Occasional Services happen on special days. These are times set aside when the community gathers to honor a particular saint, or to remember a particular event, or to pray in a particular way. Rhythm and routine are hallmarks of a liturgical church such as Epiphany, and the steady, consistent way we worship creates an almost monastic sense of stability. This matters for a world that seems so inconsistent. And yet, occasionally, we break the routine of our worship and highlight a different way to praise God.
Whether it is the meditation through candlelight and ancient music that is Taizé, or the sublime beauty of the sung Evensong, or the drama of the holy seasons of Advent and Easter, the Occasional Services are rare treats worth celebrating.
WORSHIP IN THE STYLE OF TAIZÉ
Singing is one of the most essential elements of Taizé worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. The beauty of human voices united in song can give us a glimpse of “heaven’s joy on earth,” as Eastern Christians put it. As the words are sung many times over, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God. Taizé services are held several times a year and are led by Epiphany Choir.
Evensong is the sung form of the ancient office of Evening Prayer. The service emphasizes scripture and includes the traditional canticles of the Magnificat, the song the church remembers that Mary sang when the Angel Gabriel announced that she was to be the mother of Jesus, and the Nunc Dimittis, the song the church remembers that Simeon sang when he beheld Jesus being brought to the temple to be baptized. We gather for Evensong on the weekend closest to St. Valentine’s Day.
The week leading up to Easter is the most sacred time of the Christian year. Beginning with the Sunday of the Passion, or Palm Sunday, we worship every day, exploring the depth, meaning, and perspective of what God has done for the world through Jesus. The core of the week is the Triduum—the three-act play of Easter. Act One is Maundy Thursday. Act Two is Good Friday. Act Three is the Easter Vigil. The Triduum is Christ’s journey, and our journey is immeasurably enhanced, if not transformed, by following his footsteps.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS
Using John Peterson’s A Walk in Jerusalem as a guide, we join with Jesus in his Passion regularly during Lent. Offering a contemplative experience as we sit with icons of the Passion and walk with Jesus in our minds, this forty-five minute service features scripture, guided meditation, and prayers that apply the Passion narrative to today’s world. As a preparation for Holy Week, we occasionally offer a special, expanded Stations of the Cross.
LESSONS AND CAROLS
Since its early inception at King’s College, the service of Lessons and Carols has moved to the beginning of Advent as a worship experience that shifts the congregation into a place of waiting and listening. It sets the tone, if you will, for how we enter into, and celebrate, Advent. It is not a service of singing Christmas carols. Quite the contrary, it is a service to steady and sturdy our souls against the onslaught of secular culture’s desire to draw our hearts toward the ephemeral rather than the eternal. We seek something more. We yearn for something deeper, something more real. We seek a joy and peace—a peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace provoked and provided for by the Christ whose birth we anticipate. Lessons and Carols led by Epiphany Choir takes place on the 2nd Sunday of Advent. Congregational Lessons and Carols takes place the Sunday after Christmas.
In the rhythms of the liturgical cycle, Christmas Eve is the darkest, quietest night, where expectation is held as bated breath waiting for God’s incarnation. Christmas Eve at Epiphany also means the pageant, which is why we have two services on Christmas Eve: one to incorporate children into the Jesus story, and the other to intertwine beauty and mystery into a divine dance of anticipation. On Christmas Day, we gather for one celebratory Eucharist service in the morning.