of the people – English. The first English Book of Common Prayer was written in 1549 by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, a poet, theologian, and church reformer. Rite I refers to a service with traditional language that is very much like what Archbishop Cranmer wrote. At All Saints, we use this traditional Language only on special occasions.
Rite II is a modern version of the ancient prayers of the Christian church. It eschews archaic words like “thou” and “vouchsafe” for language that is once again the language of the people now in the 21st century while preserving the beauty and poetry of the service. At All Saints we use Rite II for both services.
Enriching Our Worship (EOW) is a supplement to the words and prayers of Rite II that seek to provide a more diverse perspective on the ways we speak of God. At All Saints we mix appropriate prayers form EOW from time to time through the year.
Book of Common Prayer
In the Episcopal Church, worship is the central focus of our community. The Book of Common Prayer (often abbreviated as BCP or shortened to prayer book) forms the core of our worship. The first Book of Common Prayer was written in 1549. There have been occasional updates through the centuries. The current incarnation is the 1979 version. The prayer book is based in Holy Scripture. It contains prayers for different times and seasons, two different rites for the celebration of Holy Eucharist, a Psalter, services for occasions such as Baptism, Marriage, Healing and Funerals. An on-line version can be found here.
The scripture readings for most services are determined by a schedule called a Lectionary. The readings at Sunday service are from the Revised Common Lectionary which is used by the Episcopal Church as well as many Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and many other christian denominations. The Sunday lectionary provides a reading each week from the Old Testament, Psalms, the Epistles (letters that are part of the New Testament) and one of the four Gospels. The readings follow a three year cycle with each year focusing on one of the synoptic Gospels. Reading from the Gospel of John are interspersed throughout all three years of the lectionary. To find the reading for a coming Sunday, visit the Lectionary Page.
From a Greek word meaning “work of the people,” we use this word to describe the form and style of our worship. As a liturgical church, we follow a similar pattern each time we come together for worship. This pattern and the elements that accompany it are called the liturgy.
Prayers of the People
A regular part of every Sunday worship service where we pray for the need of the church, our neighbors and the world.
Vestry or Bishop's Committee
Vestry: 1) A small room where the vestments are kept and the clergy prepare for the service. 2) The elected lay leaders of an Episcopal Church (equivalent to Board of Directors). It is so named because in many parishes this group would hold its meetings in the vestry.