Liturgy means “the work of the people.” As we worship God, we are inviting God to change us. We are giving God some space in our lives to make a difference, to transform us into the persons that God always intended us to be.
The first Christians called it “the breaking of the bread” because it was as Jesus broke bread with the disciples that they recognized his presence in them. In those days, the meal was probably more like a potluck supper than a solemn ritual. As time went by, it became impractical to arrange for a full meal for all the church members every week. The sharing of bread and wine became a separate action with prayers that took a more established form. By the middle of the second century records of prayers have been found that are still familiar to us:”Lift up your hearts; We lift them to the Lord, and Lord, have mercy” to name a few.
The service clearly has two parts - the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. The first part of the service is called – the Liturgy of the Word begins with the Opening Acclamation, the Collect for Purity and a Hymn of Praise. The Opening Acclamation varies with the seasons of the church year. We are now in the season after The Epiphany and the Trinitarian acclamation is used for all seasons except Lent and Easter. The Collect for Purity is based on Psalm 51 and it “sums up” or collects the elements that make a truthful worship. It asks God to cleanse us so we can offer truthful worship. It has been around since the 1549 BCP. It frames us so God can form us through the Eucharist. We ask God to help us focus so that God can work in our lives. We use the Hymn of Praise – the Gloria, that brings us together in an act of praise.
In Episcopal churches, our posture is part of our participation. So I invite you to stand for