The liturgy is a very ancient mode of worship employed by the earliest Christians and developed over time. Even after the changes of nearly two thousand years of use, however, all Christian liturgy is organized around two basic poles: the public reading of Scripture (the ‘Service of the Word’), and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in memory of his death and resurrection (the ‘Service of Holy Communion’). In both of these sacred acts, we worship God by opening ourselves to receive his gracious presence in our lives. At Christ Church Anglican, we use the liturgies of the Anglican Church of North America, which follow closely the Book of Common Prayer.
Some frequently asked questions about our worship:
How do I participate? Throughout the bulletin you will see parts for the “People.” That’s you, of course! The liturgy involves you in the worship of God. You are not a spectator but a participant. In fact, the literal meaning of the word liturgy is the work of the people. A helpful way to realize this in your own experience of the liturgy is to treat the entire service as one giant prayer to God. If you’re new to a liturgical way of worship, it may take a few times to catch on. That’s okay!
Why are the prayers scripted? Many of our prayers and collects (pronounced KAH-lects) are appointed to be prayed in common with thousands of other worship gatherings worldwide. Written prayers put our affirmations of God’s character together with our Scripture-based requests and hopes. They lend us words to pray when we have trouble articulating what is in our hearts. We pray them with the same sincerity and urgency as when we pray extemporaneously.
Why is the minister’s back to me? The minister’s role in the service is to facilitate the worship of God’s people, not to be the center of attention. His worship as well as that of the people is going in the same direction—up to God—and this is expressed symbolically by his facing the same way as everyone else. At Communion, he will face the people from the opposite side of the Lord’s Table as a symbol that we are all gathered together around a common meal, the Supper of the Lord.
Why is there so much singing? Music has a unique way of helping us express the deepest parts of ourselves. That’s why nearly every culture on earth uses singing to mark special moments. Our encounter with the living God in worship is the most profound of moments, so we cannot help but sing our praises to God!
What’s the Nicene Creed? Why does it refer to the “catholic” church? The Nicene Creed was composed by the leadership of the early church. They prayerfully studied Scripture and published this creed as a statement of the core beliefs of Christianity, and Christians have been affirming it ever since. In it we profess belief in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” The term “catholic” simply means universal, single, or worldwide.
Is the minister forgiving my sins? Is that right? No, that’s not our practice. Only God can forgive sin. And God charges his ministers with pronouncing the forgiveness that he eagerly extends through Christ Jesus. The Bible promises “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). That’s what the minister proclaims aloud to assure anyone who has confessed their sins that they are indeed forgiven by the one death and resurrection of Jesus.