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Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Church of Unchanging Novelty

Philip Welsh in the Church Times laments the à la carte nature of church service leaflets and harks back to the good old table d'hôte of the Book of Common Prayer.

In some respects, of course, Philip is a little behind the times. With PowerPoint and a data projector, who needs service sheets? All the hours parish administrators apparently spend  wrangling with photocopiers and printers (or Banda sets for particularly traditional go-ahead liberals) can be transferred to the clergy, fighting to get the liturgy properly formatted as they copy 'n' paste from PDF to PowerPoint or, for those that like telling The Man to do one, Open Office.

But once you've got the text on the electronic page, what joyful wonders are available to you in the creative use of transitions! Responses can swoop in from stage left, just in time to be said. Glorias can shimmer in golden lettering before dancing off into the distance. The letters of the confession can catch holy fire, before they crumble into dust as the words of the absolution are intoned. You can unveil the liturgy word by word - or even letter by letter. The congregation need never know what they're going to say, literally until they say it. What an adventure. What an exercise of trust in the minister. I mean, God.

No two services need ever be similar, let alone identical. A few macros, and the diligent clergy can have entire sections converted into Swahili, Urdu or Creole - even as the congregation is halfway through a sentence. The Eucharist Preface can be crowd-sourced during the sermon. At least it gives the congregation something to think about.

If you're wondering why you might want to do this, can I refer you to the Revelation of John the Divine:

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever,  the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

So heavenly worship is that.


Best get the novelty in now.

Anyone for tea lights?

1 comment :

  1. Nothing wrong with Common Worship, nor the BCP. Each has its place within the span of liturgy available, but anyone who has wrestled with the common worship book when not familiar with it, will know that is a resource, not necessarily easy to use quickly. Having to dodge between pages for the appropriate Eucharistic Prayer is just one example, as well as finding the collects or post communion prayers etc,. It also includes the BCP Morning and Evening Prayer, alternative form in Traditional Language. My copy is well worn after years of use, and a familiar friend.

    We use seasonal service booklets which are good enough, contain all that you need for a service and to my mind, is a compromise that works for people who are experienced worshipers and for newbies.

    Who can judge, only God will know which form he prefers, and we'll have wait a while for that. In the meantime we have examples from Jesus with the Lords Prayer and the scriptures that describe those worshiping God in heaven. Can't we take the lead from that?


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