What to Expect at Redeemer: Our Anglican Style of Worship

If you weren’t raised in a liturgical tradition, your first visit to an Anglican service can be confusing. Why do we stand? Why do we kneel? What are all these signs we’re making with our hands? Why are people wearing robes? Here are answers to basic questions about the mechanics of our worship tradition.

How long is a typical service?

Our service lasts about 1.5 hours. It begins at 10am and is followed by a hospitality hour in our Greenhouse at 11:30am. We also have a service in Swahili and Kinyarwandan that begins at 3pm.

How do people dress at Church of the Redeemer?

People come to Redeemer in a wide array of attire. You will see people in anything from jeans and flip-flops to suits and dresses.

What does it mean to be an Anglican Church?

As an Anglican Church, we are connected to the Anglican Communion worldwide, the third largest Christian communion in the world with 85 million members worldwide in 165 countries.

Why are people crossing themselves?  

Anglicans make “the Sign of the Cross” from time to time during the service. This is an ancient Christian gesture in which one touches the forehead, heart, left shoulder and right shoulder. When we explain the gesture to children, we tell them that we’re asking God to be “in our heads” when we touch foreheads, “in our hearts” when we touch our hearts, and “in all of me” when we touch our shoulders. Paul writes, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1st Corinthians 1:18). The Sign of the Cross is a reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and of the power God demonstrated in Jesus’ sacrifice.

Why are pastors wearing robes?

The liturgical vestments worn by priests and deacons have evolved since the earliest days of the Church. Even though priests of the Old Testament wore vestments in their liturgical rites, the “Christian” vestments are not really adaptations of them; rather, the vestments of the Christians developed from the dress of the Graeco-Roman world.

The alb (“white”) is a white robe. Its spiritual purpose is to remind the priest of his baptism, when he was clothed in white to signify his freedom from sin, purity of new life, and Christian dignity. It also reminds the congregation of their baptism and cleansing from sin.

The stole is a long cloth that is worn around the neck like a scarf.  Deacons wear the stole over one shoulder and Priests wear the stole over both. The stole, like a towel, is a reminder that the clergy are servants of Christ and the Church.

What do the colors mean?

There are symbolic colors for each season of the church.

  • Advent: Purple (royalty, to welcome the coming King)
  • Christmas: White/Gold (holiness and majesty)
  • Epiphany: Green (renewal and promise of new life)
  • Lent: Purple (symbolizing pain and suffering)
  • Easter: White/Gold (holiness and majesty)
  • Pentecost: Green (renewal and promise of new life)
    • On Pentecost Sunday, Red is worn, symbolizing fire and the presence of God

What is the Order of Service?

  • Music: We begin our service with worship through song, and sing a variety of hymns and modern music.
  • Age-Appropriate Teaching: After the songs, we will typically invite children to attend their classes during the middle part of the service.
  • Scripture Readings: Each week we read from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospels. After each reading, the reader says “This is the Word of the Lord” and the congregation responds “Thanks be to God.” This serves as a reminder of the sacredness of Scripture.
  • Before the Gospel reading, the Bible is carried from the altar to the middle of the congregation and read by a Deacon. The Deacon will say “The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to (whichever Gospel is being read).” As he says these words, many Anglican choose to make the sign of the cross on their foreheads, on their lips, and over their hearts. This signifies that we hope God will be on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.
    • We stand for the Gospel reading, and the reader comes into the midst of the congregation as a visual reminder that Christ, the Living Word, became a man and dwelt among us.
    • The readings for Sunday services are determined by the Common Lectionary, which can be found in the back of the Book of Common Prayer Book. Over the course of three years, virtually every passage of The Holy Bible is read in Anglican worship.
  • Creed: We recite the Nicene Creed, an ancient creed of the global Church. Early Christians labored prayerfully to clearly state the faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints” and we joyfully join with them to declare what we believe.
  • Sermon: A sermon is preached by one of our pastors.
  • Prayers of the People: This is a time for us as a congregation to join together in prayer. Corporate prayer is an essential part of the worship and work of God’s people. We pray for specific needs, mindful to ask God’s powerful and merciful help for the Church, the world, and for one another. At Redeemer, we use the forms of Prayers of the People taken from the Book of Common Prayer.
  • Confession: During the Confession, we kneel to signify our sorrow for our sins and as a sign of respect before God.
  • Passing of the Peace: Having heard the Word of God proclaimed, having stated our basic beliefs, and having confessed our sins to God, we are at peace with God and each other. The Passing of the Peace takes its origin from the Kiss of Peace so often mentioned by the Apostle Paul (cf., Romans 16:16). The peace of Christ is not just a pleasant sentiment: it is a declaration of the reality that through Christ we are forgiven and peace is fully restored with God. The barriers are down and we are genuinely reconciled to God and one another.
  • Announcements: Following the passing of the peace, parents can pick up children to return to the service for communion. During this time, we also have a few announcements about events going on in the life of the church.
  • Offering: Giving is a concrete act of worship, an expression of gratitude to God for all we have been given. Furthermore, we worship God by spreading the Gospel, building up the church, and serving the needy. “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” Hebrews 13:15-16. (Guests are not expected to give.)
  • The Holy Communion: Communion is also called The Lord’s Supper or The Holy Eucharist. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek word for “giving thanks.” For Anglicans, the Holy Eucharist is a sacrament: an outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace. Along with Holy Baptism, the Holy Eucharist is one of the two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church. Anglicans acknowledge that in the Eucharist, Jesus is truly present with us in a mysterious way. The meal truly is a meal with the Lord, and it is one of our greatest privileges to be invited to eat with our Creator, Redeemer, and the Sustainer of the universe. All baptized believers are invited to take communion. If you have not been baptized, we would love for you to come forward for prayer, crossing your arms in front of your chest as a signal to the priest.
  • Dismissal: After our service, everyone is invited to the Greenhouse for a time of hospitality. This is a great way to get to know other folks in the church.