One of our favorite things about our time in Oklahoma this semester has been the opportunity to attend Word and Table services on (most) Sunday mornings at OKC 1st Church of the Nazarene. The services are led by our good friend, Rev. Judy Cox, and emphasize the roles that liturgy and tradition have played in Wesleyan worship services since the church's very beginning.
Our first Sunday back was a few weeks ago; the following is a brief synopsis of the liturgical worship format and content that we've come to appreciate as a supplement to our "normal" worship services. Liturgy, Judy noted, celebrates (and demands) "the work of the people...as we worship with our bodies: speaking, standing, singing, smelling, thinking, listening, eating, and drinking."
The worship service incorporated a number of different liturgical elements, including responsive readings, hymns, and Scriptural texts. We were particularly inspired by Judy's sermon, however, as she highlighted the historical background of the American Holiness movement in general and the Church of the Nazarene in particular.
John Wesley, she pointed out, simply wished to renew and reform the Anglican church; in the same way, Phineas Bresee wished to renew and reform the Methodist church. "Remembering means reliving where we have come from, and what we have believed," Judy noted. "We (Midwesterners) are not necessarily all Bible Belt Baptists," she gently pointed out. "And if we want to discuss what our church really believes, we have to go back to the Articles of Faith that it was founded on." It sounds so simple when you put it that way! :)
After sharing communally in the Prayers of the People and Passing the Peace, we joined together in praying The Great Thanksgiving before celebrating Communion together. "because we are Wesleyans, we practice an open table," Judy reminded us. "If you know that you need Jesus, you are welcome here."