Brothers and Sisters,
I share with us some more thoughts under the theme of “Church Culture”. We worship together and this means that the priest, servers, and choir are leading the worship, not performing for the congregation. By extension then, this means that all of us as worshippers should be doing almost all of the same things together. I use the first person to emphasise the point, if each of us is doing what follows then all of us create a culture of Godliness and reverence that is pleasing and wholly acceptable unto our God.
Upon entering God’s House of Prayer I must show reverence by bowing, genuflecting, or making the sign of the cross.
I must speak to God first and not engage in socialising; God’s house of prayer is for God and worship, first and foremost. I must prepare myself for worship by going through the order of service and especially going through the scripture readings, the hymns, and the collect of the day.
When and why do I make the sign of the cross? I must sign myself with the sign of the cross at the beginning of my worship: this shows that my worship is truly dedicated to God and is under His guidance. I must also cross myself at the end of the Gloria so that it is clear that it is God who is being praised and glorified and not me just having a good time. I must also cross myself:
- at the end of reciting the creeds: to seal my belief in the triune God;
- when the Priest pronounces the absolution after the general confession: this means my acceptance of God’s forgiveness;
- before and after receiving the blessed sacrament at the altar: to show reverence and acknowledgement of God’s Holy presence;
- and at the final blessing: thank you to God and a sealing of the worship I have offered as being done in Christ. Just as I began in Christ so I end in Christ.
In our worship I sit to be instructed from the first two scriptures and through the sermon. I stand to sing God’s praises during the hymns and I stand for the gospel for I believe that I will truly meet Jesus in the gospel. Standing represents my readiness and willingness to take the gospel into the world. My readiness and willingness is also expressed when I sign myself with three crosses when the gospel is introduced: a cross on my forehead invites God to take charge of my thoughts, a cross on my lips invites God to take charge of my speaking, and a cross over my heart invites God to take charge of my loving.
I stand always as a sign of respect when meeting others. So when I stand to meet Jesus in the gospel in the same way I stand to share the Peace of Christ with my brothers and sisters. I stand to give and receive that PEACE which the world cannot give. Even if I am not confident of having the Peace of Christ in my life I stand to receive that Peace into my Spirit. All of this enables us to take our worship seriously. Think of the very poor example we set for our children when we allow them to sit during the sharing of the Peace of Christ. Our reluctance to stand when sharing the Peace of Christ expresses poor.
I must be very mindful that my entire worship is a prayer. I do not read prayers, I pray my prayers! My whole manner of speaking to God must necessarily be reverent, respectful, and very intentional which means I must understand what I am saying and do not engage in vain repetition. I must take my time to worship God properly and not think that it is ok to speak to God in the same way I speak to my friends and family on a regular basis. If I do not see a need to treat my relationship with God as being a very special one, then why do I want to worship Him?
To worship God means his place in my life is unequalled to everyone else; I cannot therefore reduce my God to sub-standard behaviour. I will continue to work to reclaim that culture which says God first in God’s House and only my Best will do.