It is Pliny the Younger, early in the second century, who gives the first external impression of Christians at worship, information he says he gathered from lapsed Christians:
... on an appointed day they had been accustomed to meet before daybreak, and to sing responsively to Christ, as to a God, and to bind themselves by a solemn vow, not to commit a specific crime but rather to avoid theft, robbery, adultery, breach of faith, and not to deny a loan claimed back. After this ceremony ended it was their custom to go and meet again for food...
We’ve worshipped in turn on the last three Sundays at Haworth Catholic Church, Lees Methodist Church and Haworth West Lane Baptist Church, and I can report that these services had the following things in common (strictly excluding things which two of them had in common but a third did not).
There is quite a level of overlap with what Pliny had been told. But, like his account, it is interesting to speculate how true or complete a picture is given.
Worship happens at 10.30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
The main participation of the adults is to sing together, many of the songs coming from sources held in common.
The youngest people present contribute something specific to the service themselves very briefly.
A passage from a Gospel is read.
A significant attempt is made by the ordained person leading the worship to apply the message of the reading to the way Christians live.
The individual Christian's failure to live as he or she is called to do, his or her recognition of this, and God’s willingness to go on loving and working with him or her none the less, is the one message in common.
Prayers are said for the church’s engagement with the community and for others.
The Lord’s Prayer is said by all.
Refreshments are served after the worship.
There is a large cardboard collecting box for the same local food bank.
Meanwhile, a scooter procession past the steps leading up to St Michael's, Haworth was just one of the things going on at the 60s Weekend a few days ago.