We Believe in Worship:
The worship of God has fallen on bad times in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century. Many follow the “contemporary” worship movement, thinking that it does not matter what we offer to God as long as we are sincere, that He must accept what we do, no matter the form or the substance. We in the Reformed Episcopal Church hold to a more God-centered worship, maintaining that worship is objectively revealed in the Bible. Thus we are so concerned to worship God His way that we follow the Church for 2,000 years in using a written liturgy. Of course everyone uses a liturgy but many leave it unwritten, but they do something every time they get together, even though it may be different each time. What one does in worship is his liturgy.
We do make changes to our worship book, the Book of Common Prayer, as we progress in our understanding of Scripture, but our changes are very gradual and well-thought out. Our Book of Common Prayer that we currently use is based on the 1662 edition and the 1928. One will find the Book of Common Prayer very Trinitarian and biblically oriented. For example, all through the Book we find the expression “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Also, in our services, we read passages from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Epistles. We are concerned not just to claim to be Bible centered, but also to actually practice such each service.
Those who criticize us for using a Book in worship may not realize that 70% of the Book of Common Prayer is directly the words of Scripture, 20% is putting passages together, and 10% is based on biblical principles. We believe in worshipping God His way, not however we may invent as we go along, and certainly not what is acceptable to the culture to make people feel good. We are in worship for God, not for man, and He is to be the center of our worship. We are to please Him, not man. It is even secondary what we get out of worship, and primary that He is pleased. Worship is to be God-centered, not man-centered.
One will find the table for the Lord’s Supper in the center of and in the front of our churches to emphasize that Jesus is the center of our worship. This table is placed between our “pulpits.” We have two “pulpits,” one to read the Bible from (called the lectern) and another to preach from, indicating a distinction between the Bible read and interpreted. Thus the Bible is read, sung, interpreted, and then “eaten” in the Lord’s Supper, which is the climax of the Sunday worship service. By “eaten,” we do not mean literally as the bread and wine remain bread and wine but are concentrated to a holy use in the service.
Our worship services are modeled after the Book of Romans where Paul by the Holy Spirit demonstrates our need of Christ by first rehearsing all the common sins we are inclined to commit (Rom. 1:18-3:20). Then Paul gives us the grace of God in Christ (Rom. 3:21 to the end of the chapter). Finally, he teaches us how to receive such grace by faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 4). Thus we have law, grace, and faith in every such service so that the Gospel is learned over and over all one’s life. The Book of Common Prayer, therefore, also emphasizes that the Gospel is not something we believe once and leave but that we are believing all the time. Salvation is not just a past experience (saved from the penalty of sin) but also a present experience (as we are being saved from the power of sin) and a future reality (as we shall one day be delivered from the presence of sin, both inwardly and outwardly).