©Kirton News 2018
The View from the Vicarage
Many people ask me why the four Churches in our village worship in very different ways. At New Life Church the emphasis is on the written Word of God and very modern lively music with biblical preaching. In the Methodist Church there is an emphasis on simplicity of worship, bible preaching and rousing music, whereas in the Parish Church our format is somewhat different, yet very similar to the Romanian Orthodox Church that now uses the old cemetery chapel. Our style of worship includes all the key elements found in the other churches. We all worship the same God, we all read the same Bible, and we all acknowledge the same Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.
So, what makes the Parish Church and its worship more formal? We often refer to our services as Liturgy, and liturgy, which literally means “the work of the people” is the Church’s corporate worship, its common prayer for all.
Worship and prayer can happen wherever people are, at any time, and whether they are alone or with others. But Liturgy is the structured and shared worship that Christians engage in when they are together – as Jesus said, ‘where two or three are gathered in my name.’ Liturgy has very specific rhythms – key biblical themes like repentance, instruction, prayer, self-offering and thankful sharing –and these follow the shape of Jesus’ life and teaching.
The weekly remembrance of Jesus on Sunday – the day of his Resurrection – is set in the larger cycle of the liturgical seasons around Christmas and Easter. Year upon year, the journey through this calendar cycle can deepen our understanding of Christ and our calling as his disciples. And this calling is not only just for Sundays, but as the liturgical pattern of Daily Prayer reminds us, at morning and at evening every day – this is when you hear the Parish Church bell ring at 9am and 5pm.
However, we need to remember that liturgy is not simply utilitarian – it is not there just to “recharge our batteries” or to make us feel better, although it will often do this anyway. Liturgy at its very best is simply our common and very human response of praise and thanksgiving to all that God is doing for us through Jesus. It is well attested that over the last two thousand years, the Church and its liturgy has developed some very distinct forms of proclamation and response.
Liturgy for the Anglican Christian means the celebration of the sacraments – the signs and symbols, in ordinary things like bread and wine, of what God is doing in Christ. We believe that through his Holy Spirit, God is present and active in the sacraments. So, we dare to celebrate what God is doing in and with his People through Baptism by water, and that we are nurtured by him as we share in the bread and wine of Holy Communion (or the Eucharist), the Body and Blood of his Son, and of course much of this has a mystical and mysterious sense about it.
For us as we gather every week and every day, the real and most powerful work of the Liturgy expresses the rhythms of all human life and existence: things like rest and renewal, death and birth, sadness and joy. It can celebrated very simply or very elaborately, in speech or song, using traditional words or contemporary ones. It can take place in a church or in a different meeting place.
We know from experience that liturgy can help Christians to feel themselves part of a community linked across the world and through the centuries in worshipping God and gaining a renewed sense of themselves and their place in God’s world. So it is that we believe liturgy uses every part of us: our ears to hear, our voices to read and speak and sing, our bodies to stand, sit and kneel and to move to the altar for Communion, and even our sense of smell when we use incense at the great festivals. We pray with our bodies; through movement and song the power of God’s Word becomes part of us. That is why Liturgy changes things, it is transformative. We believe it is the power of God for bringing about the kingdom of God in our midst, yes even right here in Kirton.
We firmly believe that by participating in the liturgy, we’re doing more than just “attending a service.” We are entering an amazing story—a story in which we also play a role. We are the people who have indeed been gathered. We are the people who share in God’s very life. We are the people sent forth to proclaim God’s story and to invite other people into the grand story of our faith.
You are always welcome to dip your toe into the mystery of liturgical worship here at SS Peter & Paul in Kirton.
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