The Worship Experiment, Week 16

Carlisle Cathedral
21 March, 10:30am

Carlisle Cathedral at Christmas

I attended the Cathedral’s weekly Service of Holy Communion. The service is thoroughly Anglican and high-church, but from what I understand, and unusually, this church is evangelical. The choir consists of all men and boys, similar to other high churches, and they sing the Litany, Psalm of the day, congregational hymns, Sanctus, the song during Communion, and the Motet, as well as a daily (except Saturday) Evensong.

Though this type of church is not one I would want to call home for various reasons, least of all being that it is too formal and impersonal, it was beautiful. The service was structured as follows:

We Gather
Collect of the Day

We Hear the Word
Old Testament reading
New Testament reading
Gospel reading

We Affirm our Faith
Nicene Creed

We Pray for Others

We Confess
Moment of silence for confession Prayer of Penitence
Proclamation of God’s forgiveness

We Celebrate
Passing of the Peace
Offertory hymn

We take (bread and wine placed on the altar and we say, “All things come from You, and ofYour own do we give You.”)

We give thanks (litanies, Sanctus, other words)
The Lord’s Prayer

We break
(the President breaks the consecrated bread)

We share (partake of the Lord’s Supper)
The Motet

We Are Sent Out
Prayer after Communion Blessing
Final hymn

There are a couple of impressions I would like to mention. One is that I was surprised at the relative friendliness. I was greeted as I came in the door and helped to find a seat. When I have visited a church like this in the past, the greeting has been very utilitarian; this one was genuine. The passing of the peace lasted for a few minutes, similar to St. James’. The congregation will come out of their way to greet you; not just the four or five people around them.

The sermon was fifth of a five-part series on the Eucharist; this section was on the Eucharist as Penitence—in terms of repentance. In it, the Very Reverend Mark Boyling said that repentance is more than confessing one’s sin, but it means turning around entirely and going the other direction. I wondered if St. Paul’s or Westminster would have a sermon like that. He also mentioned that during Lent, the church changes the place of confession in the liturgy from the beginning to after the intercessions. When it is at the beginning, it is meant to remind us that confession is always before us and always necessary. When it is later, it is so that our mindset is more reflective. I must say that having it after this particular sermon made it much more meaningful and possibly allowed the Holy Spirit to convict is response to the sermon. A regular part of the liturgy, but one more contemporary churches tend to breeze by, is the proclamation of God’s forgiveness. After this time of confession, it is really good to remind us that God has forgiven us. I think we should take this to heart and practice this more often. It also made Communion more meaningful— after the time of reflection and assurance of pardon, we were reminded that Christ’s blood was shed so that we could be forgiven.

Having had visited many cathedrals in my time here, I have been reminded that these spectacular houses of worship were constructed to remind us of the greatness of God. Having this so tangibly, as you are sitting in this amazing work of art, and having recently read in Exodus about the construction of the tabernacle, I was reminded of God’s awesome power. This morning, I experienced both awe of God’s transcendence and the personal nature of His immanence, specifically that shown in Christ’s being one of us.

The Cathedral from my vantage point

Spring time at Carlisle Cathedral

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