Liturgy (Worship) is the Work of the People

I missed our in-person Sunday morning worship on November 1.

A larger church body of which Harrow United Church is a part, the Antler River Watershed Region of the United Church of Canada, was having its fall meeting (by Zoom), and I was obliged to attend the final event of the weekend meeting, an online “celebration of ministries” worship service, at which 2 diaconal ministers were commissioned, and another minister, formerly of another denomination, was welcomed.

The members of the congregation’s worship committee, including Gillian Lamoure, Nancy Colenutt, and Janet Woodbridge stepped up to lead the service and did a great job.

Larry Anderson, Sue Timpson-Mannell, and Lari Sabbe led a modified form of Harrow’s “traditional” music ministry, offered (sanitized) percussion instruments to the congregation, with the invitation “if you’re happy and you know it make some noise!”

Here is a link to the YouTube video of this week’s service:

One word for what we do together at a worship service is “liturgy”. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about that word, as used in a Christian context:

The term “liturgy” literally in Greek means “work for the people”, but a better translation is “public service” or “public work”… The early Christians adopted the word to describe their principal act of worship, the Sunday service ….(re a duty for Christians as a priestly people by their baptism into Christ and participation in His high priestly ministry. It is also God’s ministry or service to the worshippers. It is a reciprocal service. As such, many Christian churches designate one person who participates in the worship service as the liturgist. The liturgist may read announcements, scriptures, and calls to worship, while the minister preaches the sermon, offers prayers, and blesses sacraments. The liturgist may be either an ordained minister or a layman. The entire congregation participates in and offers the liturgy to God.

Gillian read a reflection about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century. The article featured several different voices from across the United Church, each expressing their own ideas about how to live faithfully.

As Gillian mentioned during the service, it worked out that the week we knew I’d be “away” for the Regional meeting, was also a week in which I went to Walsingham and Simcoe, Ontario, to be present with my wife and her family while her father was dying. It was easier to do this knowing that the liturgy, the work of God’s people, carried on.

Here is a link to the Celebration of Ministries service, which was held at Grace United Church in Sarnia.

My friend, Christina Crawford, was one of two diaconal ministers commissioned at the service. She is serving as the minister of Forest United Church. We met at the Five Oaks retreat centre near Brantford, while I was part of the staff of the Ontario Jubilee Program, that trains people for the ministry of spiritual direction. It was a joy to share, even “virtually” in the formal recognition of her ministry.

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