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Understanding Worship


“The conversations in the new St Francis College short course ‘Understanding Worship’ remind us why generations of Anglican Christians have found communal worship so rich and valuable,” says FormedFaith’s Fiona Hammond

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Physical distancing and necessary COVID-19 restrictions have led many of us to examine our routines. We ache without some of them – such as when Mum brought dinner over and babysat the kids once a week. Others we can do without – peak hour traffic anyone? Other routines have been adapted to suit physical distancing protocols. Church life has changed temporarily to keep everyone safe, which we’re ok with because the need for physical distancing is clear. How much do we miss the routine connection and participation in communal worship though?

The Anglican community revolves around sharing in the Eucharist, common prayer and worship. Many communities have been finding other alternative ways to gather – over the phone, online or via ‘hybrid church’ during the COVID-19 period. Some remote communities have no doubt been thinking ‘business as usual’ as they continue to serve geographically-distanced members and engage in sporadic services. Some communities have discovered the beauty of the Daily Offices in the Prayer Book.

What’s been your reaction to putting face-to-face communal worship temporarily on hold? Here are some responses:

‘We’re doing ok with church online, but I miss the community.’

‘I love sleeping in on Sunday mornings! But I miss my community.’

‘I miss my parish family – my kids are missing their church friends and I miss my pew time!’

‘The reverence of a Communion service…I just don’t get that anywhere else, even in my own quiet time at home. Yeah, I miss church.’

Have you enjoyed the time to yourself?

Have you missed the community?

Have you missed the sacrament of Holy Communion?

Whatever the situation of your parish community, this is a great time to reflect on who we are as Anglican communities and what is important about communal worship routines.

What is worship? Why do we do it? What is the Eucharist and why do we keep doing it after 2000 years? How many ways can we be a community of faith? Can we do faith by ourselves? Do we need people of faith around us? Where does our Prayer Book come from? Why do we use it? What’s in it?

Throughout the new St Francis College short course, ‘Understanding Worship’, the FormedFaith team asks these questions and more – 33 questions, under six themes, in fact!

Here’s one! Have you ever wondered what it’s like for a priest to preside at a liturgy? Well, we were curious – after all, being a priest is not your ordinary day job – so we asked several priests (with 100 years of experience between them), and words like ‘mystery’, ‘privilege’ and ‘humbling’ came up again and again. It seems that sharing in the ritual that Jesus started is a complex and wonderful thing. Have you wondered how Anglican clergy navigated their own faith journeys during the COVID-19 period when face-to-face communal Eucharistic worship was not possible?

Many of our Anglican communities have resumed some form of communal worship. The conversations in the new St Francis College short course ‘Understanding Worship’ remind us why generations of Anglican Christians have found communal worship so rich and valuable. They also might remind some of us about why we get out of bed on a Sunday morning to go to church!

Find all six themes and 33 questions here on the St Francis College website. Use the discussion questions in groups or by yourself and revisit the ideas in the transcripts.

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