Worship requires preparation. Sunday worship cannot be isolated from the life of prayer that we live during the week. If the only prayer we practice is the time we spend in church on Sunday, worship is not likely to have a transforming impact on our lives. The habit of daily Bible reading will lead us to glean more from the Sunday lessons and sermon. The daily experience through prayer of communion with the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost will lead us to a greater experience of communion at the altar.
Be in church at least five to ten minutes early for personal prayer. Allow time before worship to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46). Consider where you are in your relationship with God. What sins do you need to confess? What thanksgivings and petitions do you want to offer?
The symbols of the church aid our worship. They remind us of the true nature of things-the way heaven really is, as opposed to the “vain pomp and glory of the world” (BCP 276). The altar of God is the centerpiece because we come to the Father through the sacrifice of the Son. The cross is exalted. The risen Christ sits enthroned as Lord of all. The icons of St. Mary and St. George remind us of our participation in the communion of the saints.
Christ is present in the Sacrament, which is reserved on the altar in the tabernacle. The presence of the reserved Sacrament is indicated by the sanctuary lamp. This is a candle that burns continuously to the left of the altar. As we enter the pew we genuflect (touch the right knee to the ground) before the Sacrament to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.
The time before the liturgy begins should also be used for practical preparation. Look at the bulletin, mark the prayer book and hymnal for the lessons and hymns so that you are prepared to participate in the liturgy.