Worship from scratch

I’ve participated in all kinds of worship and have my preferences, which have changed over the years.

But when I try to think of what I would do if starting from scratch, the liturgy and practices I’m familiar with take over.

It seems to me that we’ve got an ideal opportunity to do things differently, or at least offer something new which newcomers might find right for them.

If you were starting from scratch today, what would you offer?
«1

Comments

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    There's nothing new under the sun. I'd want basically preparation, including confession and absolution, readings, breaking open the word, prayer for all, a rite celebrating the acts of God, and the encounter with the risen Christ in bread and wine. Probably do away with some of the ceremonial though.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    A simpler version of the Eucharist, but pretty much intact @Zappa

    It sounds good to me, and I’m looking forward to the day when we can share in it again.

    But would it be right for newcomers, I wonder?
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    The invitation to "come and see" doesn't mean that everything has to be understandable or even acceptable to newcomers IMO.
  • Yes, although one perhaps need to think of Paul's admonishing of the Corinthians who were getting so carried away in their worship that any newcomer was likely to think they were stark raving bonkers.
  • Ah well, I daresay there are indeed still churches like that...
    :innocent:

    What @Zappa said, and all we would need in the way of furniture/fittings would be some water (for Baptism), some bread and wine, a Bible, a cup, and a plate. O, and maybe some candles...
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    A thurible or two would be nice as well!
  • I was keeping that aside for next Sunday...
    :naughty:
  • See how the religious paraphernalia is already creeping in ...
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited June 15
    :lol:
    Not yet - I said next Sunday...!
    :wink:

    Seriously, though, if (as I suppose) we are still to obey Our Lord's commands ('Baptise...', 'Do this in remembrance of Me...'), then a few artefacts are required. They need be only very basic, everyday items (the candles are for lighting purposes only, of course).

    I guess that, if we are to worship sans Sacraments, then literally nothing would be required, except a Bible?

    But then - what form would that 'worship' take? Just someone waving the Bible about, and proclaiming what he decided was God's word for that day? It would not be overly difficult, though, to go back to the very early form of the Eucharist as described by Zappa...

    ...but please may we have some hymns, and some singing?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    What @Zappa said, and all we would need in the way of furniture/fittings would be some water (for Baptism), some bread and wine, a Bible, a cup, and a plate.
    Well, you might also want something to put the water in, and the cup and plate on—a bowl and a table. :wink:

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    You all realize, of course, that you're describing what we've been doing in the reconstituted Church of Fools that has been holding services every Friday for some time now on the 8th Day thread.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    What @Zappa said, and all we would need in the way of furniture/fittings would be some water (for Baptism), some bread and wine, a Bible, a cup, and a plate.
    Well, you might also want something to put the water in, and the cup and plate on—a bowl and a table. :wink:

    No, no. Water in the lake/pond/river/sea, cup and plate on the ground.
    :wink:

  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Yes, although one perhaps need to think of Paul's admonishing of the Corinthians who were getting so carried away in their worship that any newcomer was likely to think they were stark raving bonkers.

    I have yet to see people getting carried away during a service of the Eucharist, but thank you for feeding my imagination.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    Yes, although one perhaps need to think of Paul's admonishing of the Corinthians who were getting so carried away in their worship that any newcomer was likely to think they were stark raving bonkers.

    I have yet to see people getting carried away during a service of the Eucharist, but thank you for feeding my imagination.

    hmmm
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Ha ha, I love it!
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    A green frontal (?) on the altar, and white vestments? Oh, the horror!

    At least he had the good sense to raise his skirts. :open_mouth:
  • PendragonPendragon Shipmate
    Everyone else appears to be wearing a green stole and the dreaded cassock-alb.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Pendragon wrote: »
    Everyone else appears to be wearing a green stole and the dreaded cassock-alb.
    The dancing priest is also wearing a green stole, though with a white chasuble.

