How We Worship
We follow the ancient liturgy of the church We chant the Kyrie, the Psalm and during Advent, Lent and Holy Week, the Gospel is also chanted. There’s also incense, readings from scripture, a sermon, prayers of the people, Eucharist, and a closing blessing (benediction). You’ll also see some of us making the sign of the cross and bowing during the Eucharist.
Most of our music is a cappella. The music is made by the community — with the exception of the 3 or 4 times a year that we have a bluegrass service, the liturgy is a capella. So, all the music you hear in liturgy comes from the bodies of those who showed up. We sing in four-part harmony and rehearse before liturgy at what we call Choral Guild (open to anyone who shows up at 4:20 before church). We sing this way because we’ve discovered that we can’t sing harmony alone. We need each other. We also sing the old hymns of the church. So there’s lots of ancient tradition at HFASS, but there’s also some innovation.
Open Space We always include poetry and a time called “Open Space” in which we slow down for prayer and other opportunities to actively engage the Gospel; writing in the community’s Book of Thanks, writing prayers, making art or assembling care kits for those experiencing homelessness in Denver.
We like to say that we are “anti-excellence/pro-participation” This means that the liturgy is led by the people who show up. The pastor offers the Eucharistic prayer and (most times) the sermon; all the other parts of the liturgy are led by people from where they are sitting.
We sit in the round When you show up to liturgy, you’ll notice that we set up chairs in circles around the altar. The Table is the center of our community because Jesus has promised to show up for us in the bread and wine. But we also worship this way so that we can see each other, because we are all icons of Christ and when we see each other, we are gazing into the face of our Lord.
We make the liturgy ourselves Though we follow the shape of the ancient liturgy, much of the words we use are either written or curated by the congregation. Several times a year, we hold what we call Liturgy Guild where we decide together all the elements of the liturgies of the upcoming season. Liturgy Guild is open to everyone in the community. Just show up! Also, when you show up on Sundays, we might ask you if you’d like a “job.” All that means is we are asking if you’d like to help lead the liturgy by reading a prayer, part of scripture or helping serve at Communion.
We believe in the Open Table At the beginning of every liturgy, you’ll hear the pastor say this: “Here at HFASS, we have an Open Table, which means that when it comes time for Communion, we invite everyone without exception to come forward to receive the bread and wine, which for us are the Body and Blood of Christ.” And we mean that. But if for your own reasons you choose not to receive Communion, you are welcome to come down with your arms crossed across your chest to receive a blessing instead. Nevertheless, even if it’s your first Sunday and you’ve never come for Communion before, you are welcome to receive.
We also believe in the Open Font Because we are an Open Table community, sometimes folks will ask us if we still believe in the power of baptism. (Because in many Christian churches, you cannot receive Communion until you have been baptized.) Here at HFASS, we have learned that by welcoming all to the table, many who are not yet baptized will be drawn deeper into Christ and choose baptism at a later time. If you’d like to talk about baptism with the pastor, reach out here. We hold baptisms at the Easter Vigil, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of All Saints, or any Sunday in the Church year outside Lent. We also hold an open “altar call” (or, “font call”) on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord in early January, where we invite all who wish to be baptized on the spot.