Christian worship

Christian worship is generally ‘congregational’. It developed out of Jewish worship practice which had been congregational for centuries. Alongside this, Jesus’ saying in Matthew 18:20, (“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”) suggests a pattern for corporate worship. Sunday is also the traditional day of gathered worship for Christians. This is in remembrance that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday. It is also likely that Sunday took great importance in the early church in order to distinguish it from the Jewish practice of worship on the Sabbath (Friday evening/Saturday).

Traditional Anglican or Church of England practice is to have two or three services on a Sunday. These were Morning Prayer, Matins and Evensong. These services included prayers, hymns, readings from the Bible, Collects and a sermon. In recent years, Matins has often been replaced by a ‘Eucharistic’ form of service. In these services, the priest leads a form of worship based on the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples, which Roman Catholics call Mass, the Orthodox call the Liturgy, and non-conformists call the Lord’s Supper. Here, bread and wine is blessed and distributed, although usually only confirmed members of the church are allowed to receive this. These services normally start at about 10am on a Sunday and last about an hour in total.

Non-conformist services tend to be based on the ‘Word’ rather than on communion and so the place of the Bible and the preaching of the minister takes greater significance. Hymns, anthems and popular music are often more central but traditional practices like reading scripture also take place. Pentecostal churches particularly engage in a more emotive form of worship, bringing the holy spirit to the church congregation. People might feel forgiven, healed or uplifted by the experience.

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