The word liturgy is an ancient Greek word, roughly translated “the work of the people.” It is a good reminder that worship, and most supremely the Holy Eucharist, is the work of God’s people. Worship is not intended to be a passive spectator sport, but our dutiful sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered up unto our Lord. God is the audience for our prayers and praises; we are the performers.
And like all good work, training and preparation affect the quality of the performance. But of course, worship is also about us; about our coming to receive spiritual refreshment, instruction, forgiveness, renewal, and the grace of the sacraments. But here too, what we get out of something depends often on what we put into something; an here too preparation can be a means to a deeper encounter with the living God in the church’s liturgy.
So set some time aside Saturday or early Sunday morning to prepare for the Liturgy of the Holy Eucharist:
- Read the Scriptures appointed for this Sunday. The Sunday lectionary can be found in the clergy schedule.
- Bring your own specific intercessions and thanksgivings to be offered up silently or aloud during the prayers of the people. One ancient tradition is to come to the Eucharist with a special intention that is a particular focus of your prayer for the liturgy. It might be something important coming up in your life that week. It might be a special concern for a sick family member or friend. It might be that you feel a special burden about something: peace in Afghanistan, a certain mission project, the unity of the church etc.
- Do an examination of conscience for the week past. Where are you especially aware of sins in your life? How have you especially fallen short of the glory of God in your life this week? Offer these sins up during the General Confession. Also, where do you need to make amends with anyone this week? Is there anyone you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from? The liturgical kiss of peace is a reminder that we must be in love and charity with one another before coming to communion. (See Matt. 5:23-24).
- Prepare for the offertory by writing your tithing checks. If God has sent you some special financial blessings this week, make an extra check designated for one of our mission projects, the Rector’s Fund, or for some other ministry area you want to encourage (music, arts, church school, youth, etc.). Poor students: remember the widow’s mite! Any offering sacrificially given is honored by the Lord.