Why do we have a procession and recession?
(And what are they, anyway?)
The beginning and end of the worship service are usually marked by the procession (entrance) and the recession (exit), during which worship leaders come into or leave the worship space. Usually, the cross, carried by the crucifer ("cross-bearer') goes first, followed by two acolytes (assistants) carrying torches. (Sometimes these assistants are called lucifers, which literally means "light-bearer." Many churches don't use this term because it can be a little confusing!) Following the cross and torches, there may be a book-bearer, followed by other worship assistants and the ministers. The procession often takes place while a hymn is sung or festive music is played.
During the procession and the recession, worshippers turn to face the cross, following it as it moves into and out of the worship space.
So why do we do it? First of all, it gives a clear signal of when the service opens and closes, and invites the congregation to physically participate in that opening and closing of the community experience. The cross symbolizes Jesus; the torches represent the Light that comes into the world in him. By following the cross into worship, we proclaim that it is Christ who brings us into the Church, and we symbolically enact our commitment to follow him. When we turn to follow the cross leaving the worship space, we proclaim that Christ leads us out from worship and sends us into the world for service.
You might notice that the baptismal font is located near the entrance/exit to the sanctuary, and the procession/recession begins and ends there (when we haven't moved the font to the front of the church for a baptism). This symbolizes that we enter the Church through baptism into Christ, and that our baptismal calling sends us out into the world, as followers of Jesus, after we have been strengthened in worship.