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MrKris - "Other than some singing and Communion, I generally think most liturgy is simply 'showboating'."
PossMan - "MrKris (#3) As an outsider I thought liturgy was to do with the way public prayer and Communion was conducted. So when in the past I went to my local (Church of England) church for Morning Prayer, Evensong, or Mass the service followed a well-known path prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer. If I went to a church 20 parishes away it would be the same. I don't see how having this framework is 'showboating'."
MrKris - "Most liturgy goes FAR beyond simple public prayer and Communion."
Substituting the word "worship" in MrKris' comment, I find some room for agreement. "Showboating" definitely has a negative connotation, and it suggests worship which calls attention to itself, or to the leaders or participants. There's plenty of performance art pseudo-worship around which is like this, but I would claim that "non-liturgical" forms tend to be more susceptible to this. (I may be wrong)
In another dimension, what is worship other than "showboating" a bit for God? One way of defining worship is bringing our absolute best and "squandering" it on God. (Images of this dimension of worship in scripture? How about http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=32816741 -- Luke 7:36-50)
Agreed also that my sense of the word "Liturgy" extends far beyond what might happen in a service of corporate worship. If "liturgy" is "the work of the people," then it takes on a particular form in a Sunday service, but it pervades the rest of the life of the worshiping community.
I grew up in a tradition which would *shudder* at the use of the *scary* *Catholic* word "liturgy," but which nevertheless had a very particular order to their worship life. The knee-jerk reaction against reflecting at all on that order was a major stumbling block for me.
My experience in returning to the church was to find great comfort in the lattice that liturgical worship forms provided for heart, mind, and body. I experienced what I'll call "authentic" worship for the first time when the elements around me turned my attention from my own private experience first to the community gathered, then to the larger church catholic, and more and more reliably Godward.
That can't happen without some structure. The only question is, "what structure?"
And not all such structured liturgy is elaborate, and none of it requires opulent stuff. It does require forethought and agreement as to how things should be done, and attention to tradition helps avoid liturgy from being hijacked by someone with a highly individual style of doing things. We're worshiping as part of a universal tradition, not in a way that depends on one person.
Robotic and militaristic performance of liturgy makes a mockery of it; on the contrary, when liturgical leaders and congregations are at home in the liturgy, they act naturally and are drawn to worship more deeply.
My local parish has a fairly stable order for worship, but there is not a great deal of congregational engagement with why it is structured as it is, nor with how the "proper" portions of the service are chosen. I wonder if there are good examples of folks nearer our tradition (this church is PCUSA) have worked to make the "customary" more explicit.
I have kept an eye on the Seabury Customary, which I find very enlightening. Sadly, there are few other examples of such thoughtful engagement (at least given my web and print searches). Perhaps others can steer me to resources closer to the Presbyterian fold...
But in our church (a Salvation Army corps in Malmö, a town with some 250.000 inhabitants and less than 2.000 churchgoers, all counted, any given sunday), we have been blessed to welcome some new people to church - people who, in some cases, are not sure if they want to call themselves christians yet, and in any case are not very familiar to ANY style of worship yet.
We do not want to alienate these people, but rather invite them to participate on a level which feels "safe" but still meaningful to them.
What we did was setting a part one sunday per month, having this alternative service instead.
This autumn we focused on the Trinity, exploring one person at a time, through different artistic expressions.
The common element, for all three services, was a meditation of sorts, where we had drawn a triquetra on the floor and had an MP3-player with a psalm on the trinity, where one could dance in a walz-like manner, following the arches of the triquetra, thus giving worship in form of dance.
In another room the "main theme" has been laid out ("The Father", "The Son", "The Spirit") as different stations where people could read parts of scripture and take some sort of personal action, to illuminate what they feel. E.g. when we talked about the Father as the Creator of all things, we made stations inspired by the different days of Creation. When we read about God separating the water in the skies and the water on the earth, people were invited to have a drink of water, remind themselves that water is vital for all living things and to finally give their response by giving to a program of water distribution in Africa.
Anyway - we have had several different "stations", and people got invited to do them in any order they personally felt alright with.
The downside has been that the worship is not so much corporate, but the benefit is that we have had the opportunity to invite new people to church and worship who would not have been very comfortable with our ordinary way of doing stuff.
Wow, that sounds fantastic and very inviting to those that haven't a clue. Feeling comfortable is very important to worship. Liturgical services can be pretty daunting. How can you worship God when you spend most of your time trying to find what page you are on. On the other hand, once you get the hang of it, the liturgy will just *feel right* and add to your ability to worship.
I am returning to church after a 20 year absence. Previously I went to various United Methodist churches in the US. Now I am going to an Anglican church in Australia. From non-liturgical to liturgical.
As a teenager, I had no idea why we did what we did in church. I don't even remember the sermons as messages I took away with me for use during the week. But, I was always in the youth chior. Everything I learned about worship and faith came from singing it.
Now I have been pulled, rather yanked, back into the faith by a need from within. I started searching for a church that would meet my needs. I felt comfortable with the pastor (priest?) of the local anglican church and so I tried out the service. I can understand one of the previous comments (I can't find it now so I will paraphrase) that the liturgy is comforting to locals but can by offputting or frightening to outsiders.
The reason I stay at my current church is that the saturday night service that is very small and very informal. *Maybe* 12 people attend. We all sit in chairs in a circle with the pastor. Some of the young kids sit on the floor in the centre of the circle with christian coloring books. This service helps me become familiar with the liturgical service. While some folks attend this service because they have screaming babies or hyperactive kids. I attend because I can interupt with questions. Everyone seems eager to enlighten my ignorance. I couldn't do that in the more formal sunday sessions. I couldn't figure out why the pastor continued to saturday evening service when so few people attend. Now I know one reason why. Hooray for flexibility!
