Early developments – Justin Martyr and others

1. One of the best sources of information is Justin who about 155 AD wrote to explain Christian ways to others.

2. The following are the important facts of his writings and the writings of some others.
3. Baptism – “We tell those who accept Christian teaching, to promise to live the Christian life, to pray and fast for forgiveness, we ourselves praying and fasting with them. We then bring them where there is water, and they are born again, just as all we Christians have been. Washed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.....as we learn form the Apostles....

4. We then bring them to the place where other Christians are assembled. We all pray, for ourselves, for the newly baptised, and for others ever where, asking God that, as we have learn the truth, we may now show by our deeds that we are good citizens and keepers of the commandments, and so we may be saved with eternal salvation. After the prayers we greet each other as brothers.

5. After this account Justin has mentioned that the Eucharist was offered to the newly baptised. He goes on to explain that the Eucharist was offered only to the believers who are baptised.

6. Tertullian, a Roman lawyer born in Carthage in North Africa became a Christian in 195 AD. Later he became a Christian teacher, Presbyter and a writer. In his writings he has mentioned the Greek word Ichthus (Ιχθύς) meaning “fish”. This was a widely used sign among Christians, because its 5 letters could be made to represent 5 words. Most probably this would have been the 1st creed of the early Christians.

7. This sign was used in ancient Christian rings, seals, ornaments & gravestones.

8. Tertullian thinks of this sign in writing about Baptism “We Christians are little fishes, and like our Ichthus (Ιχθύς) are born in the water. The way to kill little fishes is to take them out of the water”.

Healed paralytic (Mk 2:5 – “your sins are forgiven”)

Healed paralytic (Mk 2:5 – “your sins are forgiven”)

Early Christian Communities

1. There are a few reports of church buildings in the 2nd and 3rd centuries before Christianity was accepted as a legal religion in the Roman Empire....

I. At Arbil, east of river Tigris before 148 AD.
II. In Edessa, 300 miles west of Arbil, about 180 AD when the King of Edessa became a Christian. Floods destroyed this building in 201 AD.
III. About 250 AD, there were a few churches being built, where Christians were most numerous.
In Asia Minor
In Pontus
In Syria &
In Egypt

In 250 AD, with the persecution from the Roman Empire, which was Empire wide, Christians lost their buildings.

2. In 1934 AD at Dura-Europos ( a Roman frontier fortress) one house church was unearthed, which was under the sand.

3. This house was built before 100 AD, and in 232 AD this house was altered and made more suitable for services. This was done by removing one inner wall between two rooms.

4. In this large room a platform was built for the altar.

5. In a smaller room a shallow stone bath was built to baptise new converts.

6. The following pictures have been painted on the baptistery wall.

a. Central picture – the Good Shepherd bringing a sheep to the flock ( Jn 10:14-16
On the side walls :-
b. Healed paralytic (Mk 2:5 – “your sins are forgiven”)
c. Jesus taking Peter from the water into the boat ( Matt.14:31 - the boat represents the Church)
d. The woman with her water pot at Jacob’s well ( Jn 4:10 – “living water”)
e. The 3 women at the empty tomb ( Mk 16 & Rom 6:4 – “ as Christ was raised, we too......walk in newness of life” )

 The early Christian Communities – house churches

1. Three great events in the early church took place in a Jerusalem house.

I. The Lord's Supper – Mk 14:12-26
II. The appearance of Jesus to his disciples after resurrection – In 20:14-29...
III. The coming of the Holy Spirt – Acts 2

2. Do these passages refer to the same house?

I. Mk mentions it having a large guest-room with an upstairs. Mk 14:14-15
II. After the Ascension, the Disciples “returned......and went to the upper room where they were staying - Acts 1:12-13. It seems that this was a big room where 120 could stay.
III. Acts 2 begins with the Twelve “all together in one place” – no change of place is mentioned.
IV. St. John’s gospel merely says, “ the doors being shut where the disciples were” – Jn 20:19

3. So the 3 passages probably do refer to the same house.

4. When Peter escaped from the prison he came to Jerusalem house where other Christians were praying. The servant girl of that house Rhoda, could recognize Peter’s voice. So most probably Peter would have had been a frequent visitor to that house. Acts 12.

