Glorifying God Together
It takes faithful curiosity and even courage to walk through wooden doors and join an unfamiliar community in worship. We know this, because all of us were “new” somewhere, sometime. Knowing this, Holy Trinity Essex does everything we can to make the experience as easy and welcoming as possible. We provide you with a hearty greeting, help, and all the materials you need to follow the service. We invite you to relax and know that Holy Trinity Essex worship is a judgment-free zone. Follow, don’t follow, do as we do, or do as you wish to do. Learn, watch, or throw yourself right in. We will be alongside to answer questions, or let you be, if that is best for you! We hope you will feel valued.
Ask our greeters or ushers, or anyone, if you have any questions. Someone will even sit with you and guide you, if you wish. When you visit, you will receive a bag of gifts. Included are five short cards that share, at a glance, information about the Episcopal faith. The first time you visit and also fill out a visitor card, you will receive a greeting from the church office and an invitation to receive the newsletter. If you visit more than twice, we will prepare a name tag for you, which you will find on the hook in the narthex (entry way) marked, “Newcomer.” On this name tag we leave room for you to place words about yourself to others, or not. In short, we don’t assign “labels” at Holy Trinity Essex. Let us know how we can know you!
The Liturgy: A Moving Church
OK, yes, we are a traditional denomination, with a practice of standing and sitting, kneeling, and moving. The church has been doing this since the first century. Even the “least liturgical” denominations have some form of service. There are times of singing, times of prayer, times of reading Scripture, and times of listening to teachings. Every denomination has some sort of calendar. These things in The Episcopal Church are simply inherited across centuries, and express the abundance of a gathering of experiences.
Our life is various, colorful, expressive of the cycle of seasons in creation, in the history of our salvation, the story of God found in the Word, and a calendar of remembering all these things! We are formed in memory, in repetitions of thoughts and movements through Word/Scripture and Sacrament/holy signs and actions. We are formed as one as we do the same things. We believe that our unity, our oneness, is very important to God, who is One. So, our faith tradition does not see itself as simply doing the same things, but doing the same things in an infinite number of ways and expressions that comfort, guide, and form us, and bring us all together into the oneness and reflection of God.
ABOUT THE SERVICES
Sunday Morning, The Lord’s Day
The world is surprised to learn that Sunday, not Monday, is the first day of the week – or so believes the Church. On this day, the Day of Resurrection, we are formed in the likeness of Christ. Strengthened by Jesus, the Word, the Sacrament, we prepared to enter the world to work, play, and SERVE.
The worship service, called a liturgy (from a Greek word meaning work of the people), is centered in The Holy Eucharist. This is the principal worship of The Episcopal Church, celebrated every Sunday, every “Holy”/”Feast” day. This Holy Eucharist is known in other denominations also as The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Divine Worship, or the Mass. The Eucharist is the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection through the re-enactment of his Last Supper, the Passover Feast. It is made both tangible (through an ordinary presentation) and intangible (through extraordinary blessing) in the Bread and Wine.
Through the Eucharistic service, the people of God are both instructed and reminded of essential aspects of the Christian life. We gather, we address God with praise, and we hear the Word and the Word taught through a sermon/homily. We affirm our one faith (Creed), offer collected prayers, confess our sins and are reminded through the redemption of our Christ that we are forgiven, and we offer our gifts to God. We take these gifts to the altar for these to be received, blessed, broken, and redistributed, unifying us once again by grace. Then, we return to the work of the Good News, dismissed as a transformed people, to live new lives repeatedly, serving Jesus in the mission field—the whole world beyond the door.
8am, Holy Eucharist Rite I
You will find that the 8am Holy Eucharist, what the Book of Common Prayer has termed, Rite I, is quiet and solemn. We enter in solemnity and maintain this quiet throughout the service. The language is Elizabethan English, harking to our denominational heritage. What this means is that you will hear and say a lot of thee, thine, and hear old English terms that are unfamiliar to some, such as “brake” instead of “broke,” and phraseology such as, “innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.” If you are a newcomer, you may get more tangled in the interpretation than the experience of the liturgy. However, for those who have worshipped long in the denomination, or those from other denominations who have formed their piety in similar terms, these are comfortable words indicating home and belonging.