Perhaps someone can assist me.
I am new to liturgy and worship in liturgical churches. I am currently attending an Anglican church in Australia. I have the book of common prayer. I have heard of the book of common worship, the RCL (revised common lectionary), liturgy, etc. I can see the value of having prescribed worship as well as some possible drawbacks.
My problems are these:
In church I spend most of my time trying to find my place in the Australian BCP rather than focusing on worship. How do I get over this. Is there some form or pattern that I haven't discovered yet? Is there some way to study this stuff so I can focus on my worship rather than just reading the words?
How do I use these resources in my private worship at home?
What are the morning, evening, night prayers. They seem to be response type prayers. Can these be modified for personal use?
I'm a Lutheran American. For folks who haven't memorized the order of worship, flipping through the worship book surely has a dampening effect on their worship experience!! I grew up with the liturgy but even so, sometimes we use different settings, sometimes we use the full-communion version... so I do know what you mean.
My church wants to be welcoming to new folks in the pews who might have trouble following along, so we print out the order of worship every week. Some churches will just print out the page numbers for each part of the worship service, and some (like mine) will print out the whole service, word-for-word. We only use the worship book for the hymns. But the anti-tree-killers among us hate that we "waste" so much paper each week. (Actually we can re-use our bulletins for a number of weeks, since we print the time-sensitive material separately.)
You might want to meet with your pastor and explain your dilemma. Ask him/her if you could borrow a copy of the worship book to take home to study between Sundays. S/he could show you where different parts of the service are in the worship manual. You could put Post-its on the pages to mark each section, and worship using that book, so you can follow along more easily during the service. If you love this church and want to stay, you can buy your own copy and mark it up to your heart's content.
Your pastor would also be glad, I'm sure, to explain the use of the other orders of worship such as morning or evening prayer. In my church, we sometimes use morning prayer to open our morning Bible study, and we use evening prayer during our evening midweek services held during Advent and Lent. Night prayer (compline) we use on occasion, as a special treat. If you go on a retreat, they'd use it to worship just before bed.
You can surely use any part of the liturgy that speaks to you in your own home devotions! Just copy it and stick it in you own Bible! There's a closing prayer we use in our evening prayer (vespers) service that I say on my own all the time. The problem is that all these prayers, being meant to be said in corporate worship, will use "we" and "us" language, but you can surely change that to "I" and "me."
God bless your worship experiences.
Hello Sue, welcome to the Anglican church! I see from your profile you have a copy of A Prayer Book for Australia. There are a couple of editions in common use - a complete edition with a red cover, and a shorter/abridged version with a green cover. I've seen a few churches provide the congregation with copies of the shorter version during services. Other churches, including mine, don't provide a prayer book (concerns about theft, I think) but print parts of the service in the pew sheet.
APBA has three different orders (patterns) for the communion service. I think the second order is the most frequently used. This is the one with the most variation which can require a lot of flipping back and forth, so it's no wonder a newcomer will be confused. If your church does use the second order, you might find it helpful to browse through it to familiarise yourself with the general pattern.
'Is there some way to study this stuff so I can focus on my worship rather than just reading the words?'
I think in a liturgical church you do have to accept that at the beginning, you are learning a lot of new practices, but after some time (weeks? months? years? it varies) you will find that you know the words and actions well enough that you can focus more on their meaning. At least, that's what I found.
The morning, evening and night prayers originated in the tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours. The seven or eight hours of the Catholic tradition were reduced to two in the Church of England BCP - morning prayer (sometimes called Matins) and evening prayer (sometimes called Evensong). An order for night prayer (sometimes called Compline) appears in various Anglican prayer books including APBA. These services are principally for communal worship and some parishes offer morning or evening prayer during the week. I don't think they work as well for individual use, but there is nothing stopping you from using some of the prayers in a way that suits you.
Hi Cici and Claudine,
Thank you both for you input. Cici I took your advise and ordered my own copy of the Prayer Book for Australia. Now I can take my time to review the Prayer Book and mark it up as much as I wish. I also discovered that my paster is one of the editors of the prayer book! So I am sure she will be be willing to explain things to me.
Claudine, boy you were quick. I took advantage of the after Christmas sales and ordered the complete edition of the Prayer Book (red cover) in paperback. It just arrived in the mail today and I immediately added it to my LibraryThing library (as you do). Thanks for explaining about the orders and the morning, evening and night prayers. And for the reminder that all new things take time to learn. I look forward to when I can fully join the community in worship.
I suppose my first step should be to become familiar with the communion service. When I feel more comfortable in the public worship environment of the communion service (our normal sunday service) I can then pick up the rest at my leisure ... I think.
Again, thank you both.
You're welcome, Sue. Take your time and find your own pace. The Saturday evening service sounds like a good place to start. It's good that you're allowed to ask questions there!
(The priest at my church was also on the prayer book committee and I have a little game of trying to guess which bits he wrote. :-) )
"I look forward to when I can fully join the community in worship."
But you have already... worship comes from the heart. God cares not one whit whether you fumble the words. (nor should your fellow worshippers in the pew)
But you knew that, Sue! :)
Thanks so much, everyone. This will keep me busy for a while.... That Canadian site was amazing, http://www.worship.ca as was this
One link I might offer would be this one:
This is Glenn Gunhouse's page and it is just a wonderful resource, including a calendar of saints days, a side-by-side translation of the psalter and information regarding Medieval art.
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