From The Rev. Chuck Jones

We will use incense this Sunday at the 11:00 am Eucharist

Why do we use incense?

Whenever I’ve heard someone explain the use of incense in worship, I invariably hear one of the following statements:

Incense symbolizes our prayers rising to heaven.

Incense is fragrant and engages our sense of smell in worship.

Incense was used in ancient times to mask bad odors!!

While all of these contain some element of truth (although, we’re not entirely sure about what happened in “ancient times”), they all miss the main reason why we use incense in worship – We offer incense to glorify God.

The rising smoke fills the air with something beautiful in the same way that our voices fill the air when we sing.  They are both ways in which God’s Chosen People have sought to honor and worship our Creator from earliest biblical times.

From Exodus when Aaron was instructed to build an altar of incense in front of the Ark of the Covenant, to Revelation when an angel stands before the throne of God offering “a great quantity of incense”, the use of incense to glorify God is written about throughout scripture.

The incense we use at the Cathedral is rock incense that doesn’t have dust in it and therefore is a much ‘cleaner’ burn.  Also, our thurible (aka, censer) has been thoroughly scrubbed to make sure there is no left-over debris. The smoke, therefore, rises quickly and does not settle in a ‘cloud’ near the floor.

Some people who are sensitive to incense have found that an alternate place to sit away from where incense is used, sipping water and even wearing a mask, are ways to remain in worship and not be overwhelmed by a reaction.  Below, you will find when we plan to use incense and, in the future, we will explore the possibility of using non-allergenic incense.

Incense will be used at the Eucharist (11:00 am) on festival days throughout the liturgical year.  These days are:

  • All Saints Day (11/3)
  • Christ the King (11/24)
  • Christmas Eve (12/24)
  • Sundays leading up to Epiphany
  • Epiphany Sunday (1/5/2020)
  • The Baptism of Our Lord (1/12/2020)
  • Celebration of New Ministry – Dean’s Installation (1/18/2020)
  • Confirmation Sunday (1/19/2020
  • Easter Vigil (4/11/2020)
  • Easter Sunday (4/12/2020)
  • Sundays leading up to Pentecost
  • Pentecost (5/31/2020)