Our Order of Worship
Its Meaning & Significance
What is Liturgy? (Liturgy means the work or participation of the people)
Emmaus Abbey Anglican Church lives in community. Just as many churches such as Baptists, Nazarene, and Methodists have a set format, structure, order of worship we also have a liturgy for worship. We believe the liturgy is alive and gives our worship form and structure. Basically, we pray, sing, read the Word and celebrate communion each Sunday. The roots of Christian liturgy can be traced back 3000 years to the earliest records of Jewish worship. Many of the specific prayers and phrases date back to just a few generations after Christ. Liturgy is literally defined as “the work of the people” and is congregational and participatory in nature. Its not about or who the pastor might be, its about worshiping God! We do not come together in the pursuit of an experience, but to worship Almighty God! Though exalted feelings may follow; our primary focus is bringing a sacrifice of honor and praise to the Most High God.
Our Worship, Symbolism and Service to God
Exodus 28; 29:37; Matthew 23:13-36
In Exodus, we find our worship practices were to praise and worship God. We also see in the New Testament, Hebrews 10:1-14 we see that Christ paid our sin debt and we are to praise, honor and worship him. In the Book of Matthew Chapter 23:13-36, we are given "seven woes." Jesus mentioned seven ways to guarantee God's anger, when he told the religious leaders about the "seven woes." These seven statements were very strong and unforgettable. They are still applicable anytime we become so involved in perfecting the ritual practice of religion that we forget that God is also concerned with mercy, real love, and forgiveness. Exodus 29:37 says we are a body of believers that must come to God with reverence and repentance. We are not to take God for granted, rushing into worship, treating Him with almost casual regard.
Our Liturgy is focused on God and not who is performing a ministry. Liturgy assists us when we are weary in the spirit and when worship seems difficult. It is in effect a stream of life-giving water flowing toward the throne of God, carrying us in its current when we’ve exhausted all our strength. It is not a ritual or empty signs of worship and practice it is the ancient meeting the contemporary to transform our body, soul and spirit into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Sacrament and Symbolism
One distinctive of our worship and fellowship is that we use a variety of worship aids, booklets and media as guides for parishioners to follow the service. Our worship in nature is evangelical, joyful and sacramental. Every action, gesture, and element is significant and rife with symbolism. Humans naturally gravitate toward tangible symbols and ceremonial rituals to commemorate and celebrate important milestones or abstract truths and covenants. Just as Christ used the everyday stuff of life (bread, wine, oil, etc.) to convey his kingdom ethic, so we believe that the physical elements of life enhance our worship and can act as vehicles of his grace.
The Opening Acclamation
The opening acclamation or prayer quickens our hearts, reminding us of the inauguration of the Kingdom of God here “on earth as it is in heaven.” The celebrant declares, “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” to which the people respond, “And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.”
We love music. We worship the majesty of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The New Testament church in the book of Acts was a lively church. It says they met in their homes, shared the gospel and sang praises to God. We at Emmaus Abbey embrace the ancient hymns, contemporary arrangements through media and DVDs in our praise and worship whenever we meet as small groups or for Sunday worship. Music is a welcomed adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Collect for Purity
We begin every service with this opening prayer asking God to cleanse our hearts and to take away any distractions or the thoughts of the world during our worship hour. The collect was a Latin prayer in the 11th-century and was part of the preparation prayers of priests before worship. Now this prayer is used to enjoin both the pastor and congregation in the beginning of the worship service to petition God to cleanse our hearts and minds of any hidden sins before we enter into Holy worship.
Confession and Absolution
We believe in both private and corporate prayer and confession. We bring our faults before God in a corporate prayer of confession and are reminded by the celebrant of the mercy and forgiveness that reaches us through the sacrifice of Jesus. It is Jesus who forgives us our sins. 1 John 1:8-9.
The Collect [-- meaning a prayer spoken by the people in unison]
This is an opening prayer. The intent of the collect is to collect or sum up the prayers of the people. It is a prayer reflecting upon the scriptures and changes according to the season of the church.
The Scripture Readings
We love God's Holy Word and we are a evangelical church and worship is heavily focused on scripture and incorporates a passage from the Old Testament, the Psalms, and the New Testament epistle during this portion of the service. The people corporately respond to the readings by declaring, “Thanks be to God.” The celebrant or leader then comes out among the people and reads from one of the Gospels. The people stand during the reading and respond in unison with, “Praise to you, Lord Christ.” The people's response is the outward honoring and reverence of the reading of God's word. We are an evangelical, sacramental and liturgical in our worship of God.
The Nicene Creed
Is our statement of faith summed up in the Nicene Creed. This is the basic belief of all Christians who believe in Jesus Christ death, burial and resurrection. We affirm the foundations of our faith through the Nicene Creed, joining with believers in the present and from centuries past, connected through the centuries by one faith, and one baptism. Every part of the creed can be supported by Scripture and reflects what God did through his Son on the Cross of Cavalry.
Prayers of the People
We are a praying people. We believe in fervent prayer. We share in the priesthood of all believers by interceding on behalf of the needs of the local church (or parish), the broader needs of the universal church and our Nation to come to Jesus Christ. Many of these prayers are in written form though spontaneous requests are incorporated as well. We many times offer extemporaneous prayers as well in the service.
Written and extemporaneous prayers help intentionally guide us away from our often self-centered petitions and direct our thoughts toward the needs of others. Believers often struggle with feelings of defeat in their prayer life; liturgical prayers take the focus off of human effort by equipping us with language as we bring our requests an praise to God.
Passing of the Peace
We love people. We are a relational church and seek to reach out to those in our community. Having received peace through the remembrance of our absolution, we extend a welcome and greeting of peace to those around us. This is the time we welcome our friends and share announcements.
Holy Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion or Great Thanksgiving)
Our Christian worship culminates in the communing of our hearts with Christ at his table. All baptized Christians are welcome. Christ invites us to come in remembrance of him, and he in turn reveals himself to us in the breaking of the bread, just as he did with the disciples. The Eucharist means (Great Thanksgiving) not only serves as a memorial but a time in which our souls are nourished by the body and blood of Christ.
At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist, the offering is brought forward at the same time as the bread and wine as a symbol of bringing to God the first fruits of the work of our hands. The priest says a prayer of consecration over the elements then elevates the cup and declares, “The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.” The term “Eucharist” literally means “thanksgiving”. We thank God for sending his Son, Jesus to save us from ourselves.
Benediction and Dismissal
We believe that the end of our worship service we are not dismissed from the presence of God but commissioned to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord” and empowered to take his presence to the outside world.
In closing, you see why we use the Liturgy. The liturgy is really a structured hour of prayer “praise and worship” and adoration to our Lord Jesus Christ. Liturgy is “the work of the people” not the pastor doing or telling everyone what to do. Liturgy is enjoined by every person in body, soul and spirit worshiping God all at one time and space. Amen.
If this has been your very first time or two of attending our service, give it some time and you will for sure begin to pickup the service format the more you engage in God's word. The worship service, format and music is projected overhead so the congregation can follow along without looking at a bulletin. Yet, we do hand out a bulletin for your comfort and ease. We hope to prepare you here on earth for worship, so that one day it will be familiar worship to you in heaven.
An Ancient Faith, Reaching a New Generation, Lived in Holy Community