THE CHRISTIAN WORSHIP AS ACCEPTED AND PRACTICALIZED IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF NIGERIA IN THIS PRESENT AGE
In Christianity, worship is considered the central act of Christian identity, the purpose of which is to give honour to God.
Throughout most of church history, Christian worship has been primarily liturgical characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to the scripture particularly the Psalter. The very term liturgy is derived from the Greek Litaneia meaning petition, supplication. Responsorial prayers are a series of petitions read or sung by a leader with responses made by congregation. Set times for prayer during the day were established (based substantially on Jewish models), and a festal cycle throughout the church year governed the celebration of feasts and holy days pertaining to the events in the life of Jesus, the lives of the saints and aspects of the church’s perception of God.
A great deal of emphasis was placed on the forms of worship, as they were seen in terms of the Latin Phrase lex orandi, lex credendi (“the rule of prayer is the rule of belief)”, – that is, the specifies of one’s worship express, teach, and govern the doctrinal beliefs of the community. To alter the patterns and content of worship were to change the faith itself. Thus, even though there was always a certain amount of variety in the early church’s liturgical worship, there was also a great deal of unity. Each time a heresy arose in the church, was accompanied by a shift in worship for the heretical group. Orthodoxy in faith also meant orthodoxy in worship, and vice versa. Thus, unity in Christian worship was understood to be a fulfillment of Jesus’ words that the time was at hand when true worshippers would worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
The earliest development of Christian worship is documented in the New Testament and church Fathers and seems to be liturgical. The Holy Eucharist was the central act of worship in early Christianity. The Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles present the very early Christians, then still very much a part of the Jewish scenes as frequently, both the temple and synagogues, as well as worshipping in private homes, frequently to “break bread, a term which connotes both the sharing of an agape meal, and celebrating the Eucharist. Acts 2:42 present the very early church of Jerusalem as “continuing in the Apostles teaching and fellowships, the breaking of breads and the prayers”. Psalms and hymns based on them were a regular feature of Jewish worship in the synagogues continued into the early Catholic Church.
The study of Christian worship in this context shall be narrowed down to that which is accepted and practiced in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria (P.C.N.) today. It shall also look at the main of Christian worship in the P.C.N. and the controversies, which exist between the contemporary way of worship and the medieval mode of worship.
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
It is common knowledge that the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria has its own laid down order of worship. Yet today, new items have been introduced into the order of worship to replace some of the ones that had originally existed. One of which is the contemporary music introduced to replace the hymn before the sermon.
In view of this new developments, a lot of controversies have been generated thus, it is about of age when we took a critical look at these new developments and iron them out.
1.3 Aims And Objective of Research
The main aim and objective of this write-up is to re-appraise the Christian worship as accepted and practicalized in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria in this present age.
- Significance of Study
Considering the fact that most of the practices in the Presbyterian Church have been widely accepted world over even by other churches, this study is expected to add value to this method of reverencing the Creator of the universe.
- The Scope of Study
In an attempt to achieving the aim and objective of this study, some of the reformations, which took place in the Presbyterian worship, shall be looked into including the theology of worship in the Presbyterian Church. Moreso, this study shall outline some of the practices in our contemporary worship and also some of the controversies surrounding them, and then make some conclusions and recommendations from the discoveries, which will be made in the course of this study.
This research is basically carried out by way of reviewing some religious materials that are worship related. These materials, which are gathered from different sources, also include the Book of Services of Presbyterian Church of Nigeria. Also, to give the research a religious and spiritual touch, is the foundational backing with the words in the Holy Bible together with some divine and spiritual insight.
1.7 Literature Review
In this part, it is important to give a proper definition to the term worship.
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2009) worship usually refers to acts of religious devotion typically directed to one or more deities. It is the informal term in English for what sociologist of religion call cultus, which is one of the chief concerns of theology.
An act of worship may be performed individually, within informal groups, or as part of a formal meeting. Religious worships occurs in a variety of locations including houses, rented venues, out in the open, or in purpose-built structures identified as places of worship.
Underhill (1911) defines worship thus: “The adoring acknowledgement of all that lies beyond us – the glory that fills heaven and earth. It is the response that conscious beings make to their creator, to the Eternal Reality from which they came forth; to God however they may think of Him or recognize Him and whether He be realized through religion, through nature, through history, through science, art or human life and character.”
Hence, it can be seen that, worship is a very vital aspect of Christian living. It offers well meaning Christians the opportunity to adore and ascribe glory to God, the creator. It creates the atmosphere with which mortals (humans) are linked up and can communicate with the one and only Immortal. Thus, the worship session or aspect of Christian living should be held in a very high esteem especially in the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria irrespective of any geographical region or political power and without fear or favour from any man, but worship should be done with uttermost holiness and reverence to the one who is Holy and Perfect.