10.00am Worship at St Mary's
All Age Worship takes place on the first Sunday of the month - this is a friendly, relaxed and informal service. There is no Sunday School or crèche during All Age Worship as the children are often involved; however, the Tower Room and the quiet, carpeted, play area are available for use if required.
For more information about Sunday School and crèche please click here.
Parish Communion takes place on the other Sundays of the month; as a brief description this includes: singing, choir involvement, intercessions or prayers and communion or blessing - please see below for a guide to this service. The third Sunday of the month also includes our music group.
If you are interested in joining the choir or the music group please speak to our volunteer Organists and Choir Masters: Michael Reynolds Keith Galpin or David Ripley.
Worship is one of the most natural of human instincts, for when we worship we are endeavouring to communicate with what is divine. We offer ourselves and our concerns to God and dare to believe that we shall receive from God in return. This pattern of offering and transformation, of giving and receiving, lies at the heart of the Communion service.
After the chance for personal preparation, the service itself begins with a hymn and a greeting (usually ‘The Lord be with you'). We stay standing and say together the Collect for Purity – a prayer asking God to cleanse us and prepare us for worship.
As a further part of the preparation for worship and following an appropriate invitation, we confess our sins and receive God's forgiveness. This is then followed by the Gloria (Glory to God in the highest . . . ) which is sung as we explicitly give thanks and praise to God. During Advent and Lent, the note of triumph is replaced by one of greater reflection and penitence and so the Kyrie (Lord have mercy) is sung instead.
This part of the service, the Gathering, is then brought to a conclusion when the Priest says the Collect, on behalf of the congregation. The Collect is a special prayer that collects our thoughts and prayers appropriate for the day. There is a specific Collect for each Sunday of the year.
The Liturgy of the Word
Having gathered together as the people of God, we are now in a position to hear his word for us. The word liturgy originally derives from the Greek for ‘work of the people' - it is something in which we all take part.
We sit for the first of two readings – from either the Old Testament or a New Testament Epistle (letters sent to the early church, mostly by St Paul).
We then stand for the second hymn, during which there is a procession that brings the large book from which the Gospel is read into the body of the church. This Gospel Procession symbolises the bringing of God's word to his people. (The four gospels are four different books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that tell us what Jesus did and taught.) Because the Gospel is the most important of the readings we stay standing for it.
The Gospel is followed by the sermon, which may well elaborate on the readings. A period of silence is kept and then, because we have heard the word of God in the readings and have listened to some teaching or thoughts about it, we are in a position to confirm our faith by saying together the Creed (We believe in God . . ). This is a summary of our beliefs that bring us together in worship. Christians have been joining together and declaring their common faith by saying this Creed since the earliest days of the church.
Next we kneel or sit for the prayers, which are also called intercessions. They are called this because we are praying on behalf of others– interceding for them. This is the time we bring before God the needs of his world and the community in which we live, as well as our own concerns.
The Liturgy of the Sacrament
We are now at a point in the service when we can claim to be at peace with God and with each other. The declaration of The Peace and exchanging it with others gives practical and visible expression to this truth.
During the hymn that follows, the gifts of bread and wine as well as the collection of money are brought to the altar. A sentence or prayer may then be said over them.
The Eucharistic Prayer that follows is a memorial of all God's mighty acts and recalls every aspect of our faith: creation, incarnation (God becoming human in the person of Jesus), crucifixion, resurrection, ascension (40 days after Easter when Jesus took his home in heaven) and the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.
There are a number of different Eucharistic Prayers and although they do cover substantially the same ground, a different feel can be discerned with each one.
The Prayer always includes the songs of praise, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy Lord) and the Benedictus (Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord). The Eucharistic Prayer is a re-living or memorial of the Last Supper – when Jesus took bread and broke it and told us to do the same in remembrance of him. The middle part of the Eucharistic prayer therefore always contains what are called the ‘words of institution', what Jesus said and told us to do. This is the most important or solemn part of the prayer.
Through the prayer in its entirety, the gifts of bread and wine are ‘consecrated' or made holy, they become for us ‘the bread of life' and our ‘spiritual drink'. To symbolise this, at the end of the prayer, the priest raises the bread and wine and lifts them ‘towards God'.
We say together the Lord's Prayer, in which we are united to each other and to our Father in heaven, and then, following the breaking of the Bread, we are invited to ‘draw near with faith' and receive communion. Our shared response to this is that we declare our unworthiness to receive communion except through God's gracious mercy.
The distribution of communion now follows and provides a period of time in the service for yourself – both to talk to God and to listen to him. If you do not wish to receive Holy Communion you are still invited to come to the altar rail to receive a blessing (just bow your head if you do not wish to receive). Many people value the opportunity to do this. After communion a prayer of thanksgiving is said and a hymn is sung.
The Priest brings the service to an end by giving God's blessing to the congregation, who are sent into the world to serve God as God wants us to do. The pattern of the service - Offering, Transformation and Mission – is complete.