There are many diverse practices within the Christian faith, of course there are! You may well expect there to be differences between traditions and denominations, less so, perhaps, between churches of the same institution. Anglican worship has a peculiarly wide-ranging character. In the city of Oxford, for example, a casual observer might stumble upon ecstatic hand waving, plainsong chants and all-age presentations all on the same Sunday!
Styles of worship may also vary in the same church from one service to another, catering for the different needs and demands(!) of worshippers over the years. The 8 O’Clock Communion is an institution in the Anglican fold, offering a sanctuary of quietness and gentility. The 8 O’Clock is traditionally traditional! The Book of Common Prayer has been a staple of this service and, more latterly, Common Worship in traditional language. No hymns are sung, the mass is said and the sermon is short. People are able to do their religion quickly and quietly without any fuss.
Today, the church has reached a life stage that some have described as ‘mission-shaped.’ This is a term that refers to the church becoming more outward-facing, involved in the community around it, going out to share the gospel. Initiatives have started to evolve which intend to bring faith to folk wherever they are at. This conjures up for me an image of a church on wheels – mobile, adaptable, exploratory, never still.
I would like to argue that there is still room for the stationary and sedate nature of an 8 O’clock in most parishes up and down the land. After the excitement and partying of Saturday night comes the Sunday morning certainty that God is present in the dawn of the sabbath day.
One thing is for certain, the Church of England would not be able to survive if it was supported by the 8 O’Clock congregations alone. Only two weeks ago, I was joined by a heavenly throng of just one mortal (but many other heavenly beings)! The early service is not well attended but it does serve an amazing purpose. It “brings to light the things hidden in darkness” (from 1 Corinthians 4). The 8 O’ Clock Eucharist is a jewel in the crown. It shines brightly and that light enables others through prayer, through silence and through the dignity of public worship to come to know God both early in the morning and throughout the centuries.
See you on Sunday… at the 8 O’ Clock, perhaps??
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Different ways of viewing Midnight Mass
We are sorry to have to cancel Midnight Mass this year. We are wanting to protect our church family and keep the church as Covid-secure as possible. However, you will be able to view Midnight Mass on television or link in to the diocesan service. Just click this link: https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19-2/livestream/video-on-demand/
The Crib Service