5. This is one of the vivid stories of Lk’s gospel. Perhaps Lk received this story from Rhoda herself.

6. We know the name – not only the servant of this house : but also the owner of this house. She was Mary the mother of John whose other name was Mark.

7. According to St. Mark’s gospel when Jesus was arrested a young man who followed Jesus ran away naked leaving his linen cloth – Mk 14:51 – we find this record only in St. Mk’s gospel.

8. Perhaps this young man was Mark himself who followed Jesus to the place of Jesus’ arrest after Last Supper.

9. Some house churches mentioned in the New Testament

I. At Philippi – Acts 16:40
II. At Corinth – Acts 18:7
III. At Rome – Rom. 16:5/16:14
IV. At Ephesus – 1 Cor. 16:19
V. At Laodicea – Col. 4:15

10. Not only throughout the NT period, even in the 2nd Century most of the Christians worshipped in these house churches.



Early Christian Communities

1. Sunday Worship

Justin describes the worship in house churches
“On the day called Sunday there is a meeting for all in one place, according to the city or countryside where one lives. ...
The memories of the Apostles, or the writings of the prophets are read as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the President in a sermon, calls us to imitate these good things. Then we all stand and pray”

2. Preaching

Some words of Irenaeus, who was the Bishop of Lyons in Gaul(France) from 177-200 AD.
Preaching of an aged Bishop, Polycarp in a house church at Smyrna,
“Lessons received as a boy make an impression which becomes part of the mind, and the impression remains, growing as the mind grows. So I can remember the very place where the blessed Polycarp, sitting down, used to preach; his coming out and going in; his bodily appearance; and the talks which he used to make for his congregation. He used to talk of his going about with John, and with others who had seen the Lord, about their sayings, this and that which he had heard from them about the Lord, about His mighty acts and teaching”

I. In this house church the preacher sat, as Christ did in the Synagogue at Nazareth. ( Luke 4:20-21)

II. “Coming out and going in” probably from some side room of the house and back again after service.

3. Death and burial

In the 1st century itself, in some places Christian did own land for the graves of their dead. It was a usual custom in the Roman Empire for people to get to gather in order to secure lands for graves. Therefore under these circumstances it was not difficult for Christians to have a place of burial or a graveyard. In this period graves were the only property of the church. Among these graves are found the earliest Christian sculpture. The favourite figure to be found on them is that of the Good Shepherd, bringing home the sheep on his shoulder.

These teachings come from Origen, written in Caesarea, about the year 236AD

HOW TO PRAY – Settle your mind. Put yourself in the presence of God and act as though God was there looking at you. Then you will hear the reply from God, “ Here am I” ( Isa 58:9). This is the greatest answer to your prayers, to know the presence of God.

WHEN TO PRAY – We are told to pray always..., because the good life is a prayer. Yet at 3 times a day. (Dan.3:10) Morning - Ps 5:3 : Noon - Ps10:9 : Evening Ps141:2

WHAT TO PRAY – Pray for yourselves, pray for others, and give thanks. Remember to ask for greatest things ( Matt 6:33)

THE BEST POSITION – The position is to stand, hands held out, and eyes looking up.
Kneeling is right, when you are asking God’s forgiveness. But you may sit and pray ( if you have a physical difficulty)
Sometimes you may not bother about the position at all (Ex: at sea, or in a crowd)

PLACE OF PRAYER – Any place can be the right place

Christian Worship – New Testament Times
Influence of the Jewish Synagogue (and Jerusalem Temple)

1. The worship of Israel stands beside Christian worship – basis of both is the action of God in history.

2. First Christians were orthodox Jews who continued to worship in Jerusalem Temple and synagogues.
3. In the early church, worship in the Temple was possible up to 70AD till the distraction of the Temple.

