Volume 48 2012-13

Worship and Mission

Adrian Burdon

Based on a presentation given on the Study Day in October 2012 in Gorbals Parish Church, Glasgow, by the Revd Dr Adrian Burdon, Convener of the Liturgical Subcommittee of the Faith and Order Committee of the Methodist Church in Britain.

Defining his terms, the author quotes Bevan and Shroeder saying that mission is not an innocent word but is ultimately witness to the hope of a new heaven and a new earth. He suggests that neither is worship innocent, but a seditious, life-changing and perception-challenging expression of the life of God in the world. ‘Worship is everything’ and finds expression in many ways, but where mission is prohibited worship nevertheless sustains thc church. Much of the article is a discussion of a 2012 Methodist report on Fresh Expressions and one from the Church of Scotland in 2011. The relationship of this innovative form of mission with the existing patterns of the church is explored. One thing such projects bring is challenge to mainstream Christian communities. What God is doing is bigger than the church. God is a ‘verb, a flow, an embrace, a movement, a dance’, i.e. a relationship. Authentic liturgy heals our eyes and we are enabled to see the world as held in the holiness of God. Schmemann writes of the eucharist that ‘here we see the world in Christ as it truly is’.

John McLeod Campbell and the Theology of Absolution

Frances M Henderson

A paper given at the Study Day at Rhu (where John McLeod Campbell had been minister) in 2013 by the Revd Dr Frances M Henderson, minister of Hoddom, Kirtle-Eaglesfield, and Middlebie in the Presbytery of Annandale and Eskdale.

How real was the Prodigal Son’s repentance? This question Campbell also asked about his congregation and we may do so about ours today.  Campbell saw two approaches: the ‘hollow and hypocritical’ nature of his people’s repentance, and with this their worship was self-seeking, to ensure eternal life; and the overscrupulous approach that is full of anxiety. He saw lacking a core Calvinist doctrine, the assurance of faith, which led to a lack of joy. For Calvin, faith led to repentance. The writer goes on to discuss what should be our liturgical response to repentance, but notes that the Reformers never quite settled on how to convey this in public worship. A petition for pardon was the common response, but in the Order of Excommunication (1569), the minister said ‘I absolve thee’. She finds three types of absolution in the Book of Common Order: declaratory, precatory, and the petition for pardon, but never in its pure form. The author suggests that Adoration, Confession, and Absolution are not three separate prayers but in some sense simultaneous; but is our liturgical ordering adequate? What if we were to begin with a resounding declaration of forgiveness.

Our Living Heritage, Not Frozen Assets

Kirkpatrick and Rachel Dobie

This article reports on a scheme to record the church plate held in Church of Scotland parishes following a resolution by the General Assembly of 2001. Kirkpatrick Dobie is Consultant on Sacramental Vessels to the Committee on Church Art and Architecture (CARTA) and the Revd Rachel Dobie, who helps administer the project, is a former President of the Church Service Society. The project had the support of the Scottish Goldsmiths’ Trust and the National Museum of Scotland. Mr Dobie, being himself an expert in Scottish silver, gives a detailed account of the various styles discovered, and there are several illustrations.

‘The Gentle Poet of Loch Leven’

Douglas Galbraith

This address was given at the annual service in commemoration of Michael Bruce of Kinnesswood, a student for the ministry who died at the early age of 21 and who is thought to have provided the final versions of some of the Scottish Paraphrases. The address, by the Revd Dr Douglas Galbraith, Secretary of the Church Service Society, is based round Exodus chapter 35.

Towards 2015

James Stewart

The editor, the Revd James Stewart, in the first of a series, gives an account of the first 50 years of the life of the Church Service Society as it approaches its sesquicentenary, including the Society’s origins, some of its scholars, and the publication of succeeding editions of Euchologion, the book of services with an ancestry in the Reformation books for worship and an outcome in the modern editions of the Book of Common Order.

Music on the Website: The Wode Psalter Project

Douglas Galbraith

The Secretary of the Society, Douglas Galbraith, gives an account of the project based in the University of Edinburgh to bring together the part books of the Reformation Wode Psalter, which were scattered over several libraries, to make a full score. So that these would be available for choirs and congregations, individual psalms and other material were put on the Society’s website, where a psalm could be listened to and a score printed for use. They could also be played on instruments.

Study Day at Rhu 2013

An account of the study day in 2013, when members of the Scottish Church Society also participated. The theme was the controversy over the understanding of the Atonement associated with the name of John McLeod Campbell, minister at Rhu 1825-31, and led to an examination of the place and practice of confession and absolution in worship.