Anglican Essentials, Class 2 (4 pages)

Class 2: Anglican Worship, Litugy, and Belief

Anglican worship relies on the Book of Common Prayer, which in turn is predicated on the truth of the story told in the Bible about God: God the Father, Maker of all there is; God the Son, who gave Himself for our salvation; God the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life.

Liturgy comes from the Greek words for the people and work.  It is the “work of the people.”

Anglican worship engages our whole being in ascribing honor or worth to God (worship from Old English weorth — honor or worthiness — and scipe — to create).  Worship is an act we do in response to God and by his command.  In worship we gather as the people of God and offer ourselves to Him with praise and thanksgiving  (Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.  Romans 12:1)

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple (1881-1944), defined worship to be

the submission of all our nature to God.  It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of the mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the Heart to His love; the surrender of the will to His purpose—and all this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable.” (From Readings in St. John’s Gospel, 1940).

The details of Anglican worship and liturgy are defined by the Book of Common Prayer.  Truro’s prayer book for many years was the 1979 revision by the Episcopal Church. We now are using the new 2019 revision by the Anglican Church in North America.

  • The Eucharist service (from eucharisto = “give thanks”) moves from Word to Communion:
    • We gather as the people of God.
    • We sing his praises (The Gloria) or ask his mercy (Kyrie eleison, Lent).
    • We hear the Scripture read.
    • We hear the Word proclaimed in the sermon.
    • We affirm our faith with the Nicene Creed and place our petitions before God.
    • We confess our sins, hear our forgiveness proclaimed, and express the Peace of Christ to one another.
    • We sing the Sanctus from the ancient liturgy.
    • The priest consecrates the communion elements using the words of Jesus.
    • We sing the ancient Agnus Dei (Lamb of God).
    • We receive the elements of Communion.
    • We express our thanksgiving.
    • We are blessed and dismissed by the priest.

Receiving the bread and wine in the Eucharist is a “partaking” of the body of Christ (“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Cor. 10:16-17);  the means by which the Body of Christ is received is Faith (Article XXVIII, p. 873, Book of Common Prayer).  The Anglican understanding of the Eucharist is often characterized by the term “real presence” with the detailed nature of that presence unspecified.

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