4. Therefore Temple did not have direct influence on the Christian worship after 70 AD.

5. Yet in the development of Eucharistic doctrine Jewish sacrificial idea had its influence.

6. Psalms, the hymns of Temple came into Christian worship through the Synagogue where they were chanted antiphonally.

7. The hours of prayer mentioned in the book of Acts in the Bible are the hours of prayer in the synagogue.

8. “Holy, Holy, Holy” the Sanctus which became a universal element in Eucharist may have been influenced by the Kedushah or Sanctification of the name of God which occurs in three places in the synagogue worship.

9. The shape of the Eucharist has its connection with the ritual of Jewish meals.

10. “Amen” is the most widespread Jewish influence on the Christian worship which occurs at the end of Christian and Jewish prayers.



Early developments

The Eucharist

Justin martyr & Irenaeus
1. According to Justin (c 155 AD) the Eucharist, which, after the scripture reading, preaching and prayers was the crown of the Sunday worship....

2. “Bread is brought to the president, and wine mixed with water. He says a Prayer of thanksgiving as he is able, and the congregation says Amen, which is Hebrew for ‘May it be so’. The deacons give the bread and wine to all present, and take it to those absent.

3. Those who are well off, and who want to do so, give to the collection. This is placed with the president, and he takes care of orphans, widows, and those ill or otherwise in need, those in prison , and strangers who are staying here. In fact, he becomes the helper of who are in need.

4. Justin continues,
“ Only believes, who have received the washing of forgiveness of rebirth, and who as Christ has taught, can receive this food – the bread and wine – which is called Eucharist. For it is to us, not just bread and wine. Jesus Christ became flesh and blood to save us. And we are taught that this food, blessed by prayer of words for Him, is the flesh and blood, blessed by prayer of words from Him, is the flesh and blood of Jesus who became flesh”

5. Explanations of some of the words used by Justin

I. Eucharist – Justin says the food is called Eucharist. But what he means is the whole service. [ Eucharistia – is thanksgiving is Greek : 1 Cor. 11:24]

II. Wine mixed with water – At the time of Jesus poorer people added water to their wine at meal times, as many people in Mediterranean countries still do today. So probably this was done at the first Lord’s Supper.

III. As well as he is able – at this time the prayer of thanksgiving or Eucharist prayer, was not yet in one form, except for “ the prayer of words from Him” ( 1 Cor. 11:23-25).

IV. Blessed by a Prayer – Eucharisted – a new Christian word.

V. Of words from Him (Christ) – The words of institution from 1 Cor. 11:23-25. Justin quotes them. Down the centuries, and across the world, these words are central in the Eucharist.

VI. Not just bread and wine – Similarly Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons (177-200 AD) has also explained the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“ We offer to God the things which are His........Bread comes from the earth, but, offered to God, it is no longer just bread. It is now something heavenly, as well as earthly. So our bodies, which will die, receiving the Eucharist, have the hope of the life eternal”

VII. Both statements are based on Scripture
1. Justin – This is my body.....This is my blood ( 1 Cor. 11:23-25)
2. Irenaeus - “ I am the bread of life” ( Jn. 6:35)



Development of liturgies - Liturgy of Serapion

339 - 362 AD

1. He was bishop of Thmuis, a little town in lower Egypt, between 339 – 362 AD.

2. The manuscript of this book was found in a monastery on Mount Athos in 1894 AD....

3. This would have been a collection of bishop’s private prayers.

4. There is no coherent order about them and rubrics are lacking.

5. He had borrowed from Didache, thinking perhaps that it was apostolic in authorship – He takes the passage, “as this bread has been scattered on the mountain”..... and inserts it into the narrative of the Institution between words concerning the bread and the cup.

6. The influence of Alexandria can be seen in the Greek rhetorical style with which the prayer is adorned at the beginning.

