When the gathered community meet for worship, it is a celebration of life together united in the life of Jesus. His way reveals a way that brings all people together in welcome – without conditions. All are Welcome because all are loved. Public worship may take a number of forms but the main forms of worship are the Holy Eucharist and The Quiet Time.
The Holy Eucharist: Our main Sunday worship
Within the Episcopal Tradition the primary focus is on the Eucharist. What is the Eucharist? The best way to understand is perhaps to become aware of the man who reveals God for us.
Jesus of Nazareth lived a life that brought healing, forgiveness and justice to those whose lives were touched by his. His followers included the people that others rejected or ignored. His teaching of peace and justice threatened the powers that be at that time, including the Empire-building Romans and the collaborating Religious Leadership. The subsequent death of Jesus on the cross was however not the end.
The Eucharist is a thankful offering to God. In the offering of bread as his body and of the wine as his blood we proclaim before God and one another that the life of Jesus was broken but not destroyed. In the eating and drinking of that sacred offering we join together with that life of love and challenge. We are forged as a people in one Spirit. The celebration is presided over by the Bishop, or a priest in the Bishop’s stead. The Bishop or Priest symbolises the unity of the whole Church in Jesus Christ. In our tradition it is that gathering of the whole Church, both physically in a certain place and spiritually and symbolically in the person of the Bishop or Priest, that says ‘this is the Eucharist of Jesus in his whole Church at all times and in all places”.
This is the life we celebrate. This is the life we recognise as being the divine life – the life which Jesus taught us to follow. This is the life seeded within us and which we aspire to bring to growth. This is our Eucharist, our thanksgiving to God.
The Quiet Time
On Monday mornings in St. Columba’s in Brora we spend time in stillness and in peace. We listen to words from the writings of our tradition, maybe from The Bible, maybe from one of our great spiritual heroes. There may be some thought or reflection offered.
Then we spend time in quiet contemplation and reflection. A time of silent prayer. Jesus told us not to look for God in great signs and wonders but in the quiet and stillness of our own selves and to listen to the voice within our hearts.
It is a time of rest. It is a time to be refreshed. It is a time simply to be still and to know God’s presence and his peace
The Service of the Word and distribution from the Reserved Sacrament
During the week at St. Finnbarr’s in Dornoch and St. Andrew’s in Tain there will often be a Service of the Word with the reception of Holy Communion.
In this service there is the hearing of scripture, and sometimes other writings honoured by time and experience. Together people will spend time thinking and meditating upon God and God’s message for us.
After hearing and contemplating the Word, people will share in the sacramental bread and wine, from a previous celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday. This is ‘reception of the Reserved Sacrament’. Why do we receive from sacramental elements already consecrated rather than celebrate the Eucharist? Usually this is because the service will be led by a Lay minister or a deacon rather than a priest, who at the Eucharistic celebration stands in the stead of the Bishop representing the unity of the whole Church in Christ.