The Reality of Worship

The Lecture given at the Annual Meeting of the Society, 1967, by Professor J G Davies, MA, DD, Edward Cadbury Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Worship and Religious Architecture, University of Birmingham

The reality of worship relates to its intelligibility and relevance to human existence. Church vocabulary seems outdated to modern people. Most acts of worship are church centred and not outward looking and this gives it an air of unreality. Forms of Communion are also removed from every day eating and drinking. The problem is to rediscover the unity of the sacred and the secular. Christ is a man for others and worship not for others is unChristian. The church needs to listen to, amongst others, sociologists, dramatists, and journalists to help it to understand society. Parallels are drawn between modern ‘special’ meals e.g. a birthday meal, a rotary club lunch and how these forms could translate into a eucharist, bearing in mind some degree of stylisation is essential. Perhaps regular small group worship with occasional celebrations in large cathedral type buildings is a way forward. Social change and increased mobility means a parish structure is less suited to relating to modern lifestyles. Flexibility will be required to aid worshippers to encounter God in their person to person communion. If Christ is to be known in the breaking of bread then it must be done in accord with the pattern of today’s human behaviour. Transcendence is known in and through the immanent.

Volume 38 1968, p3
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