What to Expect at St. John’s
Think of this as your “Guide to Visiting St. John’s”. Most important, remember that you are welcome. We extend a cordial welcome to you to worship with us, and offer this as a brief introduction to St John’s.
The Place of Worship
As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Your eye is carried to the altar, or holy table. Our thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is.
On and near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12). Usually there are flowers to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus.
On the left side at the front of the church there is a pulpit from which the sermon is usually preached. On the right side the eagle’s wings lectern is used for reading Scriptures and for announcements.
Before and After Worship
At the Sunday services a sidesperson (usher) will greet you after you enter the building and give you a Sunday service bulletin. Sidespersons can also answer any questions about the service. Pews (seats) are not reserved; you may sit where you wish.
Some people choose to kneel at their pew for a prayer or, in some way, prepare for worship. At the end of the service some kneel for a private prayer before leaving. After the 10 am Sunday service most people remain to listen to the organ postlude. A priest greets the people as they leave.
The Act of Worship
In the pews you will find two service books:
- The Book of Common Prayer (maroon) is usually used at the 8 am Sunday and 7:30 am Wednesday Services
- The Book of Alternative Services (green) is usually used at the 10 am Sunday service.
These service books enable the congregation (those in attendance) to share fully in the service. Both books include the actual service along with directions for worship leaders and participants. The page numbers for the service are in the service bulletin.
The hymns for a service are found in the Common Praise hymn book (blue). Hymn numbers are in the service bulletin.
You may wonder when to stand, sit, or kneel.
- The general rule is to stand to sing. We stand, too, to say our affirmation of faith, the Creed, and for the reading of the Gospel in the Holy Eucharist.
- Psalms are sung or said sitting. We sit during readings from the Old Testament and New Testament Letters, the sermon, and choir anthems.
- We stand or kneel for prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as children or as an act of humility before God.
The Regular Services
The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). At 8 am on Sunday morning and at 7:30 am on Wednesday morning It is celebrated quite simply, without music When celebrated at 10 am on Sunday music and a sermon are customary.
Another service is Morning Prayer. The parallel evening service is Evening Prayer. These services, held occasionally, consist of psalms, Bible readings, and prayers; and may include a sermon. They may be with or without music.
While some parts of the services are always the same, others change. For the Holy Eucharist service, for example, two or three Bible selections are read. These change each Sunday, as do the psalms. Certain of the prayers also change. Page numbers and hymn numbers are usually announced and are given in the service leaflet. But do not be embarrassed to ask your neighbour for assistance.
You will find the services of the Anglican Church to be God-centred, beautiful in their ordered dignity, and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.
What Clergy Wear
To add to the beauty and festivity of the services, and to signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers customarily wear special garments or vestments. Choir members and servers also wear vestments.
The colour of many clergy vestments, as well as altar coverings, changes with the seasons and holy days of the church year. The most frequently used colours are white, red, violet, and green.
The Church Year
The Anglican Church observes the traditional Christian calendar. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for Christmas, begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. Christmas itself lasts twelve days, after which we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany (January 6).
Lent, the forty days of preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. The Easter season lasts fifty days, concluding on the feast of Pentecost.
You Will Not be Singled Out as a Visitor
When you visit St. John’s you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation or to come forward. You will worship God with us.
A ‘coffee hour’ follows the 10 am Sunday service. Please join us for refreshments and to meet us.
Should you wish to know more about the Anglican Church or St, John’s a priest will gladly answer your questions.
Adapted, with permission, from the Anglican Diocese of Montreal web site.