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Anglican Worship & The Liturgy

Epping Anglicans
Parish of Saint Alban's, Epping, with Saint Aidan's, West Epping, NSW, Australia.


Anglican Worship & The Liturgy
This paper is based upon the text “What is Episcopal Worship About?” by Corinne Ware, D.Min.

This paper is for two kinds of people. First, it is for newcomers from other denominations who are interested in Anglican worship but cannot figure out what we are doing half the time. It is
also for “cradle Anglicans” who have discovered that often during the worship service they have gone into “automatic pilot.” You may have worshipped in an Anglican church one or two
times, or you could have attended for many years, but nobody ever really explained to you what some of the most familiar things mean.

Every church intends that its liturgical acts will have meaning for the worshipper. What does it mean that we read our prayers? What is a “collect?” What do the candles mean, and which
comes first, Epiphany or Lent? The more you know, the more meaning the activities and actions will have for you. Then perhaps the liturgy will begin to speak to you in a new and deeper

In this series there are twelve topics discussed in all. Enter each aspect of worship as it is brought to your attention. I hope that you maybe unable to say, “I just didn’t get anything out of the
service today.” You may find that there are unexplained riches hidden within the framework of the liturgy, riches that reveal themselves at many levels, unfolding in new and vital ways that
deepen your spiritual life.
“What is Anglican Worship About?”

“The Prayer Book“

“The Sacrament of Baptism“

“The Church Year“

“The Lessons“

“Kneeling, Sitting, and Standing“

“Signing the Cross“

“Vestments, Candles, and Incense“

“What is the Eucharist?”

“Collects and Prayers“

“The Eucharistic Words and Actions“

“What Are We Doing in the Liturgy?“

“What is Anglican Worship About?”
The word liturgy means the prescribed form for a public religious service, that is, the ritual patterns that a church uses. It comes from the word “work” so liturgy is the work of the people
when they gather. The texts for the liturgical work done by our Anglican Church are found in a book called “A Prayer Book for Australia”. Its roots are in the Church of England but the
prayers go back much further to the beginnings of Christianity. We use Scripture from the Bible as part of every worship service. As you read it, you will find services and prayers for every
sort of occasion.

Many congregations have a pattern of worship that is less formal and more spontaneous. If you have been in such a service, you may have appreciated and enjoyed the freedom and
spiritual quality of this less structured form of corporate worship. The traditional Anglican liturgy, on the other hand, is more structured. It provides the worshipper with a link to the great
prayers of the past; prayed by thousands of believers who came before us, and written in a literary style that calls forth our highest feelings. It also enables the worshipper to use his or her
body in a worshipful way. This is done through kneeling, bowing, making the sign of the cross, eating, drinking, standing, speaking together, and carrying the light of candles and Scripture in
procession to the altar. Liturgy has the power to bring us to a place where we can hear God in the depth of our being.

The Anglican service has two main parts: the Service of the Word and the Holy Eucharist. The service of the Word focuses on Bible readings and comments about those readings. The
second part, the Holy Eucharist, is the central event in Anglican worship. Think of it as a meal to which you have been invited. Do not worry if your mind strays from time to time. The pattern
for the service will “pick you up” in a few moments. The liturgy is there to “hold” you while you rest in God, and respond to God. Enjoy!

“The Prayer Book”
How can you tell it is an Anglican Church? If they are using “The Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book, or A Prayer Book for Australia”, it is! There is no other feature that so
marks Anglican worship as does these remarkable books of services, prayers, and Scripture. The word “amnesia” means to forget. The authorised books of Common Prayer are an
“anamnesis,” that is, a remembering. The Christian message will be faithfully remembered and preserved, so long as they are used in services of private and public worship. Through the
years, the Book of Common Prayer has been revised in order to be flexible to changing language and culture, but the core message it contains has remained consistently intact.

Why is so lovely and literary a collection of prayers and Scripture called “common?” The word common was once used to mean “regular, or in cycles.” “Common” also means that everybody
does something together, or in common. The book we use in the Parish of Epping is designed for the regular, week-to-week services and events of a worshipping community. It may be
used for personal devotion, and often is in the form of the Daily Office, but its chief use is for all the people when they are gathered together for worshipping.