We hear often that families are looking for a church home. If you are attending for the first time, hoping to meet families with children and teens, and introduce your family to the same, it is a matter of hospitality to share that while we hope all generations will encounter the fullness of the faith tradition, children and youth attend this service only very occasionally.
The theology of the Rite I liturgy focuses upon repentance. Having grown out of post-conflict and otherwise difficult periods in history, the words of the service remind the worshiper that our misdeeds and responsibilities for these are real, but they are also redeemed by the action on the Cross.
At Holy Trinity Essex there is no music during the Rite I. There is no processional or recessional. There is less liturgical action than in the later service. The essentials of Word and Sacrament remain. The Dismissal, also, is quiet. Some worshipers go about with their Sunday; many go to breakfast in Teresa Shutte-Regester Hall, and from there to Christian Education. You are invited to do both, and celebrate new friendships.
10:00am, Holy Eucharist Rite II
The 10:00 am Holy Eucharist, termed the Rite II, reflects the theology and contemporary language of the liturgical reforms of the 1970s, which were spurred by a liturgical renewal in Catholicism the decade before. Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and some others, followed. We moved the altar closer to the people, with the priest facing the people. We adopted the “common” language of a “common” people and experience, allowing for “common” prayer and worship. The Book of Common Prayer, 500 years ago, made an English-language service available to an English-speaking people, anticipated the all people’s needs to hear the liturgy in the familiar language of the culture and times. The use of contemporary, “common” language is completely faithful to the intents (and even the martyrdoms) of the early reformers who gave us a prayer book.
The current prayer book is the product of a refocus upon the liturgical practices of the earliest centuries of Christian worship. It reclaimed these in the Holy Eucharist Rite II, along with a redemption language, orienting our faith as an Easter People, redeemed and celebrating. With this celebration comes with responsibility to remember, to be formed, to work, pray, and give of ourselves, and through the strengthening of the Holy Eucharist, to keep our baptismal promises, serving others in Jesus’ Holy Name.
All these things compel us to joy, even in penitential seasons (times in the year when we examine our lives and admit our faults). At Holy Trinity Essex we express that joy beginning at the door with the kind of greetings you would hear between friends who have not seen each other for long. We believe this is how Jesus would welcome each of us at the door! There is music in a variety of forms: ancient, traditional, spiritual, ethnic, renewal, contemporary (radio), from other Christian traditions, and from our own tradition, found in the hymnals.
This liturgy is fully traditional and fully orthodox, with all processions and practices! Yet, to these are added art, lively preaching, presentations, laughter when appropriate, and the sense that you are home with the family for a holiday, because for Holy Trinity Essex, the senses of Christmas and Easter–Jesus’ coming, preaching, teaching, healing, feeding, dying, and rising–
are ever present in the worship. We celebrate that we are all ministers, gathered in adoring Christ.
Children and families abound in this service. They sing with gladness, and children will sometimes be moved to dancing, reminding us all that Jesus told the adults to let the children come to him, and not stand in their ways.
Worshipers at the Rite II may have come from breakfast (9am) and Christian Education (9:10am), and may also go to Coffee Hour, immediately following the service. Others just come and go. We respect your other plans and will not press you. Mostly, worshipers are drawn to come early to fellowship, and stay into the afternoon enjoying one another! In short, Holy Trinity Essex LOVES being together, and we will love being together with you, in worship, formed by worship, in fellowship, and in service to others!
Infant and Toddler Nurseries
There is a Nursery in operation during the 10:00 am Rite II, and for holy day services. It is located just down the hall from the worship space, and parents who wish to have a little “adult time” can make use of it with confidence. Attendants bring the children back into worship at the time for Communion. Additionally, there is a soothing area at the back of the church with a rocker and soft toys, right under a painting of Jesus with the Children. This area is also used for nursing. If a more private area is desired, the Infant Nursery or Parlor provide this space. Just ask anyone for directions.
You will notice that our pews are a little old. We have plans to improve these, but it will take time to afford this. We ask you to be patient with us! We have installed an accessible area at the back of the worship space. We realize this is not optimal, but it is what our space allowed. The important thing is that we know that it is important not to single out those with special needs, but to invite everyone with any ability to be integrated into the unity, wherever each feels comfortable. Holy Trinity Essex is cognizant of sad times in history when the Church-at-large seated certain persons in certain spaces, for the “comfort” of the majority. So, we are praying for the means, and working towards a more integrated, welcoming vision for our worship space.