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Worship at St. Matt's - FAQ's

What is the Episcopal Church’s main guide to worship and liturgy? 

The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the official book of worship of the Episcopal Church. The BCP provides liturgical forms, prayers, and instructions so that everyone in the Episcopal Church can share in common worship.

What are some gestures or actions you will see in the Episcopal liturgy?

  • Standing to praise God

  • Sitting to listen to God’s Word

  • Kneeling to pray for the church and the world

  • Bowing in reverence

  • Lifting hands in prayer, also called the “orans” position

  • Making the sign of cross, usually with the right thumb on the forehead or with the right hand on the forehead, chest, and shoulders

  • Genuflecting (bending the knee in reverence)

  • Giving and receiving a handshake, hug, or kiss of peace, a sign of greeting and reconciliation

  • Elevating the bread and wine during the Eucharist, offering them to God or showing them to the people

  • Extending hands in greeting (e.g., when the priest says, "The Lord be with you")

  • Laying on of hands or extending them over people as a sign of blessing and authorization at baptism, confirmation, ordination, and other sacraments

What is the chief worship service in the Episcopal Church? 

The Holy Eucharist – also known as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Mass, Divine Liturgy, and the Great Offering.


What are the liturgical seasons?

The Christian calendar divides the year into six liturgical seasons:

  1. Advent

  2. Christmas

  3. Epiphany

  4. Lent

  5. Easter

  6. Pentecost

    1. The season after the Day of Pentecost is often called “Ordinary Time,” although this term is unofficial and does not appear in the Book of Common Prayer.

Every season has a designated color, which you will see featured on the clergy's vestments and the linens on the altar during that season.

  • White signifies purity and joy and is used during Christmas and Easter, and on All Saints’ Day and other joyous occasions such as weddings. White is also used during funerals because death is viewed in relation to Christ’s resurrection.

  • Purple (and blue in Advent) signify penitence and patient waiting and are used during Advent and Lent. These colors also suggest royalty, indicating that during Advent we await the return of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

  • Red symbolizes the fire of the Holy Spirit and is used on Pentecost Sunday and for the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons. It also signifies the blood of Christ and is used in the festival of martyrs.

  • Green suggests hope and growth and is used during the weeks after Epiphany, Trinity Sunday, and Pentecost.


What is a lectionary? 

A lectionary is a table of readings from Scripture appointed to be read at public worship. Although there are several lectionaries contained in the Book of Common Prayer, the Episcopal Church now follows the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which was officially adopted at General Convention in 2006.

The Revised Common Lectionary, like the lectionaries in the Book of Common Prayer, is a three-year cycle of Sunday Eucharistic readings in which Matthew, Mark, and Luke are read in successive years with some material from John read in each year.

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