Worship is about recognising the worth of someone or something. So when we worship God we are finding ways of expressing how much we value God.
The styles of worship used by someone are affected by the Church tradition the Christian is part of.
Types of Worship
Actions are an important form of worship – in order to show respect for God, someone might kneel.
- Some Christians make the sign of the cross over their bodies to remember that Jesus died for them.
- Some Christians raise their hands towards heaven showing that they want to let God into their lives.
To show their love for God, Christians also emphasise helping those in need.
Services are usually full of words.
Some services follow a set pattern and others will be made up by people.
People will take part in prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer. They will listen to the Bible readings – the Word of God and will listen to a sermon – the minister or priest explaining and teaching.
Music plays an important part in church worship. Sometimes music is traditional and peaceful. At other times it is more lively. Different people prefer different approaches.
At the same time silence is important. It is important to give people space to communicate with God.
Holy Communion is important to almost all Christians as it is a remembrance of what Jesus asked his disciples to do in order to remember him.
Some Christians say that it is more important to focus on the present rather than the past and so do not celebrate Holy Communion. (e.g. Quakers).
It is a time when the Christian Community can come together and remember the most central part of their faith.
- Roman Catholics call Communion the ‘Mass’.
- They believe that during the service the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Jesus – this is called transubstantiation.
- The Mass takes place at least every Sunday – in most churches it is every day.
- It is the central form of worship for Roman Catholics.
- The Mass starts with a hymn – then there are prayers of penitence (to say sorry). There are readings from the Bible (there is always a reading from the Gospels)
- Then a sermon (on Sundays and sometimes other days).
- The creed is said on Sundays, and then there are the intercessions – the prayers of the community.
- This first half of the Mass is called the ‘Liturgy of the Word’ because the focus is on the Word of God. The next part is the 'Liturgy of the Eucharist'. Eucharist means ‘thanksgiving’ and is an alternative name for Holy Communion.
- At the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the bread and wine are brought up (the Offertory).
- The great prayer of thanksgiving is the ‘Eucharistic Prayer’.
- During this prayer Catholics believe the bread and wine become the body and the blood of Jesus.
- After the Eucharistic Prayer everyone says the Lord’s Prayer and makes the sign of peace.
- They then receive Communion.
- After Communion there is a blessing and the people go out into the world.
- There is a wide variety of type of service in the Protestant Churches.
- In some Anglican Churches, the structure is similar to the Catholic Mass.
- Sometimes the Communion part of the service is added on to the normal Sunday service.
- In many Protestant Churches, Communion takes place just once or twice a month.
- Most Protestants believe that the bread and wine symbolise the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross and is a way of remembering Jesus.
- The service might start with some hymns and prayers.
- After this there will be Bible readings and the sermon.
- The people might confess their sins and say sorry to God.
- There will be a reading of the Last Supper story and then the minister will explain the meaning of the passage.
- People will then receive the bread and the wine.
- The Service is often known as the ‘Lord’s Supper’ or the ‘Breaking of Bread’.
The service is known as the Holy Liturgy.
The service is divided into two parts.
- Liturgy of the Word - This part contains prayers and readings and a sermon.The high point of this part of the service is the ‘Lesser Entrance’ when the priest carries the book of the Gospels above his head in procession and sings the Gospel reading.
- Liturgy of the Faithful - In this second part the priest stands behind the iconostasis – a great screen that symbolises the huge gap between God and humans.
- - The priest prepares the bread and wine and then makes the ‘Greater Entrance’ – carrying the bread and wine through the church.The people bow as the priest passes.
- - The people exchange a sign of peace and then say the creed.
- - The great prayer of thanksgiving is said and the people say the Lord’s Prayer.
- - Finally the bread and wine, mixed together on a spoon is given to those people who want to receive Communion.
How the Bible is Used in Worship
The Bible can be used in public or private worship. Passages from the Bible are used in almost every Christian service and are often explained in a sermon by a church leader.
The readings from the Old Testament or the letters in the New Testament are usually read by a member of the congregation but in the Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic Churches the Gospel is read by the priest or deacon who sometimes carries the book in procession.
The Gospels are particularly important because they contain the words and teachings of Jesus.
Many churches also often have meetings during the week which involve people coming together to read and study and meditate on the Bible.
People will do this alone, in private as well. They will often spend some time reading a passage of the Bible with study notes.
They will look for ways that the Bible can help them in their everyday lives.
“Prayer is the most important part of a church service.” - Do you agree?
Give reasons for your answer, showing that you have thought about different points of view.
- There are many different types of prayer so there is something for every type of church service.
- Before worship it is important to ask God for forgiveness so that you can worship him with a pure heart.
- It sets what you are trying to do in the service in the right context – for example before receiving Holy Communion.
- People don’t pray for the entire service – some parts of the service ask us to consider our relationship with God in other ways e.g. through hearing the Bible being read.
- We can worship God in other ways, e.g. singing, being part of a community.
- Re-enacting the Last Supper is extremely important for many Christians.
Explain why the Eucharist is important to Christians.
- Start by saying that the Eucharist was Jesus’ parting gift to his people. He asked the disciples to ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ It was his final request and so many Christians feel it is important to carry it out.
- It brings Christians together as a community – another name for Eucharist is ‘Communion’.
- ‘Eucharist’ means ‘thanksgiving’ – Christians are saying thank you to God for sending us Jesus.
- It is a way of remembering Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and giving thanks for it.
- Now use two different Christian denominations to explain how it is important to different Christians.
- For example, Catholics believe that Jesus becomes present to them at the Mass and it is a way of becoming close to Jesus in a special way. It is the central form of worship for Christians and Catholics are meant to go to Mass every Sunday.
- Some Protestants believe it is an important symbol for the community but that we can meet Jesus through the Bible and this is where the focus should be for worship.