Worship

Services

Seasons of Worship

Season of Advent

The Christian year begins with Advent. The word Advent comes from the Latin advenire, which means “coming.” The season focuses on the coming of Jesus Christ in the past (as incarnate Son), in the present (as risen Lord), and in the future (as heavenly ruler). Thus we can say: “Christ has come, Christ is coming, Christ will come again.” Advent is a season of joyous and solemn expectation. The liturgical color is purple, symbolic of a spirit of preparation. Advent is commemorated at FBC in worship with the Advent wreath, a circle of evergreens with four-colored candles, one lit each Sunday in Advent, representing Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. There is a fifth, white candle in the center of the wreath, the Christ Candle. The white candle is lit on Christmas Eve to commemorate the coming of the Christ child.

Christmastide

Christmastide (also Christmas or the Christmas season) is also commonly known as the Twelve Days of Christmas. It tends to be defined (with slight variations) as the period from Christmas Eve to the evening of January 5, the day before Epiphany. This time is commemorated by joyous celebration of the Incarnation. The liturgical color is white, symbolizing the holiness of Christ.

Epiphany

The Season of Epiphany, from the Greek word, epiphaneia, meaning an appearance or “manifestation,” commemorates the various ways in which Jesus Christ has made God manifest through his mighty deeds and words. The season begins on the day of Epiphany, January 6, which commemorates the coming of the Magi to the young Jesus, and is followed the next Sunday commemorating the Baptism of Jesus. (FBC often holds a baptismal service on this day). The last Sunday of Epiphany (the number of weeks varies depending on the date of Easter for the year) is always devoted to the Transfiguration of the Lord. The liturgical color for the season is green, suggesting the renewal which comes through Christ’s ministry.

Season of Lent

Lent is the season in which we anticipate Jesus’ final trip to Jerusalem and the self-giving nature of love shown in his passion and death. The season begins with Ash Wednesday and extends for forty weekdays through Saturday of Holy Week. Sundays are excluded from Lent, being regarded as feast days in the midst of the forty-day fast. Because Lent is the most strongly penitential season of the year, the liturgical color is purple. The symbol of the crown of thorns represents the suffering of Christ, which reaches its apex during Holy Week.

Season of Pentecost

Having celebrated the “birthday of the church” through the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, we enter the long Season after Pentecost, also known as ordinary time (from ordinal, meaning counted time). This season celebrates the existence of the church and recalls her mission in the world. The season begins on Trinity Sunday as the church affirms her belief in a triune God—Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. It is a day in which we praise and worship the infinitely complex and unfathomable mystery of God’s being as Holy Trinity. Although the basic liturgical color for this part of the Christian Year is green, for Trinity Sunday the liturgical color is white, symbolizing God’s purity and perfection.

Special Services

Communion

First Baptist Church invites all believers to the communion table to partake in a meal with Christ. On the first Sunday of each month, FBC celebrates Holy Communion together. The liturgical color is white, to commemorate the purity and holiness of Christ. Additionally, services of communion are held in special services in smaller settings.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve is December 24, and in our worship service, we commemorate the birth of Jesus. The service, usually at 6:00 p.m., is a Candlelight Service in which the Christmas is celebrated with beautiful music and a meditation on the meaning of Christmas.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter. The Ash Wednesday service at FBC is held at 6:00 p.m. in the chapel. The ashes used are typically gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are burned. At this service, believers can receive ashes on their forehead or hand to symbolize their own mortality and the beginning of the fasting season of Lent.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the day we remember the “triumphal entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem, exactly one week before his resurrection. FBC joins with other city churches early on Palm Sunday for a service in the park adjacent to our building. We remember as a community that it was a town that welcomed Jesus together in the triumphal entry. Then, at our 11:00 a.m. service, we distribute palms to commemorate the festivities in Jerusalem on that day.

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Thursday before Easter). We share a meal and observe a special Communion devotional on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples.

Tenebrae Service

We remember Jesus’ self-giving act for our salvation through Tenebrae (Latin for shadows or darkness), a distinctive ceremony where the gradual extinguishing of the candles in the sanctuary occurs while the story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion is read.

Easter Sunday

The church’s most joyous celebration of the year emphasizes the last word in the Easter story: Jesus is risen! Jesus’ victory over death is good news for all.

Pentecost Sunday

We celebrate the Holy Spirit (symbolized as fire in Acts 2) being given to the believers, thus giving birth to the church. The liturgical color is red, and we celebrate corporately by wearing the colors of fire: red, orange, and yellow.

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is a day in which we praise and worship the infinitely complex and unfathomable mystery of God’s being as Holy Trinity. Although the basic liturgical color for this half of the Christian Year is green, for Trinity Sunday the liturgical color is white, symbolizing God’s purity and perfection.

All Saints Sunday

All Saints Day falls on November 1, but may be celebrated on the first Sunday in November in the Christian year. It is also known as All Hallows’ Day. The service of worship and Holy Communion reminds us of those for whom the battle is over, the victory won, and also of our continuing pilgrimage toward God and the heavenly banquet. To render thanks to God for the lives and deaths of the saints is to recognize the common bond between the church on earth and the church triumphant in God’s love. The liturgical color is white, signifying that it is Christ who lives in the saints.

Christ the King

Christ the King is both the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year, a transitional Sunday leading directly to Advent and the new Christian year. On Christ the King Sunday, worship stresses the continuity between the celebration of Christ’s sovereignty (kingship) and the expectation of Christ’s coming again in glory, which is anticipated in the Season of Advent.

Lay Reader Program

At First Baptist Church, we have a Lay Reader Program that encourages members of our congregation to assist in worship leadership by reading the two Scripture lessons each Sunday morning.

Each week our lay readers are given the Lectionary lessons, which they read at their leisure, in order to grasp the meaning and cadence of the text. During the week, they come to the Sanctuary and practice reading each lesson from the lectern to get the “feel” of the sound of their voices from the pulpit.

The benefits? It allows laity greater involvement in our worship. It gives clergy an opportunity to hear Scripture as the congregation does. It enables worshippers to connect faces they see regularly with names of readers. Finally, it conveys to our worship guests that Scripture and worship are not the private prerogatives of robed-clergy.

William Underwood provides leadership to our Lay Reader Program. If you would like additional information about the program, or if you would like to volunteer as a lay reader, please contact William or the church office.

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