Physical Worship

Christian worship should never be a spectator activity like watching television or going to the movies or a concert. Christian worship is something we DO. It is bodily action. Episcopalians and Roman Catholics are taught to stand to sing, kneel to pray and sit to listen to scripture. Robin Williams calls this “pew aerobics.” The vast majority of Christian worship (other than Episcopal/Roman Catholic) these days has reduced the peoples’ role to that of audience/spectator. They listen to music and then listen to a long sermon with an appeal for giving. Ironically, that is not the type of worship mentioned in the Bible nor during the Reformation.

What does the Bible say about worship? We bow (Ex 34:8, Ps 5:7). We kneel (2 Chron 6:13, Phil 2:10). We lie prostrate (Mt 26:39, Rev 1:17). We lift our hands in the “orans” position (outstretched to the side, palms forward) (Ps 141:2, 1 Tim 2:8). We lift our eyes (John 11:41, Luke 9:16). And we lift our voices (Ps 77:1). Using various physical postures to help us share our hearts with God have been part of worship long before Jesus.

Episcopal worship is all about corporate prayer. It is prayer that we all say and do together. It is our hearts together that appeals to God. It is our articulation of our needs and concerns together that makes prayer what it is. Prayer is never something the clergy does alone. True, the Eucharistic prayer said or sung by the priest is a blessing prayer and the calling of the Holy Spirit to be present in the gifts of bread and wine. The celebrant says the prayer on behalf of the people. Even the Eucharistic prayer is not listening and doing. ALL the people present are blessing the bread and wine and ALL the people are calling on the Holy Spirit together.

One Roman Catholic document from Vatican II (1962) says that “Liturgy should be the full, active and conscious participation of all the people of God.” Amen to that.

If you want Sunday morning entertainment, there are lots of churches with comfy theatre seats where you can go and listen and watch. But if you want the real deal where Christ is truly present in the bread and the wine and the hearts of the people gathered, come to Grace.