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Abraham – Abraham’s life is described in Genesis 11 – 25 in the Old Testament. He answered the call of God who made a covenant with him. Abraham’s Faith was put to the test by God by being asked to sacrifice his Son, Isaac. When he showed that he was willing to do this God substituted Isaac for a Ram. Abraham is known as a Patriarch. This means ‘the father of a family or tribe.’ The Jewish, Christian and Muslim Faiths have common roots in Abraham, which means they all see in Abraham the beginnings of the Covenant (or promise) that God made with his people.

Absolution – the formal act of a priest announcing the forgiveness of sins by Christ. For the Ministry of Absolution see Confession and Reconciliation.

Acts of the Apostles – the fifth book of the New Testament, and the sequel to the Gospel according to Luke, written by the same author. It tells the story of the early church and the Apostles, beginning with the Ascension of Jesus and Pentecost

Advent – this is the first season of the Church’s year (or Liturgical Calendar). It’s the preparation for Christmas, and includes four Sundays. The colours and sounds of Advent reflect a joyful waiting and expectation for the coming of Jesus. It prepares for the celebration of Christ’s coming at Christmas, and also his Second Coming in glory.

Advent Wreath – a ring of evergreen with four candles representing the four Sundays of Advent. There is often a central white candle representing Christmas Day.

Alb – the white garment worn by priests and deacons at the Eucharist. It’s derived from the under-tunic that was common in the ancient Roman and Greek world and has been used in Christian worship from an early date. It was taken to symbolize purity.

Alleluia – an expression of praise used in the Old Testament, the New Testament and in Jewish and Christian worship. In the Church, it is not used during Lent -that is, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. Another version of the world is Hallelujah.

All Saints Day – a day when we celebrate all the saints of God, known and unknown. It is celebrated on November 1st. See also Saints.

All Souls Day - a day when we commemorate and remember all those who have died. It is kept on November 2nd.

Altar – the name used for the table of the Eucharist, made of stone or wood.

Amen – a Hebrew word meaning, ‘So be it’ and used at the end of prayers.

Andrew, St – an Apostle, and the brother of St Peter. He is the Patron Saint of Scotland.

Angels – from the Greek word meaning ‘messenger.’ Angels can be found in the Old and New Testament. They are heavenly or spiritual beings.

Angelus – a prayer remembering the Incarnation, when God became human in Jesus. It’s based on Scriptural words of or about Mary. It is recited three times a day at early morning, noon and evening. The name comes from the Latin of the first word of the opening sentence: ‘The Angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.’ It’s recitation is usually accompanied by eighteen rings of the church bell. For the full text of the Angelus click here.

Anglican - a member of a church of the Anglican Communion.

Anglican Communion – a family of churches who hold to the same beliefs as the Church of England and who look to the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Member churches of the Anglican Communion are often called Episcopalian.

Annunciation – the celebration of the news given to Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus and her obedient response to do whatever the Lord wants.

Anointing – the ceremonial use of oil is common to many religions. The Church has used it in many different ways. In the New Testament it is used as a form of healing combined with prayer (James 5:14). The Church also uses it for Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination, as well as for the consecration of churches, altars, bells, etc. The title ‘Christ’ comes from the word ‘The Anointed One’

Apostles – twelve of Jesus disciples whom he chose and commissioned for a special role. Apostle means someone who is ‘sent out.’

Apocrypha – there are many writings and books that the Church decided would not go into the Bible and these are called Apocryphal writings.

Apostles Creed – A statement of faith. It falls into three sections concerned with God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, corresponding to the three baptismal questions.

Apostolic – relating to the Apostles. It’s also a word used in the Nicene Creed to describe the Church. The Church is Apostolic because it has received its authority from God and teaching from Christ through the Apostles, and is sent (like the Apostles) out to carry on Christ’s mission to all people

Archdeaconry – the area of a diocese given to a priest known as an Archdeacon to supervise and care for the clergy and help with the running of the diocese in that area

Archbishop – a bishop whose has oversight of a province of a church. A province is made up of various diocese. In the Church of England there are two provinces – Canterbury and York. The Church in Wales is one province.

Archbishop of Wales – the bishop appointed from among the six diocesan bishops and whose jurisdiction covers the whole of the Province of the Church in Wales

Archbishop of Canterbury – the leader of the Anglican Communion and the primary bishop in the Church of England.

Archbishop of York – the bishop appointed to oversee the Province of York in the Church of England

Area Dean – see Dean

Ascension – after Jesus was raised from the dead he spent 50 Days with the Apostles and then returned to his Father. The story is told at the end of the Gospel according to Luke and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus took his disciples to the Mount of Olives and then disappeared from their sight. (Acts 1)

Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent when many Christians a receive ashes on their forehead in the sign of the cross as a mark or repentance.

Assumption of Mary - the belief fthat Mary, at her death, was taken body and soul into heaven.  It is a belief of the Roman Catholic Church.

Aumbry - a small recess in the wall of a church in which sacred vessels, books, and sometimes the reserved sacrament might be kept.