Communion Q&A

Communion

At St. John’s, our primary Sunday service is that of the Holy Eucharist, which is also known as the Mass, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper.

What must I believe?

From our beginnings, we Anglicans have believed in religious toleration, and that the fullest expression of the Christian faith contains elements that are both Catholic and Protestant. Elizabeth I of England said, “There is only one Christ, Jesus, one faith.... All else is a dispute over trifles.” A contemporary writer said that she had “no desire to make windows into men’s souls,” indicating that what we believe in our hearts is between us and God—our own personal business, not something with which the church interferes.

What does the church believe?

Anglicans affirm the historic formularies of the church, including the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds and the early ecumenical councils. You are invited and encouraged to develop your own personal faith principles based on these historical norms. So long as you are comfortable worshiping with us, you are welcome here!

What about transubstantiation?

This is a medieval scientific theory of how the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. While Anglicans affirm the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, we have not presumed to legislate how God accomplishes this. In other words, we are generally comfortable accepting divine mystery.

What god do we worship?

We proclaim the one and only God, who is creator of heaven and earth. We are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who we accept as our Savior and obey as our Lord. And we worship together in the presence of the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth and brings us into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, our neighbors, and all creation.

What do we call God?

We worship the Triune God, one God in three persons, biblically expressed as “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” At St. John’s, we take care to balance the historical nature of such gendered expressions with more inclusive and expansive imagery. God transcends male and female, after all.

From where does our tradition stem?

Our worship is based on a rich liturgical tradition of ancient Christian rituals that go all the way back to the early church, and on fixed texts found in the Book of Common Prayer and other sources. The prayer book has its origin in the Church of England, which is why Episcopalians are also known as Anglicans: we are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, with over 80 million members in 44 separate church bodies in over 160 countries. The Archbishop of Canterbury in England is our spiritual leader and symbol of unity here on earth.

Can I sit back and just listen?

If you must, sure—but to fully engage us, our liturgy requires the active participation of the whole congregation in prayer, song, and action. We involve our minds, bodies, souls, and all of our senses in worship. We sing quite a bit, and we invite you to bring the voice God gave you to join in our joyful song. Anglican worship can be reflective or solemn, but it’s also joyous, and sometimes even awe inspiring. It can seem a bit complex to newcomers, so we print a complete and “user-friendly” service bulletin, containing instructions and texts you need to participate fully in our worship.

What about sermons?

We base our sermons on biblical texts that are read throughout the year in a prescribed order, outlined in the Revised Common Lectionary; this gives us an opportunity to read through much of the Bible in a thee-year cycle.

Who is welcome?

In response to Christ’s radical hospitality, we practice “open communion” at St. John’s, which means that no matter what your faith or denomination, you are welcome at Christ’s table. We believe that sharing the bread and common cup is the beginning of our conversation together as followers of one God. We invite everyone to worship with us—the faithful, the skeptic, the seeker, even the heretic.   St. John's is an inclusive faith community regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.  We strive to be a place where there are no outcasts.