At St Matthew’s our worship is joyful and formal. Our church has traditionally been called Anglo-Catholic, sometimes referred to as ‘high church’, or ‘smells and bells’. We are not fussy about our rituals, but we do believe they help people to worship God with all their senses. We are embodied people, so why not use all our senses - sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste?
We believe that anyone, of any age, mental capacity or background, can join in our worship. Even a small child can make the sign of the cross on their forehead - this is a prayer in itself. We invite both adults and children to become altar servers, playing a full part in making the worship beautiful and reverent. In Advent and Lent we journey round the Stations of the Cross, or the Stations of the Incarnation, together as a congregation learning about the first and last stages of Jesus’ life. A wide range of people are involved in Welcoming, reading, leading prayers and making music. Everyone has a contribution to make.
Sharing our Family Meal
When we worship at St Matthew’s we try to draw on the richness of the world’s gifts to enhance our worship and help us meet God as we pray.
The usual form of worship at St Matthew’s Church is the Mass (also called the Eucharist or Holy Communion). The service falls into two parts where we first listen to and reflect on the Word of God from the scriptures and then remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as we recall - in words and gestures - Jesus’ Last Supper with his friends. The Risen Life of Christ is shared with us as we gather around the altar and receive bread and wine together.
Whilst the ceremonies that are observed throughout the celebration of Mass can seem formal, it should be remembered that it is natural for human beings to develop customs and rituals around important events. What we do at St Matthew’s has been informed by natural human behaviour that has developed under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit over many centuries through evolving cultural traditions. The use of special clothing, bells, sweet-smelling incense, music and different gestures is intended to draw the whole body into the act of meeting, worshipping and being transformed by the Living God.
There are other, simpler forms of worship at St Matthew’s, notably Morning Prayer which happens on weekdays. This is a time for listening to the words of scripture, resting in the stillness of God’s presence and uniting ourselves with all people of faith throughout the world. As the sun rises and brings warmth to the earth we pray that God’s love will be known in all places, bringing strength, blessing and wisdom to all whose hearts are open.
Other opportunities for worship, prayer and to help us engage with the different phases and ‘moods’ of the church year are advertised in our weekly news sheet.Each of the different traditions within the Church of England seeks to emphasise different things about the nature of God and the relationship between God, the world and individuals. The Anglo-Catholic tradition seeks to hold together our understanding of God as transcendent (mysterious, majestic and incomprehensible) and immanent (present and knowable in our midst). The rich variety of traditions that make up the Anglican tapestry need not be set against one another, often differences are simply the result of choices about aesthetics or ethos.