Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In the Body or Out?

Life in a Cathedral?

Recently a man I know reported to me on several weeks of his attendance upon worship services in the Episcopal tradition. He was not able to tell whether he was in or out of the body during these experiences. I here share that report adding no evaluative comments save those he included his report.

There was no chatter in the sanctuary prior to service’s commencement. This allowed time for prayer and gathering one’s thoughts. It would perhaps be somewhat disturbing to the average evangelical who is used to the roar before the service.

The majority of adults knelt and engaged in silent prayer during the time before the service. Some made the sign of the cross. For the most part this did not appear to be perfunctory.

The dress on the part of men and women, including young women, was generally conservative, thus not distracting.

The clergy were both male and female, leading the service, preaching the sermon, and administering the sacrament.

The Scriptures, except for the Gospel, are read by laity, male and female.

In the pew racks are Prayer Books and Hymnals, but no Bibles. However, all the Scriptures are printed in the order of worship.

There are three readings of Scripture in the service.

The sermons are thought out, concise, and intentional though the content is “mixed” in terms of edifying effect.

Thy hymns are unfamiliar but orthodox and “traditional.”

There is a disconcerting “pause” for announcements before the Communion.

The prayers are substantial and compact (somewhat like Packer’s writings). They contain no disguised announcements or exhortations and are not wordy or repetitive. (First names are given in relation to certain thanksgivings and intercessions.)

The whole service is conducted in the face of the congregation. (This is in contrast with a certain reformed Episcopalian worship where the priest’s back is frequently to the congregation.)

There is a certain lack of self-consciousness about the conduct of and participation in the service which is refreshing. One just worships.

One communes with the Lord in both kinds – Word and sacrament.

I am not sure how to evaluate this man’s experience, as to whether he was in or out of the body, as to whether he is to be condemned, commended, or understood. The reader may judge for himself. I merely pass on his report to me.

No comments: