Liturgy or Worship

  • Download a pdf file of this resource here.

May God…grant that you may live in harmony with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one mind and one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:5-6).

The purpose of the Liturgy

The purpose of Liturgy, the “public worship of God” is to proclaim and celebrate the saving Christ in his redemptive work. We glorify God the Creator, we repent of our failings in love and justice, we thank God our parent, our nurturer for the goodness of the earth, we ask God to pour on us the spirit of wisdom in our joint decisions, and confidence in our actions for change. In praying together with other Christian churches who try to witness to peace and justice in our neighbourhood and city, we come closer to Christ, the vine, without whom we can bear no fruit.

Planning Liturgy

Whether working with members of other churches, or simply our own, there are various elements to consider. It may be that working with those of different traditions makes us think harder about the purpose and shape of our worship. Success in worship depends a good deal on the thought and planning ahead. The following notes are adapted from the National Justice and Peace Handbook, but there are many resources, from CAFOD, Christian Aid, Pax Christi, or other organizations easily available (see resources section of booklet/CD).

Thinking ahead

There are a number of elements: what structure do we want, what is our theme, how much time do wehave, and who is likely to be present? Symbols, movement and variety of sounds will add to the atmosphere we create. The group leader/minister/priest does not have to do it all. If the congregation is ecumenical, members of the different denominations should be asked to do readings, prayers or other actions. The more people involved, the more the liturgy will speak to all. A service sheet or at least the communal prayers or responses should be available to all. An explanation of the liturgy should be given beforehand. It is not a performance: it should lead people to prayer, to reflection, to celebration, thanksgiving.

Points to remember:

  • Silence can be important
  • Can young people or children have a special role?
  • Interfaith: Are our ideas acceptable to all faiths?
  • Brainstorming a subject with a group can be useful as a start* eg, Easter, Central America, Trade Justice, etc.

Possible visual elements: light, darkness, candlelight, icons, pictures, slides, posters, maps, artifacts.

Possible Symbols: Cross, bible, candle, water, bread, plant/flower/branch/seed, stone, cloth, oil

The grid below suggests possible structures, and varieties of input.

Possible Structures Variety of Media Variations
Introductory Rite
Liturgy of the word
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Concluding Rite
Spoken Word One voice
Several voices
Responses
Unison
Prayers
Readings
Hymns
Singing Solo
Group
Choir / All
Call to worship
Confession
Intercession
Thanksgiving / Celebration
Prayer Formal
Own
Spontaneous
 Confessing evil
Asking for forgiveness
Discovering the power of love
Committing ourselves to
peace
Drama
Movement
Play/Sketch
Improvisation
Mime
Freeze-frame
Dance/Actions
Confessing evil
Asking for forgiveness
Discovering the power of love
Committing ourselves to
peace
Music Instrumental
Sung
Recorded
Pilgrimage Space Formal / Round / Free

* Planning a liturgy or worship session would be a very fruitful activity on its own for any group.

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