All Humanity relates to signs and symbols. On the Fourth of July, hats come off, hands are placed over hearts, and some even shed a tear as the flag of the United States of America passes by. Why? It's just a bit of cloth and dye, isn't it? Of course, we know that the answer is much more than that. The American Flag is Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, the Tet offensive, and the Persian Gulf. It is Admiral Perry, Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. The flag is the symbol of our identity and freedom. Symbols and signs communicate. They do not exist in and of themselves but, rather, symbolize something greater. Throughout the Old Testament and the New, God communicated by signs and symbols. Words were not enough. God wanted His people to see, to visualize truth as He taught it. At Church of the Resurrection, you are likely to encounter signs and symbols. This leaflet is prepared to aid you in your worship experience. Let the symbols help you to more fully appreciate what God has done, and is doing, in the world and in your life.
Why do you wear those funny robes?
The Alb is a white robe worn by the ministers and others who preside at the Table of the Lord. The alb represents the white robe of righteousness that all believers will one day wear in eternity. It reminds us that we may not approach God on our own merits, for our "righteousness is as filthy rags." The alb covers our street clothes to minimize the individual, so that no one may be exalted by their own appearance. Though modified, it represents the more typical dress of the early Christians. We approach the Throne of Grace boldly as people who have "washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb." It is worn with these other things:
The Cincture (pronounced SINK-chuhr) is a length of cord tied at the waist to gather and confine the alb. "Gird up your loins." In Jesus' time, people wore cinctures when going on a journey. We too are on a journey!
The Stole is the colored cloth worn about the neck by ordained ministers during the Celebration of the Eucharist or other official functions. It represents:
1) The burden or yoke of Christ gladly accepted by the minister.
2) The anointing or equipping of the Holy Spirit that God has promised to those whom He calls.
The Chausable is the "poncho" looking thing the priest wears at the Eucharist. It is used only for celebrating the Eucharist and is symbolic of Israel's 40 years spent in tents in the wilderness.
Why do your ministers wear 'collars'?
The Clerical Shirt is a shirt worn by ministers that distinctly identifies them as ministers of the Gospel. It symbolizes the collar of a servant and acts as a reminder to all, including the wearer, of this servant's role.
What is important about the Altar?
The Altar is also commonly known as the Communion Table, and is a table used for offering sacrifice. When we celebrate Holy Communion, we recall and remember the Great Sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us and for the sins of the whole world. Now we make our sacrifice of praise and
thanksgiving as well as bread and wine.
Why use candles in Church services?
The Candles in the church represent Christ as the light of the world, especially the Paschal Candle, used during Easter Season and otherwise is found next to the baptismal font at the front door. They also remind us of days gone by when only candles lit the church and provided the light by which to read the Gosel.
What is the incense for?
In Malachi 1:11 God actually commands that Incense be offered unto Him as an act of worship. Incense represents the prayers of the people rising before God as in Rev. 8:3. Additionally, incense helps us worship God with all our senses. It sets apart anything it touches for the use of God, therefore the altar, all ministers, and all the congregation are censed before receiving Holy Communion. The incense is burned and contained in a thurible.
What do all the colors represent?
The Liturgical Colors of the altar and stoles and banners represent the seasons of the Church year. The seasons and their colors are:
- Advent (Blue - symbolizes repentance, although ligher than Lent, also symbolizes the Blessed Virigin Mary)
- Christmas (White- purity or integrity of life)
- Epiphany (White and green, purity and vitality)
- Lent (Purple- repentance)
- Easter Season (White- purity, holiness)
- Pentecost (Red- Holy Spirit fire, blood of the martyrs)
- The Season After Pentecost (Green - serving the Lord in our daily lives of faith)
- Red may be used to honor a specific martyr or saint of the Church.
- Black used on Good Friday.
What is that little red candle-lamp over the altar?
The Sanctuary Lamp is the red candle kept ever burning except during the period of time following the Good Friday Service until the beginning of the Easter Vigil Service. It marks the presence of the Reserved Sacrament of Jesus' Body and Blood, kept in the Tabernacle upon which it sits.
Why does the priest blow that ram's horn?
The only temple instrument still being used today in the synagogue is the Shofar or qeren, a ram's horn without a mouthpiece. It was used as a call to arms and at religious ceremonies. (Josh 6:20; Judges 7:16-22; Zech 9:14-15). It is used to call God's people to worship
What is the little desk with all the candles on it?
The small desk to the left is the Votive Desk. Anyone may light a candle representing a special intention or need. The candle will then continue to burn before the Presence of God representing your continued concern and prayer. Votive means "special intention.
What is the Peace?
The Peace is a symbol of union and love expressed as a sincere pledge of reconciliation and peace on a personal level. It is based on Mt. 5:23-26. "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." It is done in obedience to 2 Cor. 13:12.
What does Charismatic mean?
(Gr. charismata) a gift. It refers to the Spiritual Gifts that God promises to believers and gave to the Church at Pentecost. These gifts are still active in the Church. To be charismatic is to accept the spiritual gifts that God gives us and to use them to His Glory. See 1 Cor. 12, 14, Eph. 4:11.
What does Episcopal mean?
(Gr. episkopos, overseer) Refers to the form of Government of the Church. Bishops are the overseers who have had authority to oversee the Church handed down through the ages literally from the first successor of the Apostle Peter to our bishop. The CEC, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican Churches and others are Episcopal. A copy of that documented line of succession is on file in the church office
What is a sacrament or sacramental?
(L. sacramentum,Gr. mysterion, "mystery") A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace from God. God bestows grace upon us through things like receiving Communion and anointing with oil. These are sure and certain signs that we do receive that favor or grace. The Great Sacraments are Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist instituted by Christ. The five others are Ordination, HolyMatrimony, Unction (anointing for healing), Confession, and Confirmation.
What does Eucharist mean?
(YOO-kuh-rist) The Greek word for "thanksgiving" that is the original term for Holy Communion. During the Eucharist, the symbols and movements of the ministers and acolytes remind us of the worship constantly offered around the Throne of God in Heaven, as depicted in the Book of Revelation. (Rev. 4:9, Rev. 5:8, 7:9-12) Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper when he said, "this is my Body which is broken for you, take this in remembrance of me."