Episcopal worship engages all the senses so that we can offer God our thanks and praise with all our hearts, minds and bodies. The service is distinguished into two parts. First we hear and learn from scripture. Each Sunday we hear four readings. The first reading is from the Old Testament, which contains stories and history of our Jewish ancestors. Next we read together a Psalms, or song. The Psalms are songs and prayers that span the spectrum of human emotion. Third, we hear an Epistle or letter to the early churches. These letters give us insight not only into our early Christian forebears, but consult us on how we ought to behave toward one another as the Body of Christ. Finally, the priest reads from the Gospels, which are stories from eye witnesses who walked with Jesus and saw his work and love first hand. The priest also delivers a sermon that offers insight into these sometimes difficult to understand readings. She puts them into both historical and modern contexts in order to highlight the “truth stories” and lessons the scriptures offer to Christ-believers.
The second half of the service is all about offering the gifts of our labor and giving our thanks for all we have been given. Episcopalians are incarnational people of faith. We believe that Christ walked among us, lived with us, ate, drank, slept and felt what we feel. As such, the Eucharist, or Communion, or even still The Lord’s Supper, is celebrated every Sunday because we want to offer ourselves, our souls and bodies to God’s dream of drawing all peoples and creation to Godself. In the Eucharist we retell salvation history. That history tells the story of how God came to us through prophets and apostles to tell us how to live as God first intended. When we didn’t listen, God sent Jesus to live among us be among and teach us how to love and live together, and mostly, how to give God the thanks and appreciation for all creation. The bread that we eat and the wine that we drink becomes filled with the real presence of Christ such that it is like we are right there at that table in the upper room on Passover, eating and drinking with Jesus and listening to him talk about his coming Kingdom of Love. Eating this special food and drink in this celebratory way draws us closer to this Kingdom and makes us stronger as Christ’s body in the world today.
In addition to hearing, tasting and smelling the Kingdom of Love, we sing our hearts out and we exchange the Peace of Christ with a handshake and often a hug. Above all, worship at Holy Cross is welcoming and relaxed. We want everyone to be on the same page and so we give a lot of effort to helping newcomers to the Episcopal Church find their way through the service. We use the Book of Common Prayer, which is a prayer book written in 16th century England with the intent to unite disparate Christian believers. While we use the American Prayer Book, the notion of common prayer remains.
At your first visit, you may notice that there are quite a few little pieces to the regular Sunday service. Some of it we lovingly call Episcopal aerobics: we stand to sing, sit to listen, kneel or stand to pray. There are a lot of moving parts to the service too and a lot to look at. The purpose behind all of this is to express something. Episcopal worship allows room for our bodies to say what our hearts are feeling, yet our minds are not able to express. There is silence and room to just be in God’s loving presence and in the loving company of others. Such symbol and ritual is built for the simplicity of prayer.
Holy Cross History
Holy Cross is a mission church planted in 2000, and our church building was constructed on Cason Lane in 2004. In 2008, after the then priest left with all but seven of the congregation to form a church outside the Episcopal Church, USA, the remnant of Holy Cross created a new mission statement, and indeed, set its mission trajectory on a course that “welcomes all who seek grace and peace in conversation and communion with Jesus Christ.”
Today, Holy Cross is a place of warm welcome to all God’s beloved people—all of them—so that we may encounter God, share in the mysteries of Christ’s presence and go into the world to do God’s healing work, empowered by the Holy Spirit.