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Preparation for Sunday Service

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Component 1: Written Assignment (1,500 words)

List principal structural elements (the Ordo) of a main Sunday service such as you normally attend, stating briefly how you understand each element (or grouping of elements) contributes to the worship as a whole.  Indicate, with self-awareness, how you would yourself want to approach leading such a service.

  1. Introduction: Context

The service that will be discussed for this assignment was an 8.30am Eucharist Service using Order One from the Common Worship (CW) book and Eucharist Prayer E.  On this particular Sunday, there were 21 members in the congregation including the Priest.  There was a robed choir (4 members) and hymns were sung from Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New accompanied by an organ.  The whole congregation sat in the choir stalls in the Chancel.  Each member of the congregation followed the service in the CW book.

This church is situated in a village approximately 12 miles from Cambridge city centre with a population of 1,015.[1]  56% of this population would refer to themselves a Christians.  The largest age demographic in the parish is 16-65 years old.[2]

  1. Service Structure

The structure of the service followed the liturgy as prescribed in CW with the particular collects and prayers for the third Sunday of Lent.

2.1 The Gathering

  • The second greeting prayer
  • A hymn was sung
  • The prayer of preparation
  • A seasonal invitation to confession
  • Second confessional prayer
  • Absolution
  • Collect for the third Sunday of Lent

2.2 The Liturgy of the Word

  • Old Testament passage read by the Church Warden
  • New Testament passage read by a member of the congregation
  • Hymn
  • Congregation remain standing after the hymn for the Gospel Reading read by a member of the congregation
  • Sermon
  • The Creed - congregation stand and face the alter
  • Wedding Banns read by the Priest
  • Prayers of intercession led by a member of the congregation

2.3 Liturgy of the Sacrament

  • The Peace was shared with those around
  • Hymn was sung during the preparation of the table.  The collection was also taken at this point.
  • Eucharist prayer E was then used with the extended preface From Ash Wednesday until the Saturday after the Fourth Sunday of Lent
    • The whole of this prayer was said with people joining in the dialogue, Sanctus and Benedictus without needing to refer to the book.
  • The Lord's Prayer - traditional version
  • Breaking of the bread
  • The first prayer before the distribution said
  • Congregation go to the alter rail to receive communion - hosts and one chalice of wine
  • The second prayer after communion said

2.4 The Dismissal

  • A hymn was sung
  • Blessing for the third Sunday of Lent
  • The dismissal
  1. Contribution to Worship
    1. The Gathering

The Gathering to worship are important as they draw the congregation and president into relationship to a point to participate in the act of worshipping God.[3]

The Prayers of Penitence came within the gathering I personally prefer it to come in this section as you are able to come and ask for forgiveness and worship God knowing that you are forgiven and then celebrating God's goodness of forgiveness and grace.  In this service, there could be an argument that the Prayers of Penitence could come after the Bible readings and sermon.  The lectionary reading was about the woman at the well and if your sermon was a focus on forgiveness then the Prayers of Penitence could act as a response to the message received.

The collect is a prayer that links with the Sunday and not with the scripture readings.  This can add to the worship in a way that allows the congregation to focus on the season which God is currently working through.  It should also be a way of getting the congregation to contemplate how the season affects their spirituality.  With the collects, main aim to gather all of the prayers in the Gathering section into one and drawing ourselves closer to God and one another.[4]

  1. The Liturgy of the Word

The next two sections of the worship service, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament, need to be balance carefully because they both hold significant value of equal weighting.

A key element of this section of the worship service is hearing the Word of God through scripture.  My personal view is that we need to remember that worship is a two-way communication us with God but also God with us.  By following the lectionary we get a journey through scripture.  The sermon element of the Liturgy of the Word can take many different forms but ultimately should be an opportunity for the congregation to engage with Scripture as an individual and allow God to speak into their lives through it.[5]

The creed and prayers of intercession are an opportunity for the congregation to respond to the Word of God through prayer.  The act of worship in the time of prayer is an opportunity to give thanks and praise to God for what we have heard but also should be an opportunity to allow the Word to speak into the needs of the community by lifting them before God.[6]

  1. The Liturgy of the Sacrament

In the Liturgy of the Word Christ is heard; where as in the Liturgy of the Sacrament the elements are not only seen and touched but smelt and tasted.[7]  This act of worship is multisensory and can allow the congregant to worship God through more than just sight and sound.