7. The opening address before preface in more than 200 words.

8. The characteristic of Greek theology of this time was the negative attributes of God, unsearchable, ineffable, incomprehensible by any created substance.

9. There is a clear concern to exalt the son to guard against Aryanism.

10. The remembrance of the redemption through Christ is absent. Only a very brief remembrance of the passion is found with the words of Institution.

11. The offering of the elements comes before the narrative of the Institution.
12. Epiklesis – Differs from later liturgies. Invocation is addressed to the logos (Word) & not to the Spirit,

“ O God of Truth, let thy Holy Word come upon this bread, that the bread may become the body of the Word, and upon this cup that the cup may become the blood of Truth.......”

13. This shows the Alexandrian doctrine of Logos (Eastern).

14. The concept of the Epiklesis as the prayer of the consecration of the elements.

Origins of Christian Worship
The Old Testament Times (OT)

1. The influence of the OT on the origins of the Christian Worship is indirect rather than direct, theological rather than liturgical.

2. In the formation of the Christian Worship, the knowledge of God as Lord in the history became the base.
3. According to Exodus 23:14-17 in Israel three festivals were held annually.
I. Feast of Unleavened bread
II. Harvest
(held in the spring at the beginning and the end of grain harvest)
III. Feast of in-gathering
(held in the Autumn, at the end of the fruit gathering season)

4. When Israelites settled in Palestine they celebrated these 3 festivals as a way of worshipping God.

5. The feast of Passover was held at the same time as that of Unleavened bread, and the two became one major festival.

6. The feast of harvest became Pentecost, which commemorated the giving of the Law at mount Sinai.

7. Feast of in-gathering became the feast of Booths or tents which commemorated the Israelites wandering in the wilderness.

8. Here we see how the worship of Israelites, based on natural seasons moved on to historical or rather theological interpretation of history with their understanding of the character and purpose of God.

9. In the Christian Worship Passover got reinterpreted with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

10. The Jewish Pentecost became meaningful in the Christian Worship with the outpouring of the Holy Spirt.

11. When Israelites commemorated the wandering in the wilderness on the feast of Booths or tents the worshipper said “ a wandering Aramaean was my father, and went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number.......and the Lord brought us out of Egypt......”

12. By celebrating this feast they commemorated God's saving action. This was not just remembrance of a past historical event. When they said that, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, they really lived in that event.

13. The above way of commemoration influenced the Christian celebration of Eucharist.

14. In Israel's worship there was a ministry of the Word as well as a ministry of Sacrifice.

15. The church has inherited this in the form of its ministry of the Word which stands beside the ministry of the Sacrament.

Basic theology of worship

1. Lex orandi lex credendi : we believe according as we worship. Worship is primary – Theology is secondary.

2. Theology is often incredible because worship is neglected.

3. On the other hand it should be emphasised that theology has a most important function to fulfil in relation to worship. Theology must prune worship of all that is foreign to Christian truth....

4. So that those who worship with their hearts may worship with their understanding also.

5. The aims and methods of the theology of worship emerge in considering 4 primary facts.

I. Worship both forms and expresses human beings in their Christian faith.

II. There is a recognisable “canon” of fundamental elements comprising the worship which undergirds all historical developments - initiation rites : the Eucharist : the daily prayer office : and the various cycles of time which patterns the use of scripture and the remembered history of God’s acts.

III. The immense array of historical developments in Jewish and Christian liturgy is not of equal value and significance for present theological or liturgical usage.

IV. The current cultural and ecumenical situation forces the question of norms and criteria for adequacy and authenticity of the church’s worship.