The “A Prayer Book for Australia” continues to speak to us about the changeless, however it does so in the changing local language adapted to our time and place. The formation of “A
Prayer Book for Australia” is the story of our own history as a church. It is also the expression of a type of spirituality that is down-to-earth, inclusive of others, and deeply responsive to the

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These are actually not “lessons. such as January 6. Epping. but also by engaging in physical participation. of course. This begins in spring with Advent. a passage from the Gospels (Matthew. We do so by listening. there is the Feast of Epiphany. The Bible sees persons as whole beings: body. you will hear and live out the story of Jesus’ life. The Hebrews disagreed. Water is for cleansing. Others pour water over the candidate’s head. We will not become stuck on a small number of topics.Anglican Worship & The Liturgy http://www. When we hear.eppinganglicans. If you pay close attention to the Scriptures assigned to each celebration. An Anglican worship service acknowledges this by making ways for worshippers to express devotion. and Standing” The Greeks taught that we could and should separate the spirit from the body in order to achieve holiness. If the “A Prayer Book for Australia” (Page 464). This custom of reading Scripture passages comes to us from the early Christians who used as their pattern the services of the Jewish. or remember those persons who stood by you at the time. The third from the Epistles (The New Testament letters). Contact Thoughts for Prayer & Reflection “The Sacrament of Baptism” ph: 02 9876 3362 Produced by the Pastoral Care Committee of the office hours: 9:00am A sacrament . schedules that provided systematic patterns for the readings.” that is. We will take the Eucharistic meal many times. and we rise to stand as it is read. “The Church Year” Church time and the world’s time are different. Anglicans may do both (APBA Page 82). COPYRIGHT © 2017 REDJAYSTUDIOS · DESIGNED BY RED JAY STUDIOS In an Anglican church building. Holymonth. We are also reminded of the way on which we ourselves use water to clean away the dirt TOPwe so that OFare PAGErefreshed and renewed. a season during which we wait. and in this way we become a part of Jesus’ life. and a profusion of flowers in the sanctuary and the rest of the church. On the Sunday before Easter. and Scripture reading. but the truth is that both ways have advantages. but we are baptised only once. Sorrow and sympathy mark the days of Holy Week. 1995.1:00pm is an outward AnglicanParish way in which we show what is happening of St ItAlban to us inwardly. and greetings. Maundy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist. in which all baptised persons are invited to dip their fingers and to make the sign of the cross to remind them of their baptism. we will notice that the selections have a common theme. as they added readings from the Christian writings to those from Hebrew Scripture. but when the Gospel is introduced there is a procession to honour it. Both methods use water. Water recalls the Hebrew Scripture accounts of the Flood and the passage through the Red Sea. All of these movements allow us to express many things that words alone not convey. holy days. the beginning of Lent. “The Lord be with you. they began to make what they called “lectionaries. The church year is a way in which we also learn to live our own lives. or in our case early on the morning of Easter Day. Standing enables us to show honour and give dignity to that for which we stand. that is. “and also with you. but we also speak in unison as a response to the prayers. and the last. On that one occasion we “put on Christ” and become a part of the community that is also “in Christ. Learning to follow church time will take us through the history of our own faith story.” as we use the word today.’ Anglicans can note the sheer amount of Scripture used within a single service. Gradually. and days of particular observance. The Paschal cycle begins with the season of Lent during which we prepare ourselves for the coming events of Jesus’ passion.. month to month.. 