GCSE Philosophy and Ethics Full Course The Nature of Belief Module Two Key Areas… Private and public worship Christian prayer and contemplation The importance of food and fasting The architecture of Church buildings The use of music and art in worship The use of symbols Worship
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GCSE Philosophy and EthicsFull Course
The Nature of Belief
Christians feel that this time of private worship gives them a solid foundation on which to base their lives day by day
This follows a written pattern set down in a prayer book. While the Bible readings and hymns vary each service to suit the theme of the worship, the basic structure of the service stays the same each week. The familiarity of the service provides comfort, as does the continuity of the text being unaltered over centuries.
Anglican, RC and Orthodox churches mainly follow a set liturgy.
This type of worship does not follow a set order of service / liturgy. While the services may have a general structure, the form it takes varies each week. Non-Liturgical worship is likely to be Bible-centred, with an emphasis on modern hymns. There is a stronger feeling of freedom and emotion in the service. The emphasis is on participation, and anyone can lead the congregation in spontaneous prayer.
Most Christians belong to a local Church and attend services in their place of worship on Sundays. Church services mostly fall into one of two categories:
Sermon: sometimes called the ‘homily’ – is a talk given by a minister. It explains the meaning of a passage from the Bible and how people might apply it to their lives.
Prayers: they play a very important part in all Christian worship. The worshippers add ‘Amen’ at the end of the prayer. Sometimes people speak the prayer out loud.
What do you find
in most Church
Hymns: these are poetry set to music. By singing them together, worshippers are expressing a spiritual fellowship with each other.
Bible readings: this is where a Bible passage is read aloud, often by a member of the congregation.
The Lord’s prayer (Our Father - RC) is the most important of all Christian prayers. This is because it is the only one that Jesus actually taught his own disciples to use.
Our Father in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from the evil one.
This involves sprinkling holy water over the head of a young baby to indicate that he /she is being welcomed into the fellowship of the Christian Church.
RCs, Anglicans and Orthodox Churches baptise babies.
Baptists and a few other Non-Conformist Churches baptise adults who have come to believe in Jesus Christ as their saviour. Those baptised are fully immersed beneath the water. This is why the service is often called ‘baptism by immersion’.
In some Churches, services of baptism are very important. This can take 2 different forms:
Intercession: praying for other people who are in need
Adoration: praising God for his greatness
Petition: praying for their own needs
Thanksgiving: thanking God for all His good gifts. Christians believe that everything comes in/directly from God
Confession: Christians believe that they are sinners who need to ask for God’s forgiveness before they pray
‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me’
The Jesus Prayer recognises 2 things:
Who Jesus is – the Son of God. This means that Jesus had the power to help because he is divine – God himself.
We are all sinners and so need God’s help – we cannot enter God’s presence unless we have His forgiveness.
Many Christians use this prayer as a basis for their spiritual meditation, thinking deeply on the depth of meaning in each word. They say the prayer in rhythm with their own breathing so that it is muttered many times a day – almost without the person being aware of it
Christians believe that Jesus is God’s own Son and very close to Him. The favourite name that Jesus applied to God was that of ‘Father’ and he encouraged his followers to think of God in the same way. He told his disciples:
Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened. (Matt 7:7-8)
Churches dominated by the altar.
Most churches were built in the shape of a cross with the alter at the far end of the building. This was to make God seem distant, remote and Holy. A rail was placed around the alter that only the Priest could go within.
The same is seen in an Orthodox Church where God’s holiness is conveyed by a screen called the iconostasis, which hides the alter from ordinary eyes.
Holy Communion is at the centre of of RC, A & O services.
Churches dominated by the pulpit.
The alter in modern churches is now centred in the middle of the congregation and the emphasis has changed to the pulpit from the alter.
This a raised platform from which the sermon is given . Non-conformist churches tend to be very simple as the preaching of God’s word in the Bible is at the centre of their worship.
These are often called ‘chapels’.
Christians have been building churches since C3rd C.E. The design was intended to help worship and suggest certain ‘truths’ about God.
This has always played an important part in most act of Christian worship. Vocal music going back to C15th, and sung by a choir, plays an important part in services in larger churches.
Hymns have long been one of the most important forms of music in the western world.
Traditionally hymns were accompanied by an organ although now it’s more likely to be guitars, drums and pianos.
Many Christian Churches are richly decorated with art in various forms
Stained glass windows
These are used to illustrate Bible stories and different symbols that Christians might find useful in worship.
Statues of the Virgin Mary are very common in RC Churches.
Icons are characteristic of Orthodox Churches.
Christians often use symbols as language is inadequate. Over the centuries many Christian symbols have been used and they can still be seen today in many places of worship.
Cross: this is the most well known and important symbol. It reminds people of Jesus’ death on the cross and that Jesus brought them forgiveness and everlasting life.
The Chi-Rho: this is an old Christian symbol taken from 2 Greek letters, the 1st two letters of the word ‘Christ’.
The Fish: in the earliest days of Christianity in the empire, Christians were persecuted and killed. The fish was used as a sacred sign so that Christians would know that other believers were around.
Alpha and Omega: these are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. The were used to speak of God at the beginning and end of time.