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The Sunday Catholic liturgy included several steps that appear to correspond to those of typical worship as described by Willimon. First, the church was gathering: some of the people seemed to be praying or possibly, meditating. The pastor walked into the sound of the hymn Jesus, Remember me. When the pastor greeted the people (by wishing that the grace of Jesus Christ was with them), they responded accordingly. Several prayers followed, and then the readings began with hymns between them. The priest announced the titles of the readings: one from the book of Isaiah, one from Luke, and one from Corinthians. One from John was interpreted: it was about the Christian idea of love.
The pastor invited the church to confess, and silent prayers followed. During the offering part, the bread (wafers) and cup that had been on the altar were uncovered, and the baskets with money from the church were collected. The people were invited to accept the bread and the cup. The children tried it as well, so there must have been juice. The priest seemed to know the names of many of the people and was touching their hands when they were receiving the bread. The hymn One Bread, One Body is being sung in the process. There were two more hymns afterward, and the people were let go with a blessing. Not everyone left immediately, many of them wanted to talk to each other, some stayed in their places, probably thinking or praying.
The pastor did not appear distant. Unfortunately, as can be seen from the description, the worship did not correspond to Smith’s description of the new type of preaching (47-57). It would have been interesting to meet with unusual interpretation and preaching as an art of resistance, but this was not the case (probably, because no controversial issue was discussed). In fact, the way the pastor explained the scripture was very simple (probably, because there were children in the church). Still, while not being particularly rebellious or enlightening, the priest’s interpretation was inspiring, primarily due to the way it inspired himself. It seemed that he had “the power of the love of God shed abroad in Jesus Christ,” and the people listened to him with great attention (Proctor 50).
Analysis: The Role
It is hard to believe that every one of the worshippers was a “seeker” praying as if “being in love,” but it was obvious that many came here willingly and left in a special, elated state of mood (Willimon 75). It was especially noticeable in the way they were talking to each other afterward; apart from that, it appears they were also glad to meet with each other. Many of them were obviously acquainted, and it is natural that they enjoyed the company of people who share their beliefs with them. As for the images, they appeared to react to them differently, but the interpretation seemed to be of interest to most of them, and the bread and wine offering was met with reverence, which is understandable since they become “the very presence of Christ” (Willimon 78). It is not certain that they regard the liturgy as a “miracle of corporate worship,” but the “work of the people” seems to give them extra strength to spend when they return to the world (Willimon 76).
Analysis: The Evaluation
The worship corresponds to the theological requirements: the key procedures were carried out. It was also typical in making emphasis on the aspects that the pastor considered most significant: like it was pointed out, no particular rebellion or innovation appeared in his words. Still, it does not seem that the lack of social context and rebellious interpretation of the text deprived the worshippers of anything. The worship was inclusive: the people of different skin colors, gender, and age had gathered to worship their God, and they were committed to that purpose. It was a typical gathering of the church, and it fulfilled its purpose of inspiring and spiritually nurturing the people.
Proctor, Samuel D. “The Pastor as Intercessor.” We Have This Ministry. Eds. Samuel D. Proctor and Gardner C. Taylor. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1996. 31-50. Print.
Smith, Christine M. ” Preaching as an Art of Resistance.” The Arts of Ministry. Ed. Christie Cozad Neuger. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996. 39-59. Print.
Willimon, William H. Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002. Print.