1995. Most often. “The Lessons” The Scripture passages read in the early part of the worship service are called “The Lessons. you can find out more about what the Anglican Church says about the two Baptism is the doorway into the Christian community. song. Sitting prepares us to listen with attention. Feast of the Epiphany. The gift of the Holy Spirit is remembered during Pentecost the season that follows Easter. The most important celebration in the church year is Easter Day. we will learn a lesson.” We are able to show our reverence by either bowing or kneeling at those times we feel are especially sacred moments. Each group will point to their way as being best. Speaking gives the congregation a voice and engages the worshipper in prayers. After Christmas. If we pay close attention. or using fixed. Mark. Kneeling evokes a quiet. Over a period. The name given to the days between that Palm Sunday and including Holy Saturday are called Holy Week. Think of your baptism as signing adoption papers so that you become the permanent member of a fa baptised. or John). The church has its own calendar that is tied to events reported in the life of Jesus and in the life of the church. Each time you pass it and enter the community of worship you can be reminded of your own entrance into the Christian church. Each time you see a person becoming a member of the community of faith through their baptism you can recall your own. and we often observe the washing of feet at this Jesus to celebrate them regularly. reverent humility. BaptismRead More and the Holy Eucharist. (On page 817 of “A Prayer Book for Australia.” we reply. We smell the incense and take 2 of 4 24/12/17. This moment can be for us an entry into the experience of worship We are fortunate to be able to participate so much in worship. a spontaneous selection.. “Kneeling. Morning and Evening Prayer. one often sees a pedestal called a “font” placed close to the front entrance of the sanctuary. The Paschal cycle is preceded by the Incarnation cycle. The Epiphany season is from January 6th until Ash Wednesday.” The first selection will be from the Old Testament. or had you noticed? Most authors of books will sign the Preface with a name and a date. but it is more than simply a drama. This time however. 15:34 . Sprinkled throughout these two great cycles of the church year are many feast days. the sermon will expand on the theme. Holy Saturday services are followed by the Great Vigil. with Easter morning being the joyous time of resurrection. We share in Jesus’ death and resurrection and we have God’s spirit active in dramatise our acceptance of Jesus Christ. The writer of religious books may sign the Preface with the same dates. When others boast that they are ‘Bible Churches. alongside that of one who serves as our ideal model. you will see that the Sunday Scripture selections are arranged in three year cycles. a service can reflect the immediate interests of minister and people. The question often arises as to which is better. In the free selection of Scripture. but are Scripture selections from which. we observe Passion (Palm) Sunday and remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is a wonderful thing to do it all together. not only by Baptism has a way of changing us so that we become more fully God’s peop Some groups immerse. plunge the candidate underneath water. which means “showing forth” the gospel meant for the whole world. celebration. There is a two-year cycle for the daily office. affirmations. just as we regularly eat other meals. The Anglican sermon has some flexibility in being able to comment on any theme found within the selected passages. We sit to hear the lessons. we anticipate Jesus’ birth that we celebrate on Christmas day. we too are baptised. Luke. Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion. psalms. we will hear all of God’s word in its full richness and disturbing diversity. as one person. is a drama The that following acts out theprayers story of what cannot be easily described (Tuesday to of sacraments Friday) are suggested the Church. pre-selected readings. it is hoped. but it will and soul. They are call Dominical because w office@eppinganglicans. mind.. A lectionary has the advantage of discipline and direction. Different feelings accompany different postures and actions. the two most important are the Dominical for this Sacraments.” In some Churches there is a stoop filled with water. held late in the evening. The second from the Psalms this are either said as poetry-prayer or sung by the people. such as the receiving of the Eucharist or praying in silence. An enormous amount of biblical text is read and heard over this period.