  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    What @Zappa said, and all we would need in the way of furniture/fittings would be some water (for Baptism), some bread and wine, a Bible, a cup, and a plate.
    Well, you might also want something to put the water in, and the cup and plate on—a bowl and a table. :wink:

    No, no. Water in the lake/pond/river/sea,
    :wink:

    So not in Canada or other northern (and southern) countries, where I promise you, if you put so much as a toe in the water before July or after August, that toe will turn a fetching shade of blue (not in honour of Our Lady).
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth 8th Day Host, Mystery Worship Editor
    But appropriate for Advent.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    What @Zappa said, and all we would need in the way of furniture/fittings would be some water (for Baptism), some bread and wine, a Bible, a cup, and a plate.
    Well, you might also want something to put the water in, and the cup and plate on—a bowl and a table. :wink:

    No, no. Water in the lake/pond/river/sea,
    :wink:

    So not in Canada or other northern (and southern) countries, where I promise you, if you put so much as a toe in the water before July or after August, that toe will turn a fetching shade of blue (not in honour of Our Lady).

    Our local Baptists do their sea baptisms in wet suits (Hebrides). I'm sure thermally insulated dry suits can be arranged for arctic regions. :naughty:
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited June 16
    Going back to the OP, what do we think we're doing - or trying to do - when we worship?

    It strikes me that that's where to start from. Otherwise, by default, we've merely got to a simpler version of what we've got at the moment. That might ultimately prove to be the destination anyway, but without asking the more fundamental question, how will anyone ever know whether the answer is worth having?


    Two starters, Jesus's words to the Samaritan woman at the well of Samaria at Jn 4:21-24, and the Last Supper means bread and wine is a key in some way.

  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited June 16
    Yes although one could suggest that remembering Jesus with bread and wine only needs to be an annual event (i.e. on Maundy Thursday).

    Another text which could be key is 1 Cor. 14:26: "When you meet for worship, one person has a hymn, another a teaching, another a revelation from God, another a message in strange tongues, and still another the explanation of what is said. Everything must be of help to the church". However it's not clear whether it's a description of what was happening or an instruction as to what should have been happening.
  • ISTM that we all have too much baggage in the way of the long years of Judaeo-Christian worship to actually be able to start completely from scratch!

    But @Enoch raises a valid point.

    Quite apart from early versions of the Eucharist, the 1 Corinthians text would apply to many a less liturgically-inclined church today, so maybe all we can do, if necessary, is indeed to go back to the simple basics of the 1st Century.

    Getting shot of a lot of the baggage might not be a Bad Thing...
    :innocent:

  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    Going back to the OP, what do we think we're doing - or trying to do - when we worship?

    It strikes me that that's where to start from. Otherwise, by default, we've merely got to a simpler version of what we've got at the moment. That might ultimately prove to be the destination anyway, but without asking the more fundamental question, how will anyone ever know whether the answer is worth having?


    Two starters, Jesus's words to the Samaritan woman at the well of Samaria at Jn 4:21-24, and the Last Supper means bread and wine is a key in some way.

    I wonder whether we are all doing the same thing when we worship. Have we got differing ideas as to what a service is?

    For me, I am there to join with others in praise and thanksgiving and prayer. Perhaps some of the Psalms tell it the best. I have King David dancing in the streets in my mind now. Perhaps the dancing priest has influenced my thinking.
  • Raptor Eye wrote: »
    But when I try to think of what I would do if starting from scratch, the liturgy and practices I’m familiar with take over.

    From scratch meaning forget all my experience of churches and what happens in them?

    Liturgical clothing is obviously historical. If you were starting from scratch, you wouldn't invent albs and chasubles and stoles and all the rest of it, because there'd be no reference for it.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Hmm I wonder whether we would look for clothing which reflected our worship if we didn’t already have it. King David had a skimpy tunic, as I recall, which left him free to dance...
  • PendragonPendragon Shipmate
    What should we have instead then? Or are we going to leave it up to the individual and hope that they have a reasonable sense of what they should wear.
  • To be clear, that is not my proposal. I like our current liturgical garb, and see no reason to abandon it. But if we abandoned our collective memory, I don't think we'd re-invent it, because we'd have no point of reference from which to imagine it.
  • ISTM that we all have too much baggage in the way of the long years of Judaeo-Christian worship to actually be able to start completely from scratch!

