We’ve looked at how there is room in liturgical worship for spontaneous and charismatic worship elements, and how liturgical worship can be greatly beneficial and formative for church communities. But let’s get down to some nuts and bolts issues: What kind of a liturgy is Simon Chan talking about in his Liturgical Theology?
In addition to the “deep order” of Word and Sacrament, Chan adds the Entrance and the Dismissal. I’ll provide Chan’s full example liturgy at the end of the post, for those interested. Four points are salient first:
First, he strongly advocates celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday, because as mentioned earlier in this series, the Eucharist completes and fulfills and is the fitting response to the proclamation of the Word. Word and Sacrament form a dialectic that is incomplete unless both elements are present. We’ve been celebrating Holy Communion at every service at Heartland for a few years now, and it’s hard to imagine a service without it now, frankly. Actually in recent months we’ve taken to celebrating it after the sermon, as a response to the Word preached, which lines up very much with what Chan says about the order of things. It “feels” right, and it’s something that has formed our church community in deep ways over the years.
Second, he also says evangelicals ought to be a lot more intentional with how they worship (this is where liturgical worship comes in). The words that are spoken before the Eucharistic meal, the responses of the people, etc, all need to be thought through and done in an appropriate spirit.
Third, just like performing the Eucharist every Sunday, Chan argues for doing the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed every Sunday. Not because we forgot the words, and not necessarily to only “teach” us something, but because such proclamations are “performative acts” – they are sacramental in that sense. They are words that do stuff when spoken with understanding and faith, both in the speakers and in the cosmos. (Kind of like when lovers say “I love you!” to one another – they are not gathering new information from one another; rather, the words perform a function – they have transforming power.)
Fourth, a practice conspicuously missing from most “Bible-believing” evangelical churches is the actual public reading of the Bible (without commentary). If we are people who are formed by the story of Scripture, then reading our story publicly ought to be a much more prominent part of our worship. Scripture reading should not by relegated to the private spirituality of “quiet times”. Both the sermon and the reading of Scripture are part of the proclamation of the Word. Right now we’re working on how to work more Bible reading into our services at Heartland.
Here is the liturgy Chan outlines in the book, for those interested in how this might be fleshed out:
The Proclamation of the Word
Reading of Scripture
Apostles’ or Nicene Creed
Prayers of the people (intercession)
Signs of reconciliation and peace
The Eucharist (Holy Communion)
The Great Thanksgiving
Sursum Corda (“lift up your hearts…”)
Preface prayer (thanksgiving to the Father)
Recalling God’s mighty acts in Christ
Words of institution
Mystery of faith
Epiclesis (blessing the elements)
Consecration of the faithful
Prayer for the return of the Lord
The Lord’s Prayer
Breaking of Bread
Eating and drinking