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"This is none other but the house of God and the gate of heaven." Genesis 28.17



The Liturgy of the Eucharist


Before all else, St Mary Magdalen Church exists for the worship of Almighty God and as such our services are designed to lift the heart and mind to encounter the the love of God.


This may sound very theological, but at the heart of all that we are as human beings is love, real love which is lived out through an act of worship. The Holy Eucharist (The Holy Communion) is the source and summit of our Christian life, and this is our primary act of worship on a Sunday morning. This is not simply a meal of remembrance, where in bread and wine we remember events in the distant past, but in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly kingdom.


"Blessed be the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever and to the ages of ages." Thus begins, the Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist of Saint John Chrysostom, and this is very helpful for us, because it is the Kingdom of God which is our ultimate destination and the fulfilment of creation. In the Eucharist, this Kingdom becomes something touchable and mystically heaven and earth unite, and we join the angels and archangels in joy and praise.



Facing East


One of the unique aspects of our Church is that the Liturgy is predominantly offered facing east. In many ways, it may feel as though the clergy have their back to the congregation, however there is a great deal more going on.


The Eucharist is a 'foretaste of the heavenly banquet' as our prayers say, and as such Christians have faced east in worship from the very early church. We too face east in joyful expectation of the second coming of Christ. "As surely as the sun rises, He will appear" Hosea 6. 3


We are therefore untied, as the people of God, both priest and people in facing east as we await the coming of Lord in glory. The liturgy comes to its fulfilment as the faithful receive Holy Communion. It is here, where the Risen Lord meets us truly, where heart speaks unto heart, and we partake of the divine nature. We enter into the great mystery of our salvation, where the dignity of creation is renewed and restored. The Lord invites us into this mystery or relationship of love, "I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty... whoever eats of this bread will live forever" John 6. 35


“In the Christian context, we do not mean by a "mystery" merely that which is baffling and mysterious, an enigma or insoluble problem. A mystery is, on the contrary, something that is revealed for our understanding, but which we never understand exhaustively because it leads into the depth or the darkness of God. The eyes are closed—but they are also opened.” Kallistos Ware - The Orthodox Way



Holy Incense


"Be blessed by Him in whose honour thou art burnt, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." The blessing of incense.


Our liturgy and worship engage the whole body. We see a great deal of liturgical action and movement; we sit, stand and kneel, we sing hymns and settings for the liturgy, we taste of the holy of holies in Holy Communion, we hear beautiful music and prayers, and we smell the blessed burning incense to the glory of God.


This liturgical use of incense finds its origin in the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. It is used to give honour to holy things and holy people. The altar, the bread and wine of Communion, the Gospel book and the people of God are censed in order to show their importance in worship. At St Mary Magdalen Church, we use different 'flavours' of incense in different Christian seasons, such as Christmas, Lent and Easter.



Liturgical Vestments


The Sacred Ministers (Priest, Deacon and Subdeacon) wear vestments during the liturgy. The vestments come in different colours and styles, however their main purpose is to encourage dignity, order and solemnity in our worship. They are holy things for holy use, and help the ministers to focus their hearts and minds in leading others in worship. White vestments are used in the seasons of Christmas and Easter, blue vestments are used in Advent, green vestments are used for the majority of the year, 'sackcloth' vestments are used in lent and red vestments are used at Pentecost.


Their other purpose is to hide the individuality and personality of the sacred ministers, as they are there only to 'lend their hand and voice' for the Lord, but it is the Lord who consecrates, sanctifies and blesses our liturgy. In receiving Holy Communion the priest, in the person of Christ hidden by the vestments, offers the the communicant the holy Bread of eternal life rather than the individual person administering Holy Communion.



The architecture of our Church building and the worship we offer is beautiful, peaceful and moving. It is designed to lead one away from the material and ordinary, into an encounter with the divine, who consecrates our minds, our souls and bodies afresh as we behold our God who makes all things new.


“We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.” Kallistos Ware - The Orthodox Way

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