Coming to church - what to expect
The first thing to say is that you will be very welcome!
The 9.30 service on Sunday is a communion service. This is the central act of worship for most Christians and in it we draw close to God and give thanks for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The focal point of the service is when the priest blesses the bread and wine which represent the body and blood of Jesus and shares them with the members of the congregation. It's a quiet moment of deep meaning when we can feel God's presence around us and renew our faith and strength.
The service at St John's is in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England so that means we start with a procession when the choir and clergy come into church and on festivals there may well be incense. The singing at St John's is always enthusiastic and musical so we'll get the service off to a rousing start with a hymn. The congregation will begin their preparations for communion by saying a prayer where they admit their sins and failings and the priest offers them God's forgiveness.
A member of the congregation will give a reading from the Bible and then one of the clergy will bring the gospels down into the centre of the church and after the people have sung an Alleluia we hear the day's gospel reading. Then comes the sermon which will reflect on the readings or an issue in Christian life. The preaching at St John's is challenging and often humorous.
After the sermon the congregation say the creed which is printed in the service books. The creed summarises the main beliefs of the church. This is followed by the 'peace' when people can shake hands with their neighbours.
The last part of the service is the communion itself. The bread and wine are brought up to the altar and offered up to God. People come up to the front to receive communion. Anyone who is baptised and receives communion in their own church is welcome to receive communion at St John's. If you are not a communicant the priest will invite you to receive a blessing.
The children from the Sunday School come into church during communion and we finish with the last hymn.
Our worship at St John's can be solemn, uplifting, comforting and challenging and is always friendly and warm. When we come to church at St John's we are taking part in a tradition that stretches back through thousands of years but is still fresh and meaningful today.
Sunday is the time that we meet together as a community and we follow the service with coffee and a chance to chat and perhaps shop at the Traidcraft stall.