What is Anglicanism?
We're asked this question a lot. The following entries were written to help clarify the answer; and as an invitation for you to join us for worship.
Anglicanism is a particular Christian tradition born out of the Protestant Reformation in England during the 16th century (the word Anglican simply means “of England”). As Anglicans, we value our place in a global communion of churches, our rich history of faith and practice, and a deep commitment to the authority of Scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anglicans choose to worship through an established liturgy, which includes corporate praying, public reading and preaching of Scripture, confession, singing, and communion.
What is Anglican Worship Like?
Worship is a Verb. Anglican worship, therefore, is centered around the active participation of hearing and responding to God’s Word through worship, prayer, confession, and fellowship with Christ in Holy Communion. We do NOT believe that worship is a "spectator sport." Rather, liturgical worship seeks constantly to involve the people in the worship event.
Worship at Christ Church is biblically-based and shaped by the Book of Common Prayer and the Church Year (a calendar based upon the life of Christ). The Liturgical Calendar is divided into six major seasons: Advent (Christ’s Coming), Christmas (Christ’s birth), Epiphany (Christ for the whole world), Lent (a time for reflection, repentance and grace in preparation for Easter), Easter (Christ’s resurrection from the dead), and Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of Christ’s Church on earth) followed by “normal time” (growing together as the Body of Christ and His witnesses in the world).
Why do Anglicans use liturgy in their worship?
Liturgy is the structural form that any church uses to facilitate worship. Historically, Anglicans have believed that a balance of traditional and more informal liturgy can be helpful to facilitate worship for a variety of different people. Here is why: A steady Liturgy transcends the ever-changing realities in our daily lives, and so we can count on it to bring us back to things that are true and constant. Also, Anglican liturgy teaches us how to pray scripture, as it was written by biblically grounded theologians who crafted and taught Christian prayer based on certain scriptures. Furthermore, Anglican liturgy connects us with millions of other Christians (from all over the world and throughout time) who have said the same prayers to the same God.
But can’t someone just ‘fake it’ through liturgy and simply go through the motions? Sure. Though you can pretty much ‘fake it’ through any style of worship, whether formal or informal. We think that if you engage your mind and heart, and give this style of worship a chance (that is, stick around for a bit), you’ll begin to love the depth and beauty if offers!
What are the various parts of an anglican worship service?
Music and Singing–The Scriptures encourage us to, “Sing to the Lord a new song,” and to “Let every instrument be tuned for praise.” While we love and honor timeless hymns which speak of and respond to the majesty of God, you will notice that we sing a variety of music to appeal to different tastes, experience, and temperament. If you are not comfortable singing a particular song, we invite you to just listen to the words and be encouraged by the truth others are singing.
The Collect—the prayer at the beginning of the service is taken from a collection of prayers that have been assembled to coincide with the church calendar. The “prayer of the day” seeks to focus the congregation together on Jesus Christ and ask the Lord to lead the congregation in worship.
Reading Scripture—we believe that the whole Bible speaks of God’s glorious gospel. Therefore we read portions of the Old & New Testaments in our services, including Psalms.
The Creeds—are statements of faith written by the early Church and recited by the people during the service after the hearing of the Word. Christians recite the Creed to recommit their lives to Christ and be reminded of what they believe. The Creeds proclaim succinctly to those interested in becoming believers in Jesus Christ what Christians believe. The Creeds also keep the Church accountable to the gospel.
The Prayers of the People—we respond to God and His Word by relating to Him in and through prayer. In prayer we listen to the Lord, give thanks, present our petitions and requests, and pray both corporately and individually. At Christ Church we pray silently and aloud during the Prayers.
The Confession of Sin and Absolution—is placed after the hearing of God’s Word as an opportunity to respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are given the opportunity to individually and corporately acknowledge and repent of our sins and to confess our need for Jesus Christ. The Confession is an Anglican “altar call” so to speak. The priest then proclaims the gospel: that by grace through faith in Jesus Christ complete forgiveness is offered to all who repent and trust in Christ.
The Comfortable Words—consist of four key Scripture references that remind us of humanity's deep longing for relief and God's deep longing to save. Matthew 11:28, John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15, and 1 John 2:1-2 (recited each week and in this order) beautifully capture the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Comfortable Words begin by stating: "Here these comforting words of our Savior Christ to all who truly turn to him" followed immediately by these four comforting Scriptures. The Comfortable Words ensure that, whatever else takes place in a Holy Communion Service, the gospel will always be present, will always be proclaimed, and Jesus Christ will always be exalted. Every. Single. Sunday.
The Peace—The purpose of “The Peace” before communion is for members of the church to 1) remind each other of the peace of Christ given because of the gospel, and 2) to allow members of the church who have been at odds with one another to “make peace in Christ” before they come to the communion table (see Matthew 5:23-24).
The Holy Communion—Jesus Christ gave the command for his people to break bread and drink wine not only as a memorial of his death and resurrection, but as an invitation to have fellowship with Christ through faith. Anglicans believe in the “real presence of Christ” not only in the bread and wine, but among the church gathered for Communion. Thus, the whole communion service is called a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.” Taking communion is not just an individual encounter but a corporate experience of Christ’s Presence among His people.
Receiving Wine and Bread—All those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and who are “in love and charity with their neighbor” (1928 BCP) are welcome at the Lord’s Table for communion. The bread is placed on an open palm and may be eaten followed by drinking from the common cup or may be dipped into the common cup of wine. If you do not wish to receive communion, you are welcome to come forward and cross your arms across your chest as a sign to request a prayer and blessing or to remain seated for reflection and prayer.
* Special thanks to Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh for providing these clear explanations.