Saturday, 1 February 2014

St John's Anglican Cathedral Parramatta

Date: 19 January 2014

8am Service                       

Service Type: AAPB 2nd Order Holy Communion     
Worship Leader: Rev’d Bruce Morrison 
Numbers: 70 -80 attended Demographic: a spread of ages and ethnic groups
Music: traditional hymns sung well, accompanied by organ
Readings: Two readings: Isaiah and Hebrews. Hebrews was read as the Gospel reading.
After the Gospel, the Creed was said and then the sermon (1662 order)
Sermon: Delivered by the Rector of the Parish. (20-25 minutes long)
About listening to God through reading the bible. Well delivered but a little controversial in substance. (see later)
The Communion: The communion was led by the Rector at the communion table. Then we were invited forward to traditional altar rails to take communion. I filed up in my turn and found at the steps of the sanctuary trays of little cups - one tray labelled 'grape juice' another 'wine'. I took the bread and wine at the altar rails then  returned to my seat. Essentially, there were three options for taking communion, cup of wine, cup of juice, chalice of wine. Also, a second communion station was set up in the transept side at the east end of the nave.
After Communion: There was a hymn, with an offering plate circulated, then a final prayer and the service ended.
After the Service: The whole service was about an hour. After the service one of the lay ministers in robes approached me and talked with me and introduced me to the clergy. I talked with the Rector about the Hebrews reading. I said it was an odd choice for a gospel reading. He said he always tried to make sure there was an Old Testament Reading and a New Testament one sat every service. 
 I stayed then for the second 9:30 am service.

General Comments: This was a traditional service and used no contemporary technology. The pews were hard wooden and the furnishings very old world which was a mark of the building built in 1852. All the Worship leaders were in robes, and the clergy well dressed in clergy collars and suits. 

9:30 am service

Service Type: Family service
Worship Leader: Rev'd Tom Harricks
Numbers: 120- 130.
Demographic: many young families, a large number of children, almost 50% Asian people. 

Readings: Isaiah and Hebrews again, Hebrews read as the Gospel.
Sermon: Rev'd Bruce Morrison More lucid at this service - exactly 23 minutes. 
Flow of liturgy: informal welcome, scripture sentence, children's talk (on John 4: only gospel paraphrased for the morning) led by laywoman and done very well, Notices, interview with student minister, interview with various people regarding coming events (strange extended break in the service) intercessions followed by lay woman - delivered very well and with reference to many current news items and issues, Reading of Isaiah, then Hebrews (readers were excellent), then sermon ( exactly the same as the previous service read from written text), hymns and songs used well a band played which was very enjoyable, communion followed as at early service, final song and then prayer and then the service was finished.
After the Service: 

Talked to a lovely lay woman after the service who looked after us.
Extra Comments:
The use of technology was very good - the screens unfurled for use and disappeared when not in use. It allowed the traditional building to look contemporary for the younger group and traditional for the older one. Very slick. Pews were wood and hard, the service was on paper and on the screen, and bibles in the pews to follow the text during the reading and preaching.

General Reflections and Recommendations


Concerns and compliments about this Anglican Community
1. This community has a long history in an historic building and I think they make the most of both their heritage for their older community members and their resources for contemporary worship. The use of technology was impressive. The Building was impressive in its own right, and has been well looked after.
2. The use of robes and clergy collars made the leadership of services much easier to follow. Rev Tom Harricks was in shirt and tie which detracted from the traditional clerical attire worn by other clergy. Distinctive clothing might be seen as anachronistic, but it still works for the police, nurses, pilots, armed forces, airline workers and many other professions.
3. The use of grape juice at communion is still a poor and unnecessary option for Anglicans. People who have trouble with wine, should just take the Bread only.  Communion in 'one kind' is considered full communion in the Anglican Tradition and Canon Law.
4. I didn't appreciate notices in the middle of a service that went for 8-10 minutes.
5. Christian leaders must know that readings from the Epistles as the Gospel for the day is a poor effort. There should always be a reading from the life of Jesus. This has been the tradition of the church, and you would think a community that wants to grow close to Jesus, would want to hear his words and listen to his actions as recorded in the gospels every time they met.
6. What happened to the Book of Psalms? The Anglican church has made a routine of reciting psalms at Sunday worship for 400 years. Now it seems to have stopped. What does it mean that evangelical churches have given up the Psalter?
7. The Rector preached and did a pretty good job. I did  have one concern. He addressed the Isaiah reading saying that Isaiah wrote 150 years before the events he predicted. First, this is not true. Second Isaiah, which the Rector doesn't seem to acknowledge, was written just as the events described were finishing. To state that prophecy in the bible implies prediction of future events is to misunderstand the genre completely. If we read Lawrence Boadt or Gerhard Von Rad they remind us that prophecy is about speaking the truth from God to the people of God. It is this uncompromising judgement and quest for justice that makes the prophet's ministry so valuable and the prophet's lot so awful. Isaiah doesn't need miraculous powers of prognostication to make his work inspired. Other than this point, i felt he preached with passion and with integrity.

SCORECARD

Welcome: 4/5
liturgical sense: 4/10
Music: 8/10
Technology Use: 4/5
Sacramental aptitude: 6/10
Building look and comfort: 4/5
Children Friendly: 4/5
Anglican-like Worship: 7/10

OVERALL: 41/60 OR 68%

John Gumbley