About our worship
This is our approach to worship and explains why we think worship matters.
It assumes that you are relatively new to church life and are perhaps attending our 9.30 am service on Sunday morning for the first time.
The first thing we want to say is “relax”. We do not expect you to be immediately familiar with all that happens. The service can seem strange but its difference is deliberate. The purpose of doing and saying strange things is to “awaken” our understanding of something “other” that is present in life, which we tend to miss when we are in the midst of living.
We call this “Other” “God” which we believe requires our attention. Why? Because it is the Source of what has made us and is purposefully calling us to respond in love.
How do we become aware of this “Other” or “awake” as the bible calls it, or “hear” this Love that Jesus teaches? Sometimes it is by taking time to pause and review what is happening, reflecting on where God is, either in the moment, or later through prayer and worship, using times of quiet and stillness to amend our disposition.
Sometimes it can be through a simple curiosity of spirit. On other occasions it can be through a sudden “arrest” in the midst of life, an event that knocks us sideways, which we intuitively know is asking us to hear and see matters in a new way. This is the work of the “Other’. This is the work of God.
If this is happening or has happened to you - you are welcome. Whatever has brought you here. You are welcome. You can just simply allow yourself to be here. You don't therefore have to follow the words in the service sheet. Some people just like to watch and listen; soaking up the atmosphere, allowing the experience of worship to inform them of the presence of God. This is perfectly acceptable.
Others prefer to have some idea of what is going on explained and to have some idea of what it is that we believe, which is why these notes have been prepared.
This act of worship, of which you are a part, comes from the time the followers of Jesus met in each other’s houses, 2,000 years ago, to share a meal which both remembers the last meal Jesus had with his disciples but also works with the promise that Jesus would come to them again as they worked to build a better world.
At this Last Supper Jesus intimated how far and how deep God’s love extends to all creation and after his death and resurrection those whom he had loved encountered his presence in many various and different ways, but commonly when they met and shared a meal together in His name.
Hence this act of worship centres on where Jesus came from, why he came, and the taking up of his work.
Jesus came from an ancient people called the Israelites. In the Old Testament, the foundational scripture that we share with Judaism and Islam, we hear stories about how God has called numerous different people to work with Him. In the New Testament we listen to the specific stories and teachings of Jesus calling men, women and children to enjoy a personal relationship with God and build a better life.
This may resonate with your sense of a “new awakening” or a sense of “mindfulness” that is talked about today. So in this service, particularly in the sermon and prayers, we make a conscious connection with these aspirations to create a better world, referring to this work as the work of the Holy Spirit, recognising that God is as present today as He or She has ever been.
The dynamic of the service is to greet one another in God’s name, before moving on in the confession and absolution to allow each person in total privacy open up to God about what is on their minds, acknowledging those things which get in the way or are frustrating, but being assured that each of us is deeply loved and cared for by God.
We then hear how people of old were similarly challenged in their day
and how the resourcefulness of God allowed them to bear burdens or take transformative action. Having worked on ourselves, learnt from the inspirations of the saints and God’s redeeming work we then turn our attention to the world as it is now to work with what God is calling forth from us next.
The pivotal moment of the service is reached with the invitation to come forward for communion (or a blessing) at the altar rail, the altar being the place of sacrifice, our sacrifice being our thanksgiving, our thanksgiving being for the “awakening” that we have received. We may also bring not just ourselves forward but others and concerns too that we hold in our minds.
The culmination of the service is then reached with the dismissal to go back out into the world and make that difference, with the knowledge that when battered and bruised we can return again for further renewal and regeneration.
Hence this is a cyclical process and it will take more generations than ours to complete God’s work, but we will have been a part of it and will remain a part, until that day His work is complete.
In this Church we recognise the importance that music plays in worship and we have an educational programme where there are opportunities for people to learn how to sing publically.
Neither can we promise an absence of disturbances or noise. But we are able to teach people how to handle noise, and especially with children and young people present we teach people to hear the naturalness of their sounds and to rejoice in that which God is creating. We say that the worst sound in church is the noise of adults saying sssshhhh!!
If you have young children with you please feel free to use the Crèche at the back of the church. A little noise is to be expected but should a child become fractious, during the Sermon or Prayers, we would ask that you be kind enough to take them into the Café until they are calmer. There is a loudspeaker system in there, which will enable you to carry on listening to the service.
Our worship is designed to help you tune in to a different way of listening and paying attention. It is designed to be strange and to help you become more aware of the “Other” and that by doing this our hope is that you fill also find the “Other” in your life throughout the rest of the week.