The Liturgical Commission of the Anglican Church has composed for its Common Worship resources creative and poignant ending prayers for each of the psalms, along with a refrain to be repeated at various points through the psalm.
Their ending prayer for Psalm 131 could serve as a helpful opening prayer for worship as it sums up many of our aspirations as we come to worship
Eternal God, calm and quieten our souls; keep us humble and full of wonder and trusting as we live in your love ….
‘Liturgy is always embodied in material things’
The above phrase from ‘Transforming Worship’, a Liturgical Commission Report para 2.6, echoes St John of Damascus (675-749) when he insists that:
‘I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter.’
Considering the corporate worship of your church in what different ways is the liturgy embodied in material things?
Special Anglican prayer / collect for today echoing St Augustine:
‘Almighty God … our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you …’
What questions arise as we reflect on these words? How can we find this sort of rest? What sort of things help us to focus on God? How does corporate worship on a Sunday lead us to this sort of rest? How important is silence or more quieter completive forms of prayer? Can we find God in this way in more exuberant worship? How important is thankfulness in this process of finding rest in God?
Charles Baird enlightening book, A Chapter on Liturgies, on ‘reformed liturgies’ published in 1856 is available as a free download from Google. I appreciate how he values the worship traditions of the past when he writes ‘There is in the Church of Christ a rich and copious literature of devotion, accumulated by the labours of many ages. Holy men of prayer have been gifted at some periods …with elevation of thought and language necessary for the adequate expression of devout feeling.’ (p4) He goes on to press for the consideration of using some of these in the worship of his day. ‘Do …rules exclude us from the use of the best liturgical compositions, and force us to rely on our individual resources of conception…?’ (p5) How familiar are we with ‘the best liturgical compositions’ in the history of the church and how are they influencing the development of our worship events today?
‘I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.’
(from Reflections on the Psalms)
Yesterday I was struck by the the psalmist’s response to God’s love – ‘Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.’ NLT Psalm 5:7
“Unafraid to reason, unashamed to adore” – this ‘mission statement’ of a church in London caught my eye the other day and made me stop and ask whether I, myself, am ever afraid to reason or ashamed to adore. Grosvenor Chapel