If you are new to an Anglican worship service, then (depending on your experience in other church settings) it may strike you as a little strange. In contrast to many of the worship services you might attend today, Anglican worship is formal—that is, it follows a set pattern. The “blueprint” for Anglican worship is the Book of Common Prayer (or BCP for short). “Common” prayer, as it is used here, does not mean “ordinary” or “unremarkable.” Rather, it means “communal”—it is the prayer of God’s people in concert together. Though the language of the BCP was composed during the English Reformation of the 16th century, the service itself is rooted in the worship tradition of the ancient church. At the heart of all Anglican worship is the intention to realize, in a reverent and communal way, the presence of God in the midst of His people (Mt. 18:20). Therefore, the “high points” or summits of Anglican worship are the proclamation of the Gospel and the offering of the Lord’s Supper.
In the interest of intentional and focused worship, the Anglican service encourages participants to engage the whole self in the effort to approach our Lord and Savior with gratitude and humility. We employ all our senses—sight, sound, touch, taste, and (in some churches) smell—in the effort to practice a special awareness of Christ’s presence. Thus, we kneel to pray, and often use the ancient signum crucis, or “sign of the cross”; we stand to sing, hear the Gospel, and recite the Creed; many churches use bells during the consecration of the Lord’s Supper, and some churches use incense (a practice which goes back to ancient Hebrew worship) in their services.
At first, the flow of the Anglican worship service may seem confusing. Like anything worth doing well, it comes easier with practice! We hope that you will consider joining us for Sunday worship in order to discover the treasure of the Anglican worship tradition.
What should I expect when visiting St. John’s? First Visit