Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, February 22, 2013

Praying the Holy Communion Service

  With our glorious choir at the 10:00 AM service, and the many things that take place up at the altar, it is easy to slip into “passive-parishioner” mode during the celebration of the Holy Communion.  Yet we are called to worship, not just sit and watch.  After all, liturgy is “the work of the people”, and it is how we as a body glorify God.
Just as each part of our body has different jobs, so too there are many and various “jobs” at our Divine Liturgy.  The Priest plays a sacerdotal role (priestly sacramental role) as he leads the liturgy, invoking the Lord’s presence, (especially at the altar during the Eucharistic Canon), offering our common prayers, and granting God’s absolution and blessing.  The Assisting Priests, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, and Acolytes do their part in helping to lead the liturgy, or to help others in their rolls.  The Altar Guild is active before and after with their duties, and the ushers have their assigned duties to help things go smoothly.
The Choir has an obvious roll in leading and presenting music, which is an offering of praise and prayer.  But let me remind you that everyone is expected to join in the singing of hymns and canticles!  This is one area where the whole body must join in, no matter what part of the liturgy they are fulfilling.  The Congregation should be able to drown out the Choir on most hymns – outnumbering them 8 to 1!  In addition, the hymns are great teaching tools; reading the texts through before the service is a good preparatory meditation.  Also, you should follow the text printed in the bulletin as the Choir sings the anthem and Minor Propers.
Those in the pews, in addition to hearty singing, should be following the liturgy in the Prayer Book to keep their minds alert.  We should be responding with joyous (and audible) “Amen” and “And with thy Spirit”.  We should also be, in our hearts, adding our own intentions (prayer requests) and thanksgivings during the Prayer for the Whole State of Christ’s Church and the Eucharistic Canon.  And of course, we should be actively listening during the readings and the sermon.
Although the 8:00 AM Sunday, and Weekday services are without music, parishioners still actively participate in the worship with their prayers and responses.