Christ Church Oahu is a liturgical church. Every church has a pattern of worship they follow. This is true whether it is a simple pattern of four songs and a sermon or a more complex pattern that we usually call “liturgical worship” or “liturgical church”. A liturgical church follows the pattern of worship developed during the first four centuries following Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a pattern of worships that is neither catholic or protestant. It is the pattern of worship the church followed before it divided. It is ancient.
A liturgical worship service would be recognizable by a christian of the fourth century and is easy to follow even if you do not know the language the service is in. There is a discernible pattern that is universal. Christ Church Oahu follows this pattern with reverence, joy, and biblical faithfulness. The pattern of the liturgy gathers people together in worship of God, focuses on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nourishes them with Holy Communion, and sends them back into the world in mission.
A liturgical worship service has two main parts sometimes called Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. Eucharist, Holy Communion, Mass, Lord’s Supper are all words for the celebration of Holy Communion. These two parts facilitate an encounter with God in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
Liturgy of The Word
The liturgy of the Word typically begins with one or more songs of praise to God. Here we are focusing our selves on the worship of God and being drawn together as a worshipping community. This is what the Hebrew word Synagogia means. To come together. It seems obvious that the worship patterns of the early church are similar to the Synagogue that the first Christians were expelled from.
Following the opening songs or hymns of praise, the assembled community does three things.
- Hear the Word of God: several readings of Scripture following a lectionary.
- Reflect on the Word of God: The Sermon
- Respond to the Word of God: Reciting the Creed, Prayers of the People, and Confession of sins.
The general confession and forgiveness of sins leads directly into the Passing of the Peace, the last act of the liturgy of the word. In passing the Peace, with shaking of hands, or hugs and kisses, we are celebrating the forgiveness of our sins. We are forgiven in Christ, and ready to draw near to His Altar.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
A song of offering and praise usually begins the Liturgy of the Eucharist as we offer our selves to God. In a liturgical church this is typically when a monetary offering and the offering of bread and wine for the celebration of Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist occurs.
Eucharist is a Greek word that means “thanksgiving”. The Holy Eucharist is sometimes also called the Great Thanksgiving. We give thanks to God for the salvation made possible in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We pray that God blesses the bread and wine we offer and then partake of, in order that we may receive grace from God as we receive the bread and wine. Liturgical Churches believe that Holy Communion is both a sign of grace and a means of grace. Because it is a means of grace it is the central act of Sunday worship for a liturgical church.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist ends with the final part of the Liturgy. The Dismissal isn’t simply an ending of the service. It is a sending forth of the community of faith into the world to live their lives as an act of worship. This is ministry. Sunday worship is to glorify God and feed us for His ministry in the world.
Christ Church Oahu is a church just getting started. We haven’t settled on questions like music style or a permanent location. We will always be a liturgical church in Hawaii even if the precise expression has yet to be discerned. Our current music style is a blend of traditional and contemporary hymns.