Sunday, September 1, 2013

Church worship

We have attended an Anglican church in Jacksonville the past few weeks. It is different from the Baptist churches we have served for many years in many ways but similar in some ways, too. This is what I like about it: there is a lot of Scripture, an Old Testament, an Epistle and the Gospel readings. A Psalm is used as a call to worship. Then, there is a sense of rehearsing the whole gospel every service. Through the confession, the assurance, the Nicene Creed, the prayers, the communion service, I feel washed over with the Gospel. Then, there are many people taking part, it is not a pastor centered service. The music is simple and powerful. In the early service we have been to there is a piano, guitar, and two vocalists, one who has played a flute. The music is lyric driven but the vocalists have powerful voices. There are many postures which help us worship. Most churches use standing, or sitting. I appreciate the opportunity to kneel on the benches provided at the pews and the invitation to come forward for communion and kneel at the altar. I have found I like the way we receive the "body" in our outstretched hands as the servers place the wafer there. (There is communion at every service.) The lectionary is used for the scripture readings and the sermon is based on them. That way a person can come to worship having already read the Word that will be read and taught. I have felt these past weeks a releasing of what I had been doing (pastoral ministry) and a renewed sense of "being" in worship. It has been emotional, both refreshing and I sense, renewing. For many years I have planned, led, worried, prodded, worried, pulled - and been near the center of much of what I perceived to be happening at worship (although how can we know what God is doing in worship?). I see there were not many times when I was able to worship - too much looking ahead to the next thing I had to do! I am sure the pastors of the church we are attending do that too, but I sense it is freeing to have the liturgy  provide the structure each week. Many of the words they use are repeated at each service (and why not, who can improve on them, ie, the Nicene Creed, for instance). I was talking to my wife about this today on the drive home ( I also like the 8:30 am service and the half hour drive each way to talk). She said, I think you have been a closet Anglican for a while. Maybe, she is right. The church we are attending seems a good fit for us partly because it is doing some of the things I have tried to do over the years as I studied the scripture and the history of worship. In a sense, this church is not doing anything new. Maybe that's what I like about it.