Liturgy literally means “work of the people.” We use this word to reference the beliefs, customs, and traditions that make up our worship.

Revised Common Lectionary

Parish of the Good Shepherd follows the Revised Common Lectionary. For a list of the current and upcoming readings click here.

Sunday Services

Most of our services are from the Book of Common Prayer (the “BCP”). The Book of Common Prayer is the service book of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church provides an online Book of Common Prayer.

Our services can be considered more traditional and ceremonial than many denominations. The service often begins with a procession from back of the church up to the altar, led by the cross accompanied by lit candles. The people carrying the cross and candles we call “acolytes.” There are readings from the Hebrew Bible, the Epistles, and the Gospel. The Gospel is read from the nave by an ordained member of the clergy, to symbolize the word of God coming to the people. Following the readings, we have a rich tradition of excellent sermons that tie in the words of the Bible with our lives today.

The celebration of Eucharist is central to our worship.  It is the place where we encounter God in the Bread and Wine of Holy Communion; the Body and Blood of Jesus given for the salvation of the world. Children come from Church School to take part in Holy Eucharist. All baptized Christians regardless of denomination may receive both the body and blood.

Our service ends with a blessing from the priest. We invite everyone to join our community in the Parish Hall for Coffee Hour.

Terms You Might Hear

Acolyte: One who assists the priest.

Advent Wreath: Four candles arranged in a circle, one of which is lighted on the first Sunday in Advent, and one more on each of the following Sundays in Advent. A white candle, the Christ Candle, is placed in the center of the circle and lighted on Christmas Eve, and thereafter during the Christmas season.

Adonai: The proper name for God, Yahweh, was understood to be too holy to pronounce, Adonai was substituted. In most English translations, following this tradition, the Lord in upper case is used rather than the name Yahweh, which stands in the original Hebrew. 

Agnus Dei: Latin for “Lamb of God.” The fraction anthem “Lamb of God” is based on Jn 1:29, and may be used in the celebration of the Eucharist at the breaking of the bread (BCP, pp. 337, 407). The invocation is repeated three times, with the first two invocations followed by the phrase “Have mercy upon us.” The third invocation is concluded by the phrase “Grant us thy peace.” The text of the Agnus Dei is also used in the Great Litany (BCP, p. 152).

Alb: The long white hooded robe which the priest wears for services of Holy Eucharist.

Alleluia: A liturgical expression of praise, “Praise ye the Lord,” from the Hebrew Hallelujah. The BCP states that Alleluia is omitted during Lent

Alms Basin: An offering plate.

Altar: The Holy Table upon which the Holy Eucharist is celebrated.

Altar Rail: A railing in front of the altar that separates the chancel from the rest of the church.

Amen: Congregational response of assent to liturgical prayers. Amen derives from a Hebrew word that means “truly” or “so be it.” 

Anointing : Sacramental use of oil as an outward sign of God’s active presence for healing, initiation, or ordination

Anglican Communion: a group of Christian Churches including the Church of England, the Church of Ireland, the Episcopal Church in Scotland, the Church in Wales, and the Episcopal Church in the US, all of which are in full communion with each other

Aumbry: The ‘wall cabinet’ in the sanctuary that contains consecrated bread and wine. Also referred to as a ‘tabernacle’.

Benediction: the utterance or bestowing of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service.

Baptistry or Baptistery: The place where the font is located, usually near the entrance of the church.

Bishop: The highest order of the sacred ministry in the Anglican Church; the head of the Diocese, elected by the Diocese

Bishop Coadjutor: A bishop elected and given jurisdiction to assist and later to succeed the diocesan Bishop.

Bishop Suffragan: A bishop elected to assist the diocesan bishop, but without jurisdiction or right of succession.

Presiding Bishop: Head of the Episcopal Church.

Bishop’s Chair (Cathedra): A special chair on the gospel side of the sanctuary, reserved for the diocesan bishop on his visitations.

Book of Common Prayer: the official service book of the Church of England and, with some variation, of other churches of the Anglican Communion. It was compiled by Thomas Cranmer and others and first issued in 1549.

Bread Boxes:  the small, round, silver ‘boxes’ with lids which hold the wafers for the Eucharist.

Burse: A square flat case used to hold the corporal, the post communion veil, if used, and purificator. It is placed on the veiled chalice at the Eucharist.

Canticle: is a hymn, psalm or other song of praise taken from biblical texts other than the Psalms.

Cassock: The long garment which the priest wears under a white surplice for services other than the Eucharist. On Good Friday black cassocks are worn without the surplice.

Celebration: The consecration and administration of the Holy Eucharist.

Chalicer: One who administers the wine from the chalice during communion

Chalice:  The ‘goblet’ from which wine is served.

Chancel: The area which contains the choir pews, the organ, the pulpit, the lectern, and the altar.

Chasuble: The ‘poncho-shaped’ garment which the celebrant wears for the Eucharist.

Chimere: A long garment with arm holes, but without sleeves. It is worn by a bishop over the rochet and may be either red or black.