as the Quakers do. you may believe that just the symbolic reminder of Jesus’ life and death is the thing that makes for transformation. First. Today we think of the thing that is sensed as being made holy to God. Some believe that the bread and wine actually becomes Christ’s body in a mystical way. Others sign when prayers concerning the faithful departed are said. and heart when the Gospel is read. and the important thing to notice is the gospel. and from you no secrets are that all of these interpretations have in common. The candle-led processional indicates that a solemn service of worship has begun or has ended. Churches typically choose to use words in two ways.” We make several associations with the lighting of candles.. Most praying in an Anglican service is characterised by prescribed. Second. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving. or with words. they underline the solemn importance of our religious feelings during the moment of worship. They say to us. the person you see everyday. First. prayer is possible. It allowed Christians to communicate their faith without speaking. we give thanks for Jesus’ sacrifice. and it closes with naming Jesus and describing God’s glory (a doxology). “What is the Eucharist?” While Baptism is the initiation of a Christian into Christ and the church community. everyone can say the prayer together. Later. There are probably as many beliefs about the bread and wine as there are communicants at the altar. When we say the lovely Ash Wednesday prayer written by Thomas Cranmer in 1549. It is usual for the Western church to make the cross-stroke from left to right. but as a sign of our devotion to the person of Christ. in the mystery of a particular moment. “Signing the Cross” There are several “kinds” of Anglicans. In the Eastern church the gesture is from the right to left. or when Eucharist is taken.” If you were confirmed as an adult. The change has to do with our becoming more like Jesus in his life and in his love for God. You may be among those who feel transformation to be almost physical. returning to the centre. and second.” it does actually mean to collect. not as a mark of our church politics. or of Jesus or his resurrection. lips. The priest’s robes and other special clothing are called “vestments. “Vestments. the sign was drawn upon the forehead by the thumb of the right hand. as you take the food into your own body. The use of incense has roots in Judaism as well as in other Mediterranean cultures. Often signing the cross became to be a sign of recognition. Each kind of praying has an important place. I am the gospel reader. and later as a liturgical blessing of persons and things.Anglican Worship & The Liturgy http://www. Eucharist is the nurturing of that Christ as a person remains within the church community and grows toward God. Did you wear a black robe when you graduated? Vestments have two main purposes. John calls Jesus “the light of the world” in his gospel. people started making the sign of the cross on themselves by drawing the right hand from the forehead to breast. and the differences were once of much greater importance than they are today. and this is especially true of the prayers we say from “A Prayer Book for Australia”. people have worn special clothing for formal and public ceremonies. It is no wonder that such a gesture would be constant encouragement to those whose faith made their lives uncertain. and then from shoulder to shoulder. and why use incense? When one worships in a church that stresses liturgy and sacrament the symbols have an important meaning which we need to understand. and as you taste the wine. In this moment.” Throughout history. or to sum up the prayers of all the individuals who have come to worship. The sign was also used in Baptism and in Confirmation. it asks for something from God. quieten yourself inwardly and focus your thoughts on becoming ready for what is to come. and darkness with confusion and ignorance. we know how a flame can focus our full attention. We even open and close our eyes as ways of including or of silencing our thoughts as we focus on the activity that surrounds us. written prayers read from “A Prayer Book for Australia”. “…to you all hearts are open. When we pray extemporaneously. It is said that our praying shapes our believing. Is this Jesus a person whom you would like to incorporate into your own self? “Collects and Prayers” In many different ways. “I am not Jane or Joseph. Still others sign three small crosses on the head. You can pray in silence.” Some worshippers call the activity Communion or The Lord’s Supper. Alternatively. (APBA Page 119). Some pray extemporaneously. There are no rules about when to sign the cross during worship. A collect is a particular kind of written prayer. We also associate light with enlightenment. we hear the priest say “The Prayer of Preparation” which contains the words. and we do two things about that. 15:34 . 3 of 4 24/12/17. It is structured in three parts: it addresses God. not me. and was an offering to God when spread about the altar. Those known as “High Church” were more prone to sign than those who were “Low Church.” One of the characteristics of the Anglican Church is that you are free to make your own interpretation about the details of the Eucharist.’ The signing used by early Christians was a way to sanctify every action in daily life from rising in the morning to retiring at night. and Incense” Why do priests wear special clothing? Why do I feel worshipful when they light the candles.” As you chew the bread and wafer. when absolution is pronounced. we expect some sort of transformation to happen to us. all desires known. choosing words that occur in the moment.. Jesus simply asked that we remember him when we eat his “supper. however. with actions. is what you make it. this serves to heighten the sense of community. we join our voices to those of almost five hundred years of praying Christians. This is called “ From the early second century writers testify to the use of the ‘sign of the Lord. One of the ways in which Anglicans differed was in whether they made the sign of the cross or not. Psychologically. one can travel from outer movements of the processional and the music to an inner silence of the inmost heart. Although the word is pronounced “collect. they are uniforms that explain the role of the person within the worship drama. It was used to show honour to the bishop. A third advantage of written prayers is that they express for us in beautiful words and literary phrases those thoughts and feelings we often struggle to say. since it has personal meaning for each of us. Candles. think about Jesus’ presence with you in this moment. even dangerous. Some make the sign at the mention of the name of the Trinity. you may remember that this was done to you. By our weekly participation in this ritual. we become more “Christ-like. Every gesture in the service will have a meaning for us if we enter into it and become active in participating in worship. In early centuries. A written prayer has its own value and is an important part of corporate worship. First.” Today we make the sign of the cross. Sign the cross at those times when it is most meaningful to you or when you wish to join your faith with that of others. As you hear the opening words of the “The Prayer of Preparation”. Others think of the bread and wine as symbols of Christ’s sacrificed body. There is one thing. about exactly what the wine and wafer are and what they become when they are blessed and eaten. There are many shades of belief. We associate the food with Jesus’ death on the cross (his body and blood).eppinganglicans. We are even conscious that persons within the Anglican Communion are praying these same prayers all over the world. Whatever you think and feel it is clear that a change of some sort has happened. we value the way in which our prayer is able to address the circumstances of the moment. (APBA Page 481) As the worship service begins.