    But @Enoch raises a valid point.

    Quite apart from early versions of the Eucharist, the 1 Corinthians text would apply to many a less liturgically-inclined church today, so maybe all we can do, if necessary, is indeed to go back to the simple basics of the 1st Century.

    Getting shot of a lot of the baggage might not be a Bad Thing...
    :innocent:

    I doubt it was ever "simple basics." The early Christians came out of Judaism, which had layers upon layers of "stuff' when it came to liturgy, and indeed, life. And they carried on worshiping in the temple, and apparently in the synagogues when they were let. So the college-dorm "simple basics" idea is probably a pipe dream for any stage of Christianity.
  • I wonder though if that varied from place to place? One could imagine that synagogue worship in a city such as Jerusalem might be more elaborate than what happened in rural villages, equally some of the early church were predominantly Gentile in make-u rather than Jewish.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    In the 1st century BCE and until the destruction of the Temple I wonder if there was any synagogue worship in Jerusalem.
  • Wet KipperWet Kipper Shipmate
    Pendragon wrote: »
    are we going to leave it up to the individual and hope that they have a reasonable sense of what they should wear.

    which is what happens in all the other churches which don't use vestments /uniforms.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    ISTM that we all have too much baggage in the way of the long years of Judaeo-Christian worship to actually be able to start completely from scratch!

    But @Enoch raises a valid point.

    Quite apart from early versions of the Eucharist, the 1 Corinthians text would apply to many a less liturgically-inclined church today, so maybe all we can do, if necessary, is indeed to go back to the simple basics of the 1st Century.

    Getting shot of a lot of the baggage might not be a Bad Thing...
    :innocent:


    I doubt it was ever "simple basics." The early Christians came out of Judaism, which had layers upon layers of "stuff' when it came to liturgy, and indeed, life. And they carried on worshiping in the temple, and apparently in the synagogues when they were let. So the college-dorm "simple basics" idea is probably a pipe dream for any stage of Christianity.
    I agree, but the question in the OP was about starting from scratch.

    The first Christians were Jews and brought their original baggage with them. Most of us are bringing our baggage onto this thread - hence the early reappearance of incense.

    There are those who have maintained that God will only accept our worship if we structure it as much like their interpretation of the New Testament as possible. Their argument is that this is what scripture says - conveniently skating over the inconvenience that most of the passages to which they refer are St Paul addressing how people were doing it wrong. There's not much, if anything, about what those who were doing it right did.

    If we start with the gospels, one possible conclusion is that Jesus is a lot less interested in the mechanics of how we do it, and rather more on the state of our hearts and lives. If, for example, we have a grievance with someone, we aren't encouraged to bring a sacrifice without first making peace with that person.

  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited June 17
    By simple basics, I think I meant the way(s) in which the early Christians (not all of whom were Jews, of course) tried to follow the teachings of Jesus.

    IOW, what we now call the Sacraments - Baptism, and Holy Communion - and Jesus' commands with regard to these (as well as discerning who our neighbour is) are where we could start from.

    I don't personally have a problem with this, BUT I do think a bit of baggage-shedding would be a Good Thing.

  • CathscatsCathscats Shipmate
    In fact the more I read the gospels, the further down Jesus’ agenda worship seems to go.
  • Or, at least, the formal practice of worship.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    ISTM that we all have too much baggage in the way of the long years of Judaeo-Christian worship to actually be able to start completely from scratch!

    But @Enoch raises a valid point.

    Quite apart from early versions of the Eucharist, the 1 Corinthians text would apply to many a less liturgically-inclined church today, so maybe all we can do, if necessary, is indeed to go back to the simple basics of the 1st Century.

    Getting shot of a lot of the baggage might not be a Bad Thing...
    :innocent:


    I doubt it was ever "simple basics." The early Christians came out of Judaism, which had layers upon layers of "stuff' when it came to liturgy, and indeed, life. And they carried on worshiping in the temple, and apparently in the synagogues when they were let. So the college-dorm "simple basics" idea is probably a pipe dream for any stage of Christianity.
    I agree, but the question in the OP was about starting from scratch.

