YOUR FIRST VISIT TO St MICHAEL’S
It can seem a little daunting to go to a church service if you haven’t been before or if it’s been a little while since you last went. The most important thing to remember when you join us is not to worry about the strange customs of the congregation and just make yourself at home!
The Parish Eucharist starts at 10am on a Sunday. Everyone is invited to come along and join in the worship. Children are welcome too. People often worry that the children will make noise and be disruptive but don’t worry; the Rector and especially the curate can be noisy too! Just come along and join in. There is usually a crèche and Young Church in the meeting room in church, someone will happily show you the way.
Hopefully this page will make some sense of what to expect when you join us.
St Michael’s is a friendly community and we do our best to recognise and welcome all first-time visitors, but if we don’t manage as well as we’d like, don’t be afraid to say “hello” to someone. If you’re looking for space to be on your own we will try our best to respect that. At the end of the Eucharist, there is a cup of coffee (or tea or juice) going. Come along and meet us- you’ll see that we’re not all weird.
Here are some things you probably want to know, especially if you are not a regular church-goer:
The Eucharist follows a set structure, but there will be small changes as the seasons change throughout the year.
THE OPENING PART
Just before the service starts the Rector reads out any notices and Banns of Marriage.
Then we usually start with a hymn; a song worshipping God. Normally our singing is usually accompanied by the organ and the words will be in the red hymn book (the hymn number is usually displayed on a board at the front of church) or, for major festivals the hymns are printed in the service book. The hymn numbers and readings are also printed on the weekly sheet which also has the news/notices for the week. Please can take the weekly sheet home with you at the end of the service.
As we sing the hymn, the choir and clergy will enter.
When the hymn finishes and the priest gets to their place, there will be the opening prayers. The words that you need will be found in the service booklet. If you’re not sure when to join in, don’t worry. Join in the parts that you can, printed in bold on the service sheet.
Some people worry about when to stand, sit or kneel. The easiest thing is to follow the crowd, but if you are frail, please make sure that you are comfortable (if that means that you sit throughout the service, we don’t mind).
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE
We will hear readings from the bible. When the priest comes to read their part, they will sing “Alleluia” or a song of praise showing that the bible is a holy thing. After the readings have finished, the priest (or an appointed person) will teach and explain the meaning of the readings before we declare our faith in the words of the Creed (the words are printed in the service booklet).
As the needs of the church and the world constantly change, these prayers will differ each week. Someone from the congregation will lead the prayers, which usually respond to the readings that we have just heard. Prayers are offered for those who are ill and those who have died. We are invited to join in the responses.
Jesus Christ invites us to come to him to make our peace with him, but before we do that we need to make peace with ourselves and each other. We will shake hands with each other whilst saying “peace be with you” in our attempt to make sure that we are not at odds with one another. We sing a hymn whilst the altar is prepared for communion.
Bread and wine are placed on the altar. The priest prays that God will send his Holy Spirit to transform it into the body and blood of Christ. This is following the commandment that Jesus gave us. Again, using evidence from the bible, we believe that the bread and wine don’t just represent, but become the body and blood of Christ even though they still look like bread and wine.
Once the prayer of blessing has been said, we say The Lord’s Prayer (the one that starts “Our Father in heaven”) and then the bread, which has become the body of Christ, is broken so that it can be shared. We invite those who would usually receive communion to come forward and receive it. If you are not receiving communion, you are still invited to come forward to the priest who will place their hand on your head and pray that God will bless you.
THE LAST BIT
The altar is cleared away and the priest will lead a prayer of thanksgiving. The priest will give God’s blessing before challenging us to go out into the world proclaiming the love of God. The service ends with a hymn or an organ voluntary before we all go for refreshments and a chance to catch up.