Cincture: A wide flat cloth belt or girdle worn around the cassock.

Collect: short general prayer of a particular structure (you/who/do/through) used in Christian liturgy.

Cope: A long, elaborate cloak of colored silk or brocade worn by a bishop or priest at festival occasions. It has a clasp at the neck called a morse.

Cotta: A white garment similar to a surplice, but shorter and without a cross on the front. Worn by choir and acolytes over the cassock.

Credence Table or Shelf: The shelf on the Epistle side of the Altar. This table holds the wine and wafers to be consecrated, the lavabo bowl, and the lavabo towel.

Creed: a formal statement of Christian beliefs, especially the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed.

Crozier: A bishop’s pastoral staff.

Crucifer: The cross-bearer in a procession.

Crucifix: The cross with the figure of our Lord upon it.

Deacon: One of three holy orders of the ministry.  In the Episcopal Church a deacon exercises “a special ministry of servanthood” directly under the deacon’s bishop, serving all people and especially those in need

Dean: The chief of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral; also the head of a seminary.

Diocese: The see or jurisdiction of a bishop.

Elements: The bread, wine, and water which are used at the Eucharist.

Elohim: a name for God used frequently in the Hebrew Bible.

Epiclesis: The invocation of the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic prayer.

Epistle Side: The right side of the chancel as one faces the altar.

Eucharist: The service of Holy Communion.

Eucharistic Candlesticks: The pair of candlesticks which is on the altar. These candles are lit only and when the Eucharist is celebrated. These are the only candles that go on the altar.

Evangelism: Formed from the noun evangel (from the Greek euanggelion, “good news”), it means simply “pertaining to the gospel.”

Ewer: The large pitcher which holds water for baptisms. When there is a baptism, the ewer is filled with hot water just before the service, and placed on a small table near the font.

Fair Linen: The large white linen cloth which covers the altar, on top of the cere cloth. It is the altar’s tablecloth.

Flagon:  A vessel to hold wine for the Eucharist.

Font: The basin where baptisms are performed.

Frontal: A full-length, colored hanging for the altar.

Girdle: A white cotton or linen rope worn about the waist over the alb. Black girdles are sometimes worn over the cassock.

Gospel Book: The book which contains all of the Gospel readings.

Gospel Side: The left side of the chancel as once faces the altar.

Hangings/Paraments: All of the colored silk items that decorate the sanctuary and chancel.

Host Wafer or Priest’s Host: The large wafer which is held up and broken by the celebrant at the Eucharist.

Hymn Board: The wooden board on the wall of a church which lists the day of the church season and the hymns for the day.

IHS: The first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek. Also the initial letters of “Jesus hominem salvator”, Latin for “Jesus the Savior of mankind”.

Intercession: the action of intervening on behalf of another, and/or the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person.

Jehovah: A name for God

Koinonia: The common life and fellowship of love shared by Christians with Christ and with each other in Christ. It is a Greek term for “communion” or “participation.”

Kyrie eleison: In the early church, in the east, the Greek supplication Kyrie eleison (“Lord, have mercy”) was the common response to intercessory biddings addressed to the people.

Laity: The people of God. Unordained.

Lectern: The podium from which the lessons are read.

Lector: someone who reads lessons in a church service.

Lectionary or Text Book: The book which contains all the Sunday Bible readings for the year. Texts change from Year A to Year B to Year C beginning with the first Sunday in Advent.

Liturgical Colors: The appropriate color for the day according to the church calendar. It is the color of the hangings and the color of the priest’s vestments. The calendar on the wall of the sacristy has the days printed in the appropriate color. The basic seasonal colors are:

Advent – Purple or Blue

Christmas – White

Epiphany – Green

Lent – Purple

Easter – White

Pentecost – Red

Trinity Sunday – White

Sundays After Pentecost – Green

Martyr: The term comes from the Greek word meaning “witness”.  It came to mean those who had witnessed to their faith in Jesus by their suffering and those who died during persecution since it meant witnessing to the greatest degree possible.

Missal Stand or Service Book Stand: The stand or desk upon which the altar service book rests.

Mitre: A liturgical headdress worn by bishops on formal occasions.

Oblations: The bread and wine brought to the altar at the offertory.

Oblation Table: A table which holds the bread and wine, the ‘oblations’, which are to be brought forward by members of the congregation during the offertory.

Offertory: The bringing of oblations and alms to the altar.

Office: A service of the church, other than Holy Eucharist, such as Morning or Evening Prayer.

Office Candles or Office Lights: The candles behind the altar on the retable next to the cross in the sanctuary. These candles, which are lit for all services, are often on three unbranched candle holders on each side of the cross. Some churches use three or seven branched candelabra.

Ordination: The conferring of Holy Orders by a bishop.

Pall: This word means ‘covering’. It refers to two quite different coverings:

  1. A pall is the small, linen covered square of Plexiglas which we use to cover the paten and host wafer on a vested chalice.
  2. The funeral pall is the large, embroidered silk covering which covers the casket for a funeral.

