Monday, January 25, 2010

Standard liturgy

In theory one ought to be able to go to an Anglican parish in these islands for a service advertised as 'formal liturgy' or 'traditional communion' or 'communion (NZPB)' and expect to be able to follow the service without surprises because it will be one of the three main services provided in NZPB. In practice the service could be advertised as "NZPB" and be informal in various ways, because the flexible option on Page 511 is being exercised. But even when one of the three main services is followed, all sorts of variations are possible. One can go into a new church, pick up a locally produced communion booklet and find that this prayer is different to that set down in NZPB and that set of versicles and responses is taken from ... well, one might not be sure without looking up on Google!

Here are some questions which may stir up some thinking in our minds:

How often does our congregation follow an NZPB service by the book, i.e. have (what I call) a 'standard liturgy'?

Is it uniformly, mostly, sometimes, or rarely?

Why? That is,

(1) is the pattern in our parish driven (ultimately) by the vicar, liturgy committee, perceived expectations of the congregation?

(2) is the pattern followed a matter of informed choice or laziness/lack of time and energy or (even) ignorance? 'Ignorance' here being about our understanding of the requirements of 'authorized worship', the canonically permissible diversity of worship, and the need to 'connect' well with people through the way we worship.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christ the beginning and end of our worship

A challenge for Anglicans (and Catholics and orthodox and ...) worshipping via prayer book services is to lead-and-participate in such a manner that Christ is the beginning, centre, and end of our worship. What is the eucharist but obedience to Chrst's command to 'do this in remembrance'? Why do we gather together rather than (say) worship individually in the privacy of our own homes? We do so to give real expression to the body of Christ on earth, emboldened by the promise that where two or three gather in Christ's name he will be in our midst. Why is the Gospel read and preached in the course of the service? So that, like the disciples of old, we can sit at the feet of Jesus to learn from him. Why is the Lord's Prayer obligatory? Again, it is an obedience to Christ's own command (see Luke 11, 'when you pray, say').

You get the drift!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Are you a dull preacher?

By Michael Kellahan writing on Sydney Anglicans.Net

"1. Talk longer than people listen

2. Read from full script

3. Don’t speak to the world of those who listen

4. Don’t aim for transformation of self and hearers by the renewing of your mind

5. Steal from the Piper/Driscoll/Carson/Keller mp3 on the passage

6. Start your prep on Friday

7. Don’t listen (let alone watch) yourself afterwards because ‘you don’t like the sound of your own voice when its recorded’

8. Don’t ask people to open their bibles or refer them to the text

9. Work hard on making your illustrations the most engaging part of the sermon

10. Insert “Application = go & evangelize more OR feel guilty about ‘X’ “."

Read the original post plus comments to extend the list!!

Preaching is an opportunity from God to speak God's Word for today. A sermon should never ever be dull. Sadly many are. Let's lift our game!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The objectivity of liturgy

Do I want to hear what the worship leader is thinking about life, God, what I ought to do, think, or feel as a worshiper? Not really, thank you very much!! The more the worship leader speaks extempore the more subjectivity enters into the act of congregational worship. Using the prayer book liturgy of the church offers the blessing of objectivity: words, an order of words, occasions for silence, handed down through the ages to new generations of worshipers. As a worshiper I am not subject to the whims of the leader but am directed to engage with the liturgical wisdom of the ages gifted to me, to us the congregation. As I grow older I have less appreciation of subjectivity, and greater satisfaction through the objectivity of liturgy.