6. In recent work the key concepts used for the theology of worship is as follows :-

a. Remembering - anamnesi
b. Invocation - epiclesis
c. Thanksgiving - eucharistia
d. Blessing and Praise - berakah
e. Offering - oblatio
f. Sacrifice - sacrificium

Main characteristics and elements of Christian Worship
කිතුණු නමස්කාරයේ ප්‍රධාන අංග සහ ගුණාංග

1. Worship embraces the whole life.
නමස්කාරය ජීවිතය වැළඳ ගනී.

2. Worship is our response to God the Ultimate reality who is everywhere present and active in His Universe....
නමස්කාරය යනු සැමතැන වැඩවසන හා ක්‍රියාකරන දෙවිසමිදුන් නැමැති සදාතන සත්‍යයට අපගේ ප්‍රථිචාරයයි.

3. Yet God reveals to His people at particular times, particular places and particular situations.
ඵහෙත් දෙවිසමිදුන් විවිධ කාල, ස්ථාන සහ අවස්ථා වලදී මනුෂ්‍යයන්ට ඵළිදරව් වේ.

4. Human beings in their approach to God in worship use rituals & ceremonies.
මනුෂ්‍යයන් දෙවිසමිදුන්ට සමීප වීමට නමස්කාරය තුළ චාරිත්‍ර සහ සැමරුම් භාවිතා කරයි.

Rites and rituals - form of words, not excluding actions.
චාරිත්‍ර සහ විධික්‍රම - ක්‍රියා මගනොහරිමින් වචන රටාවන් භාවිතය.

Ceremonies - outward actions accompanied by words.
සැමරුම් - වචන රටාවන්ගෙන් ඔපවත් වූ බාහිර ක්‍රියා.

5. These rituals and ceremonies are used to inspire people to have a livings spiritual experience in worship.
මෙම චාරිත්‍ර සහ සැමරුම් භාවිතා වන්නේ මනුෂ්‍යයන්ට නමස්කාරය තුල ජිවමාන ආධ්‍යාත්මික අත්දැකීමක් ලබා දීමටයි.

6. But it these rituals & ceremonies are separated from any spiritual experience, then these rituals and ceremonies become old customs of the past.
ඵහෙත් මෙම චාරිත්‍ර සහ සැමරුම් ආධ්‍යාත්මික අත්දැකීමෙන් තොර වූ විට ඵ්වා හුදු පුරාණ විධික්‍රම බවට පත් වේ.

7. When the worship is separated from morality God sends His Spirit on a prophet to purify worship ( not to abolish worship )
නමස්කාරය සදාචාරයෙන් තොර වූ විට දෙවිසමිදුන් දිවැසිවරකු මත තම ආත්මය වගුරවමින් නමස්කාරය පාරිශූද්ධ කරන සේක.

8. As human beings we use senses for communication. So in the fullness of Christian Worship senses should be used in a meaningful manner.
මනුෂ්‍යයන් නමස්කාරය සදහා ඉන්ද්‍රියයන් භාවිතා කරයි. ඵ් නිසා පූර්ණ කිතුණු නමස්කාරය තුල ඉන්ද්‍රියයන් අර්ථවත්ව භාවිතා කලයුතු වේ.
Senses - ඉන්ද්‍රියයන්
Eye - ඇස
Ear - කණ
Nose - නාසය
Tongue - දිව
Body - ශරීරය
Mind - හිත

9. The main aspects of ordinary Christian Worship
සාමාන්‍ය කිතුණු නමස්කාරයෙ මූලික අංග
Praise - ප්‍රසංශාව
Thanksgiving - ස්තුතිදීම
Intercessions - මැදහත් යැදුම්
Confession - මනස්තාපය
Petitions - ඉල්ලීම්

Christian Worship - ක්‍රිස්තියානි නමස්කාරය
Individual and corporate - පුද්ගලික සහ සාමූහික

1. Worship is not something individual which can be isolated from the community.
නමස්කාරය යනු සමාජයෙන් හුදකලා කල හැකි පෞද්ගලික අංගයක් නොවේ