Paschal Candle: The large, decorated candle which is lit at the Easter Vigil and burns throughout the Easter season to Pentecost. The Paschal candle is also used at baptisms and funerals.

Paten: The silver plate from which the communion wafers are served.

Piscina: A drain in the sacristy which goes directly to the ground instead of into the sewer system. It is used for the disposal of consecrated elements: wine in chalices, bread crumbs on paten, and wine rinsed from purificators.

Priest: The second of the three orders of the priesthood; one who has been ordained by a bishop to administer the Sacraments of the Church.

Purificator: The small linen square which the priest or other minister uses to wipe the rim of the chalice; acts like a napkin.

Rector: A priest who is head of a parish.

Reserved Sacrament: Consecrated bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, that has not been distributed to communicants in a service of Holy Eucharist, and is kept in an aumbry or tabernacle. A small amount of consecrated bread and wine is often reserved for use by the priest and lay ministers in visitations, or for the sick, dying, or other similar circumstances.

Reredos:  Decorations behind or above the altar. The reredos is typically a wooden screen, hanging, or panel. It may consist of stone, wood, jeweled metalwork, or drapery. 

Rochet: A long white linen vestment with wide sleeves tied at the wrists, worn by a bishop under a chimere.

Sacristy: A room where preparations are made for the worship service.

Sanctuary: The space inside the altar rail.

Sanctuary Light: A light, usually a candle but not necessarily so, in the sanctuary that is constantly lit whenever there is reserve sacrament present in the aumbry or tabernacle.

Sanctus: From the Latin for “holy,” a hymn of adoration and praise which begins, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts.” It typically follows the preface in the Eucharistic prayer

Service/Altar Book: The large ‘prayer book’ from which the priest reads the service at the altar.

Silk Chalice Veil: A square covering of silk or brocade used to cover the chalice and paten before and after the Eucharist.

Stole: A long narrow band of silk worn over the shoulder(s) of the clergy at the Eucharist. It is worn over the alb, and usually matches the color of the hangings.

Surplice: A white vestment with full flowing sleeves. It is longer than a cotta and has a cross on the front. Worn with the stole, it is the standard clergy vesture for any of the church’s offices.

Theology: The term is derived from two Greek words meaning, respectively, “God” and “the study of” or “the knowledge of.” Christian thinkers became concerned with the rational, scientific analysis of Christian belief, especially with the kind of knowledge of God which derived from the study of the natural, created order. But it is also the study of the deeper meaning of the knowledge of God derived from contemplation of the mystery of God which lies beyond all human knowing.

Thurible: A censer. A vessel for burning incense; especially a covered incense burner swung on chains in a religious ceremony.

Tippet: A black scarf, wider than a stole, worn about the neck, with ends hanging down the front. It is worn by the clergy at choir offices. Usually the diocesan shield and the shield of the priest’s seminary are on the ends of the tippet.

Vested Chalice: The chalice, covered by a purificator, paten and host wafer, ready to be used by the priest. A priest’s host is not placed on the paten when the host is being presented from the oblation table.

Vestments: The special garments worn by the priest and other ministers of the service.

Verger: is a person, usually a layperson, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglcan churches. Sometimes known as Master of Ceremonies.

Wafer: The unleavened bread used at the Eucharist.

The Christian Calendar


Purple is the color of and Advent and Lent. It symbolizes penitence, sorrow, and also royalty

Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas Day. The Advent wreath has 3 purple candles, one rose  candle, and a large white candle in the center, the Christ candle. A candle is lighted on the first Sunday; on each following Sunday, an additional candle is lighted. The rose candle is lighted the third Sunday. The Christ candle is lighted on Christmas Eve. The Advent wreath is covered with greens signifying the Holy Spirit: ivy, laurel, cypress, rosemary, holly, fir, and mistletoe

Lent, includes 40 days, excluding Sundays which are often called little Easters. Lent extends from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve. Purple is used from Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday and the cross may be veiled in sheer purple.


White is the color of Christmas, Epiphany, The Baptism of our Lord, All Saints’ Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Easter, Transfiguration Day, Ascension Day, and Trinity Sunday. It symbolizes purity and new birth. Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve and continues through the twelve days of Christmas until Epiphany, on January 6. White is used for weddings, baptisms, funerals and special occasions. Easter begins with the Easter Vigil. The Paschal candle is placed in the sanctuary through Pentecost Sunday.


Green is the color of ordinary time, from Pentecost until Advent. Green symbolizes spring, life, growth in the Holy Spirit.


Red is indicative of the Holy Spirit and Martyrdom, the days of the martyred saints. Red is used for Holy Week and Pentecost (Whitsunday), Confirmation, Ordination, and Feast Days.  Holy Week includes Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. On Palm Sunday the color is changed to Red and remains Red through the Maundy Thursday service.


On Good Friday the cross is veiled in sheer black and the altar is bare.