By Folu Koyi
THE components of reverential worship to God in the Anglican Communion were re-echoed yesterday by one of the leading fathers of our faith, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Samuel Sowale. He was speaking at the Synod 2019 Lecture titled: “The Acceptable Worship in the Anglican Church.” Citing Isaiah 6:1-8, he said that the approach to church services has the background of the awesomeness of God, adding, “it is therefore a serious business because worship is work,” which calls for our submission to God, “realizing our inadequacy to approach the Holy God.”
Although, we are living in a noisy and crowded world, he said we must keep silence when we are in the presence of God. “If we make noise at all, it must be joyful noise, as recommended in Psalm 100,” he remarked.
According to the bishop, the church is not an auditorium but a sanctuary which comprises the Holy of Holies, where we have the Altar Table today, and The Holy Place, where the priests and Levites offer sacrifices and praise to God (2 Chronicles 5: 11-14). In addition to these two, he said the remaining parts of the church building is the consecrated place for the people of God.
In order to have a full complement of worship, Bishop Sowale said Anglican worship must have, for morning and evening prayers, the following: Penitential introductions, exhortation, confession, absolution, praise and thanksgiving, the reading of the word, as well as prayer for both material and spiritual blessings. For worship to be complete, he said it must have all worshippers participating, including the priests, lay readers, organist, choir, wardens, vergers, acolytes, guild of stewards and the whole worshippers (1 Pet: 2-9).
Each of these components of worship, he explained, has a role to play, which the office confers on them, to ensure concordance and orderliness.
He emphasized clarity in the reading of the word, especially when reading in the native language and restated the need for rehearsal a day before service by all priests and assistants “in order to render acceptable services to our God.”
Explaining that there are two sets of worshippers, that is, the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant, he said all worshippers must participate in the singing of hymns and choruses “and also learn to dance in appreciation of what the Lord has done for us.”
The guest lecturer berated the growing habit of reading the Bible from electronic devices like the smart phone or tab, saying “we are to read the Bible from the copy of the Holy Bible at worship.”
He ended on a note of nostalgia. “It is necessary to put our priority right when we approach God in worship. The example we have in 2 Chronicles 5:13 was to the effect that the people of God begin the worship by honouring God and acknowledging His presence and goodness.” Following from this, he said our worship today should begin by acknowledging God s love. “Praise God first, then you will be prepared to present your needs to him.”