The question before us this morning was “Where do you most often encounter God in our worship at St. Augustines.” An appeal to personal experience. Where the rubber hits the road for you. Here’s what was said. Thank you all – please let me know if anything was missed, or post on Facebook.
- The Eucharist
- The general organization of worship
- Knowing the prayers from an early age (esp. BCP)
- Just walking in the building and feeling the presence of God
- The fact that if we were ever caught in cataclysmic crisis, we would be carried through by our liturgies
- The music (x2)
- The prayers of the people (x2)
- The moments immediately following communion
- The way that the Eucharist connects us to Christians all over the world
- The ritual of it that enables faith even in moments of distraction or with young children. (participation in the Eucharist)
- The children’s focus – back and forth conversation, concise teaching
- Eucharistic prayer #4
- The community that gathers and cares for each other
Also, here are a few notes on what I spoke about as a lead up to this question…
General Liturgical gifts
- The Church year – A pattern of melding the life of Christ with our own, experiencing it alongside our own “time”
- Use of old words re-spoken – scripture, psalm, early liturgical words. Not just remembering, but praying them anew.
- “Shapes/patterns” of worship – praying the psalms, hearing the word, making peace, the Eucharist. Drawn from Jewish tradition and Temple worship.
- Concrete expressions, traditions, and practices of faith: candles, table, physical movement, *bread and wine*. Wordless worship. Worship with our whole selves and senses.
- Lex orandi, lex credendi: “What we pray (is) what we believe”. The connection between our worship and belief. Goes both ways – our belief shaped by our worship, our worship shaped by our belief. Always in conversation.
Particular Anglican gifts that would be sorely missed within the Christian Church
- The history of common prayer. Held in our prayerbook (note: the BAS is not a new prayer book. The BCP holds a wider focus on the whole of our spiritual lives and Christian teaching). Common readings (lectionary), common rhythm of prayers for all people (not just religious professionals).
- Concern with beauty in worship (words, space, aesthetic)
- Interaction with spiritual practice: fasting, giving, etc. Drawn from the monastic tradition (daily office prayers, concern for inner life of prayer)
- Also, we are a people comfortable in tension (at least more than many others). This is seen in our approach to the scriptures (listening to OT, Psalm, NT in all their complexities), in theology, in church practice. We have a rich history of finding balance between polarities that is deeply needed in the church today. We don’t always do it well, but we have a better chance than many churches on account of our history to hold it together.
General Guiding points/questions in exploring worship for Anglicans
1) What does our worship say about God?
2) In what manner are we saying it? Let it be beautiful – the best we have to offer! (Note: don’t try to do you can’t do, ie. Cathedral-style worship in a small church) This is affected by size, the architecture, the gifts resident in the community.
3) Measure it against the cloud of witnesses. – Those in the history of faith, and those present today, in different denominations, in different countries. And in the future – what will the Christians of 100 years ahead think of what we did in our worship? We must have these witnesses in mind in all we do.
4) In the spirit of Thomas Cranmer, how might our worship get into the hands of the people to be shared in community, and of the community?
How our worship teaches us…
As we approach the Lent and Easter season our worship reminds us we are people of the resurrection.
It is our worship that will remind us that our God is the living God in Jesus who overcame death whose very spirit is shared and lives in us.
And so our worship reminds us all we do in this community and as individuals is to line up with that news.
We are people of the resurrection.
Where in our worship at St. A’s do you most often encounter God?