The Church as Community

In the exodus event, God created a people and brought them into a covenant relationship. The covenant specified that Israelite worshipers display loyalty and faithfulness both to Yahweh, the King of the covenant, and to their fellow Israelites covenanted to that same King. In a corresponding way, God has created a people through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; these people are bound together with him and with one another in a new covenant community. Jesus’ commandment for this community, or church, is that they love him with their entire being, and their covenant brothers as themselves. It is out of this relationship with God and one’s fellow believers that worship arises. Biblical worship is intended as a corporate expression of the covenant relationship.

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A Reformation Model of Worship: John Calvin, The Form of Church Prayers, Strassburg Liturgy (1545)

Although there is considerable diversity within the Reformed community, it is fair to say that the ideas of John Calvin strongly influenced Reformed worship practice. Calvin’s Strassburg Liturgy is presented below.

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African-American Worship in the Post-Reformation Period

Churches in the African-American community share a distinct worship culture that is the result of the integration of Christian worship forms with a worldview shaped by a traditional African ontology (understanding of being). In addition to the African heritage and religious perspective, the experience of blacks in American slavery has also helped to shape African-American worship patterns.

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Roman Catholic Worship from the Council of Trent to Vatican II

The Council of Trent (1545–1563) initiated a period of liturgical standardization in the Roman Catholic church. Catholic worship remained largely uniform throughout the world until the appearance of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (1963).

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The Early Celtic Liturgy

Celtic liturgies show the wide-ranging influence of the Irish missionary-monks, who tended to appropriate liturgical elements from all parts of the Greek and Latin churches. The Celtic liturgy emphasizes a strong personal relationship with Christ and with the Trinity.

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The Ambrosian Liturgy

The Ambrosian, or Milanese, liturgy shared common features with both Western and Eastern rites and served as a link between them. A central feature of the Ambrosian liturgy is its Christocentric nature, reflecting an ongoing struggle with Arian influence. Never suppressed by ecclesiastical authorities, the Ambrosian liturgy continues in use today.

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The Early Gallican Liturgy

Great diversity evidently existed in the liturgies used in southern Gaul. Lack of documentation, however, makes it difficult to reconstruct some parts of the liturgy. By the ninth century, the Gallican liturgy had become fused with the Roman rite. The spread of Roman influence is clearly shown by early Gallican sources.

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The Early North African Liturgy

It is thought that North Africa was the birthplace of Latin Christianity. Because of Muslim expansion, however, the church did not survive in North Africa beyond the eighth century. Since no actual texts of the ancient North African liturgy are extant, the outline of the rite can only be reconstructed from other sources.

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