2. Fresh developments in worship may begin with a vision of an individual; but if that vision is to alter the course of human life, it must be passed on to the co...mmunity at large through some corporate religious activity.
පුද්ගලයකුගේ දර්ශනය තුලින් නව අංග වර්ධනය වියහැකි වුවත් ඵයින් මනුෂ්‍ය ක්‍රියාකාරිත්වය සංශෝධනය වීමට නම් ඵය ජන සමාජයට සාමූහික ආධ්‍යාත්මික ක්‍රියාකාරිත්වයක් තුලින් ගමන් කල යුතු වෙයි

(a) Abraham’s individual experience of God was passed on to the people of God
දෙවිසමිදුන් සමග ඇතිවූ අබ්රහම්ගේ පුද්ගලයකඅත්දැකීම දේව ජනතාවගේ අත්දැකීම විය
(b) Moses was with the people & with the experience of burning Bush he met God in a special way.
මෝසෙස් ජනතාව සමග සිටි අතර දැවෙන පදුරේ අත්දැකීම තුලින් දෙවි සමිදුන්ව විශේෂ ආකාරයකින් මුන ගැසෙන ලදි

3. On the last night before Jesus was crucified by instituting the Lord's Supper He said “ Do this in remembrance of me”
ජේසුස් වහන්සේ කුරුසි පත්වූ දිනට පෙර දින රාත්‍රීයේ රාත්‍රී භෝජනය ස්ථාපිත කරමින් මෙසේ වදාරණ ලදි "මා සිහිකරමින් මෙය සිදු කරන්න"

4. Here we see how the experience of a vision and a reality of an individual led to new depths in corporate worship.
මෙයින් අපට පැහැදිලි වන්නේ පුද්ගලයකුගේ යථාර්තයේ දර්ශනය සාමූහික නමස්කාරය නව ගැඹුරක් කරා ගෙන ගිය ආකාරය යි.

A Very short introduction to the Worship in the Anglican Church
© Keerthisiri Fernando

Introduction and Background
Primarily the worship in the Anglican Church depends on the very nature of the Anglicans as Reformed and Catholic. Therefore in its worship it is evident that the three pillars of the Anglican Church namely the Scripture, Tradition and Reason are taken seriously. First and foremos...t the Anglican worship depends on sound scriptural foundation. This foundation is enriched by the traditions of the church throughout the ages by comprehending God as the God of history. The scripture and traditions are implemented in the present context on human reason to keep the worship both emotional and intelligent to make it relevant to the everyday life of people.

Life and Worship
Anglicans firmly believe that the worship embraces whole life. Therefore the worship is done by using all senses of humans (sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch) appropriately to adore God who is the ultimate reality. In this regard, today, to enrich the traditional three pillars of the Anglican Church many Anglicans take experiences and various cultures of people equally important in formulating and practising worship in their everyday life.

Word and Sacraments
This is liturgically done in two main components of the worship called the ministry of the word and the sacrament. In the ministry of the word, God’s Word is explored through the human word by using God given wisdom. This is accomplished by using human words, by starting with a text of God’s word and then relating it to human context and vice versa. Here the emphasis is on human words accompanied by signs and symbols. Ministry of the sacrament enables the people to receive God’s grace through outward signs. Like other Protestants we Anglicans accept the two sacraments instituted by our Lord Himself, Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. Also it is generally accepted by some Anglicans that there are other five sacraments namely Confession, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Holy Unction, which are also traditionally called sacraments by the church. The others call them institutions according to the Article 25 of the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church. There are some other Anglicans who would go a step further and say that there is a sacramental nature in all created things respectively in the world.

Individual and Corporate
In every Anglican worship people are advised to have a balance between the main aspects of worship, Praise, Thanksgiving, Confession, Intercession, and Petition. All these aspects are derived from the Bible and taken theologically and implemented contextually. It is the Anglican view that the corporate and individual nature of the worship should be handled with a proper balance and tension to comprehend the place of the individual in the community and the place of the community for the individual in the salvation history of God.

Liturgical Calendar
Anglicans follow the annual liturgical calendar comprising all festivals of the church. The pivotal movable festival of the calendar is Easter, which is the festival of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is the foundation of the Christian church as well.

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