Welcome to St John’s
This is a “picture walk” through a 10.30 Sunday morning service, which is in substance just like any church service. But many people are not used to churches, and they are not always what you think they will be. St John’s does things in its own way, and this picture walk may help you feel more quickly at home if you come along one day.
Christians understand the “Mass”, or “Holy Communion”, as very special, for it unites us with Jesus Christ, and is in its way a kind of fore-shadowing of heaven. This does not seem obvious at first – it is intentionally quite different from most of our everyday life.
After some preliminaries, including a welcome and notices, we sing the first hymn, for which the choir processes round the church.
After the hymn, the Frogs – “Sunday school” – go out. They come back halfway through the service and tell us what they have done, usually with something to show.
We continue with words of confession, when we admit to God our weakness, and ask his forgiveness. The Gloria is sung; and then two Bible readings are read.
After the second hymn, there is a reading from the Gospels. There is a small procession, and the reading is in the middle of the congregation. Here the Gospel reader is Rev. Jill Hartman.
There is a sermon straight after the gospel. The sermons are preached by a variety of people, often the Rector, but also by the Deacon, the Reader, or retired or visiting clergy. They are carefully prepared and it’s not often you don’t learn something or get reminded of it.
Prayers for the needs of the world, and for our own needs, are usually led by a layperson (someone who has not been ordained).
After these prayers, we share the peace. This takes a little while as people mingle, greet each other, and there is a gentle cheerful hubbub.
During the hymn after the “Peace”, the altar table is prepared for communion. This is the point to which our worship has been heading. Throughout the service, incense is used. Incense is a strong part of the church’s tradition; it symbolises prayer, it adds a sense of the mystery of God, and dignity.
Bread and wine are consecrated for Communion, with reverence and ceremony. Father David Hill presides here at the table, and consecrates the bread and wine.
The communion is the heart of Christian worship, when we recall Jesus’s death for us. It is a time of reverence, of quiet reflection, and nourishment. It brings to life in a unique way the unity of Christian people with Jesus himself.
The consecrated bread and wine are received by the congregation.
The church welcomes people in wheelchairs (access is easy). The ministers also bring the consecrated bread and wine to those unable to come forward.
In the final hymn the choir process to the back of the church.
After the service, coffee and other drinks are available and many people stay a few minutes to chat, to make new friends and so forth.
The church is able to welcome with any disability, including the visually impaired (and their dogs in some cases). There is a loop system – but the service is not presently signed for the deaf.
When you visit the church, be sure to look out for the plain glass windows, as well as the stained glass.