Teaching Liturgical Excellence
by the Rev. Tina Lockett
Trinity’s vision statement says that we seek to produce “outstanding leaders who can plant, renew and grow churches.” So if one goal of a church is to worship God together, then Trinity needs to produce leaders who can guide people in worship. In our particular context this means worship in the Anglican tradition. Now, to answer what is worship in the Anglican tradition would require moving to a classroom and having many theological discussions.
Outside the classroom, in the chapel, we are seeking to form Christian leaders for liturgical excellence. How do we do this in practice particularly when the landscape our graduates will face beyond Trinity is so incredibly diverse?
In recent years I have worshiped in large cathedral-size buildings with elaborate vestments, beautiful silver Eucharistic vessels, and people filling multiple roles— preacher, celebrant, deacon, sub-deacon, verger, and acolytes. I have also spent Sundays at church plants which set up and take down each week in a school cafeteria or the upstairs room of a bar. The funding is low, vestments are few, and a simple cup and small plate are placed on a table. The volunteers may be eager to help, but they are new to worship in an Anglican setting. This is but a small glimpse of the great diversity of places where our graduates will find themselves. Thus, we must prepare our graduates to be both deep rooted and widely prepared.
Beginning Fall 2013, our newly named Leadership Formation Groups (formerly known as Advisee Groups) each have a week of chapel duties. During that week, the student and their faculty advisor will divide up all the duties for services of Morning and Evening Prayer as well as our weekly celebration of Holy Eucharist. With this pattern the group and their advisor will plan and practice their sermons together, perhaps a week of preaching the psalms, and the group will practice effectively reading scriptures and leading Morning Prayer. The Seniors may teach the Middlers and the Middlers the Juniors. What better way to know that you “know” how to do something than when you teach someone else.
Also, along with a few students I have put together a few short videos which walk through the daily office services of morning and evening prayer. In these videos we model how to serve as an acolyte, chalice bearer, deacon, or priest. These videos are available to our students to watch as they learn and practice.
Finally, during new student orientation, I have begun to stress the importance of asking, “Why?,” particularly when it comes to worship. And never be shy to ask questions of faculty and other students. Why do we do this? Why do we not do that? What is the purpose of this? Where do we find that? Is it biblical? Is it practical? Does it point toward God?
Innovations for worship, even liturgical worship, will come and go. But preaching the word of God in a faithful manner as well as offering and receiving the bread and wine in an established pattern each week will bring excellence to our worship of God.
This Story Can Be Found In
The Seed and Harvest – Fall 2013 Edition