Friday, 22 April 2016

on worshiping together

Annual Address from the 2016 APCM at St Anne and All Saints South Lambeth

What happens when we come to church on Sunday?
St Anne and All Saints has been a place of prayer and devotion for over 200 years. Generations of parishioners have gathered here to meet with Jesus Christ in Word, Sacrament and through the ministry of one another. Worship is our response to all that God has done for us, giving thanks for the blessings we enjoy and through which we equip ourselves to serve Jesus, in whom we enjoy new and abundant life. For many people, Sunday worship is a place for individual prayer. And it is also something we do together as a community. We are therefore responsible not just for our own worship but for that of those around us.

Refreshing the way we worship together
Over the last four years, we have made a number of changes to our worship to ensure it is honouring to God, enriching for us and attractive to visitors. Services begin punctually, and we have new orders of service which enhance the dignity of the liturgy. We have recruited a first-class musician to play our organ, and we’ve introduced new music for the Eucharist. We have been training those who participate in leading worship (by reading lessons, leading intercessions, or as altar and chalice servers), and have dropped announcing hymns, all to help services flow more smoothly. And we have explored the use of different Bible translations as we seek to make understanding the Scriptures as easy as possible.

How you can help
Enabling good worship is the work of the whole congregation and there are three ways you can help:
1. Be at church before 10.30am
Arriving late distracts others from the service, and means you haven’t had time to prepare yourself for worship — especially if you arrive after the prayers of confession which follow the opening hymn.
2. Create time for prayer before and after the service
The organ will be played for about ten minutes before the service, and for a short voluntary after the service. During this time please remain seated and silent to allow others to have time for stillness, prayer and reflection.
3. Help those around you to worship
Be aware of making unnecessary noise or creating other distractions during the service. Leave conversations (including church business) until the service has finished. Please switch off your mobile phones, refrain from eating and drinking, and leave noisy plastic carrier bags at home.

Church provides a contrast to daily life
We have all become accustomed to the constant chatter of television and radio, or the stimulus of smartphones, emails and texting. Coming to church provides a place away from the noise and distraction of daily life. This is a place where we can find stillness, attend to our inner life, and listen out for the still small voice of God speaking to us. It is a place to set aside the difficulties of life, and offer our concerns and worries to God. A place to wipe the slate clean over the times we have let ourselves and others down. A place to be recharged and restored for the week ahead, as we step out ‘in peace to love and serve the Lord.’

Here is where we root our lives in silence, prayer and deep devotion to God as we gather to encounter the living Christ and recommit ourselves to following his way.

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