The Holy Eucharist

The "Liturgical" Church

The Episcopal Church is a “liturgical” church, which means that its worship follows ancient patterns that go back to the first century Church. We find that the repetition of these prayers, songs, readings, and bodily actions root us more deeply in the presence of God and sustain us in our daily lives.

The principal form of Christian worship on Sunday mornings is the Holy Eucharist, known also as Holy Communion, The Lord’s Supper, or in other religious traditions as the Mass. At Trinity, we celebrate the Eucharist according to the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer 1979 and other texts approved by General Convention (the triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church). “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word for “Thanksgiving,” and that is essentially what we do when we come together. The Eucharist follows a fourfold pattern:

  • First, we GATHER as a people, with songs, prayers, and a “collect of the day,” which is a prayer that literally “collects” us into one body.
  • The we hear the WORD of God in scripture and preaching. Usually we read one lesson from the Hebrew Scriptures, respond with a Psalm (which is also from the Hebrew scriptures), hear a second lesson from the letters of the New Testament, and then stand for a reading from one of the four Gospels, which are stories of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. 
  • After the Word, our attention moves to the TABLE, offering God in our gifts and our thanks and praise. We remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his sacrifice on the cross. In giving thanks, we are acknowledging the holiness of everything God has given us, but we focus especially on Jesus’ promise to be present with us in the bread and wine. 
  • The liturgy of the Eucharist concludes by SENDING the gathered assembly out into the world “to love and serve the Lord.” The emphasis on our life and work in the world as disciples of Jesus – Eucharist begins in church, but continues throughout the week in our daily lives.

What We Believe About the Eucharist

As Episcopalians (part of the larger Anglican tradition), we believe the “Real Presence” – that Christ is truly and fully present in the sacrament of the bread and the wine. When we partake in the Body of Christ, we are joined with Christ in his death and resurrection. All those baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, regardless of their Christian denomination, are invited to receive the sacrament.

The Holy Eucharist is truly communion – not just with God, but with each other. Holy Communion is not just a “me and Jesus” moment – it is a radical act of solidarity with all who have gathered around the Lords’ Table.

The Anglican/Episcopal tradition calls its members to attend the Eucharist weekly. We find that this practice is essential to sustaining us in our life in Christ and in our Christian vocation.