Expression & Worship
Christian worship is ‘congregational’. It developed out of Jewish worship practice which had been congregational for centuries. Alongside this, by suggesting in Matthew 18:20, (For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.) Jesus lays down a pattern for corporate worship. Sunday is also the traditional day of corporate worship for Christians. This is a remembrance that Jesus is believed by Christians to have risen 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 Jewish practice of worship on the Sabbath (Friday evening/Saturday).
Traditional Anglican or Church of England practice was 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 In recent years, Matins has often been replaced by a ‘Eucharistic’ form of service.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 often called a sacramental service, which Roman Catholics call Mass, the Orthodox call it the Liturgy, Anglicans call it the Eucharist, and non-conformists call it the Lord’s Supper. Here, bread and wine is blessed and the congregation participate. These services normally start 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 the sacrament and so the place of the Bible and the preaching of the minister takes greater place. Hymns, anthems and popular music are often more central.
Worship is an act of devotion to God. It can be expressed through prayer, music, song, quiet and contemplation, even service. Worship recognizes that God can be communicated with and that he will respond accordingly. Institutional and congregational worship is normally associated with a church where worship is part of the learning process of the community of faith. Through activity, support and shared experiences in worship, a member of the Christian faith gains in understanding of their faith. Christians also pray alone and Jesus’ injunction about prayer, ‘But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:6) suggests that individual prayer is a very important complement to congregational worship.