Prayer E is a simple narrative style which is like that of Prayer D.  The images used in the prayer are more vivid and concrete than those used in other prayers.  This set of prayers also allows for extended prefaces for the various seasons.  The language used through the institution narrative and the extended prefaces allows for worship to take on a visual element using imagination.

The worship of receiving the bread and wine should encourage the congregant that through the Holy Spirit's power there is a strengthening.[8]

  1. The Dismissal

The blessing and the dismissal at the end of the service concludes the act of worship but should encourage the congregation to continue to worship God when leaving the church building.  By the Priest saying "Go in peace…" is about the act of carrying the presence of God out of church and into the world.  In the same way that we have been reconciled with God through our act of worship in church we should be helping the world to reconcile with God and with each other through living in peace with one another.[9]

Reflections

The flow of the service was good and allowed people to engage with the various elements.  The church was warm and welcoming which does allow people to feel comfortable within the act of worship.

The questions that I was left with about the service were:

  • Does the congregation understand what it meant for the Third Sunday of Lent and how this structured the worship?  And in turn how did this help, or not help, them to worship?
  • How much of the liturgy is just read but without a conscience response?  How do we engage our congregations to be active worshipers and not passively 'getting through to the end'?

I thought that the intercessory prayers, which were led by a member of the congregation, were very well structured.  They linked the Bible passage of the woman at the well, the sermon, and the needs of the community and world together.  They were led in a way that felt very much that they were being prayed with the congregation instead of just being prayed to the congregation who are merely observers in the act of prayer.  I asked the Vicar if there had been any training on the writing and delivery of the prayers for those who do them he said that there had been a short teaching session one evening on writing the prayers.

Conclusion: How would I lead?

Overall I felt that the service was well structured with a good mix of lay participation which I feel is an important aspect to worship as it allows all the congregation to participate and does not segregate the Priest making a 'them and us' feel to the community.

The significant adaptation I would make to the service would be the use of silence.  I felt that there was not enough time to reflect upon the various elements of worship before moving onto the next part.  The specific areas that I would include longer elements of silence would be:

  • After each of the Bible readings.  The first two readings went one straight after the other but it would have been good to have encouraged people to spend a minute contemplating the reading.
  • After the sermon.  For a similar reason for keeping silence after the Bible readings.  Having time to reflect on what the sermon was about and how you might want to act upon it in the week ahead.
  • After the congregation have received communion.  The organist played an appropriate piece of music while people were receiving and allowed people time to reflect during this time.  I felt that once the music had finished and before the post communion prayer a time of silence would have been beneficial.

Word count: 1537

 

Bibliography

Beach, Mark, Holy Communion (London: Church House Pub., 2000)

"Census Maps | Cambridgeshire Insight", Cambridgeshireinsight.Org.Uk, 2017 <http://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/census2011/census_maps> [accessed 19 March 2017]

Common Worship, 1st edn (London: Church House Pub., 2000)

Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New (Stowmarket, Suffolk: Kevin Mayhew, 2000)

Davison, Andrew, Why Sacraments?, 1st edn (London: SPCK, 2013)

De Lange, Anna, How To Engage With Scripture (Cambridge, U.K.: Grove Books, 2011)

"Go In Peace To Love And Serve The Lord - Meaning", Lords-Prayer-Words.Com, 2017 <http://www.lords-prayer-words.com/famous_prayers/go_in_peace.html> [accessed 20 March 2017]

"Parish Spotlight", 2017 <http://elydatabase.org/spotlight/140004.pdf> [accessed 19 March 2017]


[1] "Census Maps | Cambridgeshire Insight", Cambridgeshireinsight.Org.Uk, 2017

[2] "Parish Spotlight", 2017

[3] Mark Beach, Holy Communion, p.36

[4] Mark Beach, Holy Communion, p.41

[5] Anna De Lange, How To Engage With Scripture, p.5

[6] Mark Beach, Holy Communion, p.55

[7] Andrew Davison, Why Sacraments?, p.45

[8] Andrew Davidson, Why Sacraments?, p.44

[9] "Go In Peace To Love And Serve The Lord - Meaning", 2017


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