    The first Christians were Jews and brought their original baggage with them. Most of us are bringing our baggage onto this thread - hence the early reappearance of incense.

    There are those who have maintained that God will only accept our worship if we structure it as much like their interpretation of the New Testament as possible. Their argument is that this is what scripture says - conveniently skating over the inconvenience that most of the passages to which they refer are St Paul addressing how people were doing it wrong. There's not much, if anything, about what those who were doing it right did.

    If we start with the gospels, one possible conclusion is that Jesus is a lot less interested in the mechanics of how we do it, and rather more on the state of our hearts and lives. If, for example, we have a grievance with someone, we aren't encouraged to bring a sacrifice without first making peace with that person.

    Perhaps worship is more about our heart, our attitude toward God and what we do in our lives to serve God and promote the good name of God, than it is about what we do when we gather together. Is the latter more to do with us and our needs than about God, I wonder?

    Does it make sense if church is about being drawn in to be fed and sent out to serve? If so, church surely needs to provide food for those who are not yet on solids as well as for those with a mature palate.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Raptor Eye I think we have to conclude from Jesus's words to the Samaritan woman at the well of Samaria at Jn 4:21-24 that our calling isn't just about being sent out to serve, that whether we understand it or not, worship is important for us, for the hearts and spirits God has paced within us, and for God also.

    What I think is more doubtful is whether we can claim either from scripture or from tradition that from God's end of the telescope, there is a right way to do it and that the way everyone else does it is wrong.

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Cathscats wrote: »
    In fact the more I read the gospels, the further down Jesus’ agenda worship seems to go.

    I don't think Jesus gave a fig for how worship was conducted, but He wasn't explicitly founding a religion, he was acting, working, and generally being. Worship has always been deeply tied to the community engaged in the worshipping; there's a reason Anglo-Catholics arose when and where they did. I personally think that tradition of worship is very meet and right, but it's obviously not the only way. Regardless, the community worshipping is the one that's going to be setting the rubrics.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Does this not depend on what we mean by 'worship' ? Christians themselves understand the word in different ways. I was astonished some time ago to learn that for Evangelicals 'worship' means 'singing worship songs'
    Jesus indeed called us to action, to show by our deeds that we are trying to follow his teachings.

    When asked to say what the greatest commandments were Jesus said 'Love God and love your neighbour' (my paraphrase)

    When asked how we should pray, Jesus said , 'Our Father in Heaven, may your name be held holy......'
    He starts by telling us to praise God, who is OUR father. We are part of a community and we have to take part in the life of that community. That is why some Christians consider it as extremely important that we do take part in the community life.

    In another powerful story of the Last Judgement Jesus tells us that ultimately it will be how we have practiced our love of neighbour that we will be judged and sometimes found wanting.

    How we actually conduct church services is perhaps only one of the ways of honouring God and also hopefully loving our neighbour, but without a knowledge of the teachings of Jesus as found in the Gospels, as found in the Church , then we may be very good human beings but we may also not be Christians

    Again one can say do we have to be Christians to know God ?
    Do we have to honour God to be a good human being ?

    My answer to both of these questions would be NO.
    However for me personally I find enough answers to life's questions in Christianity and I want to play a full part in the life of the Church.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    ... I was astonished some time ago to learn that for Evangelicals 'worship' means 'singing worship songs'. ...
    Grrrrrr. That's a serious and all too prevalent aberration. It's a usage that really annoys me. As is and does 'worship leader' to mean the person in charge of the music.

    If you're going to use 'worship leader' at all, it means the person at the front, at a eucharist, the celebrant. Any other usage misleads (pun intended).

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Forthview wrote: »
    I was astonished some time ago to learn that for Evangelicals 'worship' means 'singing worship songs'
    To be fair, that should probably be “for some Evangelicals.” I don’t think all Evangelicals use “worship” quite so restrictively; it seems to me to be a fairly recent trend among some.

  • Well, the phrase "Let's move into a time of worship" to indicate an extended free-form session of singing, possibly followed by open prayer, was already being condemned by my Theological College Principal in the late 1980s ...

