Monday, April 26, 2010

Contemporary Anglican Worship

A friend posed a question recently, in the context of a conference in which much had been said, both in plenary, group and private conversations about liturgical worship conforming more closely to a notion of common prayer. The question (in my words, should my friend be reading!) was: 'if our written prayer book liturgies are the 'standard' for Anglican worship, what does contemporary Anglican worship mean today?' ('Contemporary' meaning here, relevant, in-touch-with-post-modernity, flexible-to-wants-and-desires-of-local-faith-communities-in-which-not-all-gather-to-worship-according-to-the-prayer-books).

In this post I will not attempt a 'whole' answer, but offer a few reflections. Perhaps next week there will be more!

Contemporary Anglican Worship possibilities

(1) Has some familiar resemblance to the order of authorised written liturgies

(2) Within that familiar resemblance makes full use of all the flexibility that authorised written liturgies actually make available to the church (practical note: read the rubrics in small type, note the difference between 'may' and 'shall'!)

(3) Employs music to give full expression to 'contemporary'

(4) Works collaboratively: let me express a 'frustrated observation' ... across a number of parishes (over many years, I am not talking about my experience yesterday!!) ... 'contemporary Anglican worship' means many different things to different parishes ... what might it mean for contemporary Anglican worship to share common commitments to (e.g.) having a spoken "we" confession AND absolution, at least two readings from Scripture, always including the Lord's Prayer, always having intercessions, and always being ordered 'word' then 'sacrament' rather than some services reversing that order?

(5) Educates congregations in appropriate ways as to the 'whys' of each part of services. This could include the scriptural basis for the order and content of our worship services.


Anonymous said...

Can you enlarge on "two readings from scripture"

Barry Smithson

Peter Carrell said...

With pleasure, Barry!
(1) [In my experience] a number of services have become one reading-services; so 'at least two readings' would be an improvement (liturgically) but also a challenge for some services.
(2) If a service is non-eucharist then the usual Anglican prescription is two readings, one from the OT and one from the NT.
(3) If a service is eucharist then three readings are prescribed; one could say four readings if one includes the psalm ... but I think there is a discussion to be had here ... some lectionary readings are quite long, and some services have a lot of things to get through!
Hope that helps!