Tag Archives: Church service

I am called… to lead worship

As a priest I will be leading the communal worship of my community most of the time. It is a double calling to be worshipper and leader of worship in order to transform all. Not only would I lead a service though, I would be responsible for setting the tone of the worship of the community for which I need to be a liturgist at the technical level as well pay attention to the life of the world in my community so that the worship can express the intensity of God’s interaction with the world.  Actually, I am a little overwhelmed by this. I don’t know very much about liturgy at all. I guess I will learn this at college…

I would tend to the worship of others as well as my own. In leading worship, my prayers will be an important source of information for others. I will have to walk the thin line of providing both the comfort of the familiar and the challenge of being out of one’s liturgical comfort zone which might well lead me out of my own comfort zone. It would be my responsibility to understand and apply the theology behind the liturgy used and to enable the understanding of others through it.This will be especially difficult since many people will just be sitting there, letting the words wash over tzhem without really listening to what is being said. As long as my expectations aren’t too high I should be fine!

Worship is a gift from God and I am called to share this gift with a specific community in a specific place at a specific point in time. This means that in order to make the community’s worship relevant, I will need to pay attention to the community I will serve, to the culture, newsworthy events and personal happenings. In my worship with this community I will have the chance to express the intensity of God’s interaction with the world. This will require me actually relating to my congregation. Oh bother! Me, the one with the odd music tastes, reading books that nobody else likes and being addicted to American TV Dramas! I will have to step things up a little… or possibly use my excentricities to good effect!

I have had some experience in leading worship, in a home group setting, reading in church, writing intercessions and praying with my Sunday school children. I found it both exhilarating and difficult. Leading worship means that there is a chance that I am the only one truly taking part in the worship. This can be both emotionally and spiritually exhausting. Isn’t there an easier way to meet people than sitting through a service being bored for more than an hour each Sunday? Porbably I am being very harsh. On the other hand, when there were others truly worshiping alongside me, leading them in prayer is meaningful and important. I have always felt that praying with others brings an additional level of immediacy to prayer and while I wouldn’t miss my personal praying time alone, prayer with others is also very important to me. Leading others in prayer regularly and having the chance to be a vessel of inspiration through God’s word is something I am very much looking forward to. And the children are the best!

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Book of Common Prayer follow up

Title page of the Prayer book of 1662, printed...

Title page of the Prayer book of 1662, printed by John Baskerville in 1762. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, today we had the service that followed the original BoCP and while it was very different, it was also really, really nice. The main difference was, as I thought before, that the order of the service was all jumbled up and yes, that was confusing at times. I thought it was rather interesting that all the ten commandments were recited at the beginning of the service and the archaic language was, of course, very beautiful. I liked that it was different and special. Here is what I didn’t like: During most of the service, the minister stood with the back to the congregation. She was, of course, meant to be facing God and this is the very traditional way of saying the mass in the Catholic church as well (today pretty much no-one does it that way anymore, though). For me, it felt weird, unknown and distancing. We discussed this after the service and a retired vicar that I will call Jonathan here (it is not his real name) made the good point that the priest is meant to be a member of the congregation, facing God and that the two times she actually faces the congregation for the absolution and the blessing, the fact, that she is speaking for God then is greatly emphasised. This is true, but I still prefer the other way.

Overall, I think I could get used to it and I certainly liked it for the celebration it was of tradition and the history of the Church of England and the BoCP. I also like that we don’t usually use archaic language more, though. It makes the connection to God we feel during worship less extraordinary and more as a part of our normal life and I think that is as it should be. After all, the writers of the BoCP decided to hold the services in English rather than Latin so everyone could relate to the service and understand what is being said.

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