Liturgy of Saint James

Liturgy of Saint James

October 23 is the feast day for Saint James of Jerusalem.  Accordingly, we will be using the ancient "Liturgy of St. James" for our worship on Sunday, October 22. The Liturgy of Saint James is thought to be the oldest Christian liturgy which we still have. Come prepared to encounter Christ in a new, yet ancient, way. Everyone is welcome.  

About the Liturgy

The core of the liturgy of St James has been dated back to about 60AD.  It has been dated so early because of its evident Jewish worldview which acknowledges the whole of creation as under the sovereign rule of the One God, and because of the idioms that have a strong Aramaic flavour (this was the language of Jews in the first century AD).

James was the brother of Jesus.  He wrote the letter of James and was the head of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15).  He was martyred by a Jewish mob who threw him down from the pinnacle of the temple and then beat him to death with clubs (Eusebius [260-339AD, Bishop of Caesarea], 2.23.2).

The liturgy is quite different to the more modern ones we are used to.  It gives a picture of God as both holy and mighty, as well as merciful and forgiving.  As we move through the liturgy you may note:

  • A significant emphasis on our sinfulness and the need for God to make us worthy to worship Him through the work of Christ.
  • The very high view of God as majestic, holy and sovereign over all the earth.
  • There is no separation of worldly and spiritual — a Greek idea that crept into western Christianity later on.  Everything is under God’s lordship.
  • Most of the Biblical allusions are from the Old Testament because the New Testament was still being written.  The correlation of ideas with those we find in the New Testament confirms that the Apostles’ teaching was being established in the churches even though their writings were still incomplete.
  • There is no Creed.  (They were also not written yet).
  • An emphasis on God’s grace and mercy as the one who redeems, sanctifies, and washes us clean of our sins.  There is no space in James’ spiritualityfor thinking we’re in any way good enough for God on our own merits.
  • We are using an abridged version of the liturgy and yet for most of us even spending this much time in prayer (confession, thanksgiving, worship) feels unusually long.    

We will move at a steady but slow pace through the liturgy to give us time to allow the depth and breadth of the prayers to sink into our souls.  Be comfortable with times of silence and allow them to restore your soul.  It is intentional. 

Immediately after our worship, we will have our usual fellowship dinner followed by catechism at 7:30pm. 


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