    However I would like to slightly disagree with Enoch above. Most of the services I conduct are not Eucharistic - that's normal for Nonconformists. My role is, to take the two extremes of the spectrum, is either to "do everything" from choosing the music, leading prayers, reading from Scripture, accepting the offering, giving the announcements and of course preaching .... ; or to "curate", or act as "Master of Ceremonies", for other people to do these things.

    More usually my role will fit somewhere in-between: I don't usually give out the notices or do the Bible readings, for example; and I'm pleased if others lead the prayers of intercession, participate in a short drama sketch or read a poem or reflection I have chosen. I do usually organise the service content (although there are times when this is a collaborative effort) and I am usually the person who "holds it together". So in all these senses I am very much a worship leader!

    It seems to me that many modern Nonconformist ministers have ceded too much sway to the music leaders - although, of course, in many places they work well together in a highly constructive partnership. Indeed the music person may be the better person to conduct parts of the service. May I gently enquire though if things are actually all that different in some of our Great Churches and Cathedrals where the impression is given that, at services such as Choral Evensong, it is the Director of Music is in charge with the clergy fitting in to their plans?

    However I fear a tangent - possibly connected to four-legged creatures being put out to grass - being entered here?
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    Nick Tamen - of course I am happy to say 'for SOME Evangelicals'
    It is part of the problems of vocabulary meaning different things to different Christians.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    @Raptor Eye I think we have to conclude from Jesus's words to the Samaritan woman at the well of Samaria at Jn 4:21-24 that our calling isn't just about being sent out to serve, that whether we understand it or not, worship is important for us, for the hearts and spirits God has paced within us, and for God also.

    What I think is more doubtful is whether we can claim either from scripture or from tradition that from God's end of the telescope, there is a right way to do it and that the way everyone else does it is wrong.

    I agree, and it was what I was referring to: coming together in praise and thanksgiving is as much for our benefit as it is for God's, as we need to express our love and joy and share our sorrow in unison as well as living out our faith in our daily lives.

    And there is no one way to 'conduct' a service of worship. But if we were starting from scratch, which elements would we include, which would we leave out, what might we try? I'm sure there is a place for something new, or at least for a new recipe which includes some of the familiar ingredients.
  • I did once think about what were the absolute minima for collective worship - apart from people, of course! And I ended up with Bible reading and prayer (which of course can encompass praise, thanksgiving, confession and intercession; liturgical, extempore, charismatic or even silent!) You don't have to have music, sacraments, incense, icons, candles, pews and the accoutrements which we often consider "essential" - although they may well be useful, helpful and generally "nice to have"!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I did once think about what were the absolute minima for collective worship - apart from people, of course! And I ended up with Bible reading and prayer (which of course can encompass praise, thanksgiving, confession and intercession; liturgical, extempore, charismatic or even silent!) You don't have to have music, sacraments, incense, icons, candles, pews and the accoutrements which we often consider "essential" - although they may well be useful, helpful and generally "nice to have"!
    I would disagree that we don’t have to have the sacraments, or ordinances if you prefer. I think we do have to have them—not every service, but I think they’re more than useful, helpful and generally nice to have.

    Jesus didn’t command Bible reading, or much of anything else, in worship. But he did command that we baptize and memorialize him in the breaking of bread. They are part of what makes the church the church. From my perspective, even non-sacramental worship takes place in a wider context of a community formed by the sacraments.

  • Thinking about what Jesus is recorded as saying (IIRC)...

    Love God, and your neighbour...
    When you pray, say 'Our Father'...
    Baptise...
    Do this in remembrance of Me...
    Feed my sheep...


    Sums up worship IMHO. Quite how we do these things is up to us!
  • Cathscats wrote: »
    In fact the more I read the gospels, the further down Jesus’ agenda worship seems to go.

    For me, formal worship is a deliberate act of turning our hearts and minds towards God, so that we have some hope of keeping focused on God for the rest of the day / week. It's a reset button - one that says "stop getting distracted by your nonsense - bring it to God."

    That's what worship is for, and that's what the sacraments are for. It's all about bringing us closer to God.
Sign In or Register to comment.