1. Outline the Service
Bourne Abbey Congregation. Before the Service, the Vicar always does the announcements, which often include Banns of Marriage for those looking forward to their wedding. We start the Service with a hymn – one of four: Introit, Gradual hymn preparing us to hear the Gospel, Offertory hymn whilst the bread, wine, and money is being offered; and post-Communion hymn, which is self-explanatory.
Every part of the Service has a function and a place. The readings proclaim God’s word. The Sermon (hopefully) explains it. The intercessions offer prayer focused by the Word of God and the teaching of it. The prayers of penitence are a response to the Word of God that reflects our recognition of what we have done wrong and our desire for forgiveness. The Peace reminds us that before we approach the altar to receive Jesus in the bread and wine, we must first seek to put right with our neighbour anything that separates us. The long prayer by which the bread and wine is consecrated is a dialogue between ourselves and God, and the Communion is where we receive Christ’s offering of himself as a pledge of his grace and love to us and for us. And the prayer after Communion re-focuses us on what we have heard, said, and done so that we may apply that focus in our lives as we go out into the world at the end of the Service.
2. ‘What’ we do and ‘why’
Eucharist. With your Service Sheet and hymn book in hand, you’ve got all you need to know what is going to happen and when it’s going to happen: what you say and when to say it. The idea is that participation in worship works best if you don’t feel self-conscious or feel like you’re on the outside looking in.
The question ‘why’ we do what we do is probably best answered by a saying that if worship is at its most simple level a response to the love of God, then we must try to ensure that the worship that we offer to God is the very best we can do. At the Abbey, we understand that worship is ‘incarnational,’ which is to say that God uses matter and spirit – otherwise how are to understand why he took human form to bring about our salvation? So if He engaged with His world in this way through his Son, Jesus, then we are free to use sight, sound, touch, and smell to respond to his love. This is why we use a rich variety of music, colour, language, bells – and even, sometimes, incense!
Here at the Abbey, we place a high emphasis upon quality of welcome that you receive. There is always someone one hand to greet you at the door. If you haven’t been to the Abbey before, the ‘greeter’ will introduce you to one of the Sidesmen or Sideswomen, who will explain the Service by showing you the Service Sheet and Hymn book. If you ask where to sit, their job is to show you – or better still take you to a pew.