“We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving…” (BCP 363)
Christ Church Greenwich is an Eucharistic community: our common life of fellowship, prayer, and service is grounded in the weekly communal celebration of the sacrament of bread and wine. The word “Eucharist” means “to give thanks.” Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, as well as on holidays and special occasions, this community gathers at the altar to give thanks to God for the blessings of this life, especially for the gift of love given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The regular celebrations of the Holy Eucharist at Christ Church Greenwich embody a variety of different worship styles. Some, like our 8:00 am Sunday, 10:00 am Tuesday, or 12:00 noon Thursday services, are quiet and reflective, with no music and a brief homily. Other services, especially our 9:15 am and 11:00 am Sunday morning services, are lively and joyful, with music provided by one of our excellent choirs.
While the character of the specific services may change, the basic structure of the Eucharist always remains the same. Each celebration begins with prayers and praises, usually with two lessons from Holy Scripture. The sermon or homily invites us to engage with the text of the Bible, to find inspiration or to discern a challenge, and to consider the work of ministry to which God is calling each of us. In our prayers and supplications, we offer thanks to God for our life and salvation, ask forgiveness for our sins, and bring before God our own needs and the needs of the whole world. Standing at the altar, the Lord’s Table, the priest remembers the self-offering of Jesus Christ by repeating the words that Jesus spoke over bread and wine at his Last Supper with his disciples: “Take, eat: This is my body, which is given for you…Drink this, all of you: This is my blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Calling down the Holy Spirit on the bread and wine, the priest prays that the gifts upon the altar may be for us “the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him.” With this prayer in our hearts, we partake of the consecrated bread and wine, offer a final thanksgiving, receive a blessing, and are sent out “to love and serve the Lord.”
At Christ Church Greenwich, there are many opportunities for lay people to take part in leading worship, either as Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, choristers and instrumentalists, Altar Guild members, Ushers, or Vergers. Though it is a priest who presides at the altar, the Eucharist is an act of worship and praise offered by all the people of the parish, the Body of Christ in this place.
When we receive the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist, we are united with God and one another in Christ. When we come to God’s table we are filled with God’s love, assured of God’s forgiveness, nourished by God’s grace, and sent out to serve the world in Jesus’ name.