The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are at the heart of our worship life as a community. Drawing upon our rich liturgical tradition, we seek to engage the mind, body and soul in celebrating what God has done for us in Christ. The morning services combine the liturgy with a mix of traditional, contemporary and folk-style music, while the evening service incorporates gospel and jazz-influenced worship.
The liturgy allows us to participate in the Divine Drama, reminding us of the ancient story of God’s redemption and helping us to experience the gospel. We remember the “once for all” work of Christ and the ongoing process of being made into his image as we participate in each part of the liturgy. The purpose of the liturgy is to express the gospel dramatically. Its goal is to move us to worship.
Holy Eucharist and Sharing a Meal
In liturgical churches, it is the altar and not the pulpit that stands at the center of our worship. This is not because the preaching of God’s word is unimportant. Rather, it is because the Eucharist (Greek for “thanksgiving”) is the focal point of our service. All that we do – the prayers, songs, Scripture readings, sermon, creed, confession – points to the central truth and reality of our faith as expressed in the Eucharist.
The Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” In the Eucharist, we celebrate the sacrifice of Christ as pictured in the Passover meal and the peace we have with God and each other as pictured through the fellowship of sharing a meal. After every 5 pm service, we continue our celebration from the Eucharist table around the dinner table and share good food and conversation. We strive to live in the truth that the “dividing walls of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) have been destroyed by Christ and he has made us one body around one table extending one invitation: to follow him.
Seasons of the Church Year and Holy Time
Calendars help us keep track of time and provide us with opportunities to remember, reflect and celebrate certain events and occasions. In the busyness of life in New York, calendars can be a source of stress. The church calendar, however, serves as the perfect foil to our overworked, overscheduled lives. The first time something is called “holy” in Scripture, it is a reference to time. “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:3). The church calendar helps us experience this holiness of time by reminding us of the story of God and his actions in human history, past, present and future. It creates space for us to respond throughout the year as a community in worship, repentance, confession and celebration.
While the Jewish practice of this holy time revolves around the Exodus from Egypt, the church calendar focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. Our year involves two major centers of holy time: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany; and Lent, Holy Week and Easter, culminating at Pentecost. The journey from Advent to Pentecost is one where we “kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, witness the resurrection”1 and experience the power of the Holy Spirit. As our congregation moves through the seasons of the church year, the “real” time of our lives intersects with this “holy” time, renewing us in Christ and moving us towards deeper conversion.
1 Dennis Bratcher, “The Seasons of the Church Year,” CRI/Voice, Institute, http://www.crivoice.org/chyear.html