We can “rest” in the liturgy.Anglican Worship & The Liturgy http://www. but in each of several choices certain actions remain the same. so to speak. we always take (Offertory). and “think on these things. We do more than just learn about God’s gifts. and over a lifetime.. as we come together for worship. The first Christians living in Jerusalem apparently used the familiar ritual patterns of Judaism. The reader was also told that the only persons who could eat and drink were those who had been baptised in the name of the Lord. and our thanks will again be given to God. One of the most important things in the Eucharist.” It shapes our lives in a profound and permanent way. It sets us free within the framework. In order to remember him we must know the meaning of life. about written prayers. is the telling of the story. celebration and gratitude will always be a part of the lives of its members. and other times. bless (Great Thanksgiving). Listen for it as you watch the blessing of bread and wine. An Anglican service is one of the ways. Just as Jesus did at the Last Supper. guiding worshippers to new spiritual 4 of 4 24/12/17. the gospel message will never go untold. we enact repeatedly the symbols of that event which called the community into being so that the event is present now with power. the structure we use each week has the power to bring us to a place where we can hear God in the depth of our being. The liturgy may change in its language and in the articles that are used. a container. It is also an immediate and contemporary experience for transformation as we become increasingly like the person whom the ritual celebrates. With each service we hear the Scripture. break (Fraction). and give (Communion). and questions about the Eucharist and the church year. Once we truly engage in it. The Holy Eucharist has a number of names. Understanding the separate moments of worship enriches our spiritual experience and deepens our ability to listen to God. or a safety net.eppinganglicans. We may think of it as a framework. and something that does not ever change. the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Communion. In those instructions the president was told to give thanks for the wine and then for the broken bread. The words may change. eventually adapting them to fit the gospel message. 15:34 . There are as many ways to worship as there are congregations of worshippers. drink the cup. but only about our own thoughts and intentions to God. What we do is our response to Jesus’ request that we remember him when we eat bread and drink wine together. depending on which “Order” is chosen from “A Prayer Book for Australia”.. gestures such as kneeling and signing the cross. Each in its own way encapsulates some of the meaning of what we believe Jesus said at the Last Supper. but the story will always be told each time the Eucharist is celebrated. and giving thanks to God for God’s gifts. The Mass. The earliest record we have of instructions for a Christian liturgy is from the second century. “The Eucharistic Words and Actions“ Sunday after Sunday. we notice that there is a definite pattern to the celebration of the Eucharist. people began to write down what they did. All of it has been for the purpose of better understanding what it is that we do on Sunday. Gradually. We have the immediate experience of receiving God’s gifts. and repentance. not worrying about someone’s performance. we have asked questions about the prayer book. “What are we doing in the Liturgy?” During this study. Sound familiar? The celebration of the Eucharist is like walking into history and joining with Christians from the earliest times in our remembering Jesus’ life and death on the cross. So long as people gather to worship in this particular way.