What happens in church?

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The Offertory at Christ ChurchThe church’s main service is the Eucharist, which is also called the Mass, Holy Communion and the Lord’s Supper.  At this act of worship Christians share bread and wine, as Jesus commanded on the night before his death:

‘For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.’  1 Corinthians 11.23-26

The word Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving’.  In this act of worship we give thanks to God for his great love towards us; a love that was made visible in the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ.  Sometimes this service is called Holy Communion, to remind us that, through the bread and wine we share, we are joined with Christians of all places and all time, and with Christ himself, whose body and blood we receive.  It also known as the Mass, a word which comes from the Latin ‘to be sent out’.  So we are reminded that, renewed and strengthened by Christ’s body and blood, we are sent out to proclaim his good news to the world.

The Eucharist has four main sections:

The Gathering

The priest and other ministers enter the church during the first hymn, and we gather in the Lord’s name.  We confess our sins, and praise God for his glory.  The Gathering is concluded with the Collect, a special prayer for the day.

The Liturgy of the Word

We hear readings from the Old Testament and New Testament, and then the Gospel is proclaimed.  We reflect on the Word of God in the Sermon, affirm our faith in the Creed, and offer up the particular intentions of the community in the Intercessions.

The Liturgy of the Sacrament

We express our unity in the sharing of the Peace.  Then bread and wine are brought to the altar.  During the Eucharistic Prayer, the climax of the service, we give thanks over the bread and wine and recall Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.  We pray the Lord’s Prayer, and share Holy Communion.

The Dismissal

We conclude with a blessing, and are sent out in the peace of Christ.

Receiving Communion

St Mary’s and Christ Church are part of the Church of England (Anglican Communion) and all baptised Christians who are communicant members of their own church are welcome to receive the Sacrament.  If you are not baptised, or do not usually receive Communion in your own church, you are welcome to come forward to receive a blessing.  Please bring the service book with you and bow your head as an indication to the priest.

After the Service

Please do join us for refreshments at the back of church after the service.  If you are visiting, or are new to this church, please introduce yourself to one of the clergy or welcome team.