Last Sunday, I spoke at All Saints’ Anglican Church, Whitby. The congregation has two different types of service each week, so, glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to preach two different messages (according to the length of time allotted me, and according to the lectionary readings I was assigned). [I may post mp3s of those messages, so check here to find them.] I’m not often invited to speak in Anglican congregations, so it was an enriching experience for me to participate in a Eucharistic service that was completely spoken – no music at all – at 8:00 a.m., and to participate in a “choral mattins” service that was almost completely sung at 10:00 a.m. As a low and free church kind of guy, I find it’s enjoyable to experience a higher liturgy now and again.
What struck me the most about the services, especially the choral mattins service, is how infused they are with Scripture. There’s not just the four prescribed readings from the lectionary; there are biblical allusions and quotations in many of the sung and said portions of the services.
Of course, it’s possible to infuse any style of worship with Scripture. Scripture choruses, metrical psalms, etc., all draw us into the Word, often in very subtle but effective ways. These can prepare the way for the Scripture to fill our hearts with the love and knowledge of God.
I was particularly struck, too, by the reception that I received. Betty, our Bible Store manager, was with me, and together we were welcomed at All Saints’ as royalty! Many people came prepared to purchase Bibles, and happily anticipated the preaching of the Scriptures. It was a really happy experience!
This happened because the Rector, The Rev. Ken Davis, had prepared his people for our visit. Sunday was the kick-off to several weeks of Bible engagement for the congregation. Ken’s desire is to get all of his congregants reading the Bible, and preferably studying it in small groups.
As the area Bible Society Guy, how could I argue with that?
Keep up the good work, All Saints’. God knows the difference you’re making!