Christian testimony, collect prayer, lectionary reading,
unction ('under' and 'extreme'), worship vestments?
testimony [ Latin testimônium < testis (a witness)]. In the Christian context, it means letting the Good News of Christ be shown by way of telling one's own story, and what that Good News did in/for/to/with oneself. Its religious use came from its use in law, where the testimony of witnesses is part of a body of evidence in finding out the facts of a case. In many churches, it's common for someone to testify at church services about their experience with Christ or the subject of the sermon.
The role of Christian testimony is often misunderstood. Testimony is often seen by others as merely the story of the person testifying. But it is really the telling of a part of that person's life within the framework of the larger story of how what God made has been brought back together with its Creator, the greater story of the Good News and of the gathering of believers which that Good News created. Each testimony is an open, face-to-face version of what is actually so, which, when added to the testifying of others, becomes an up-to-the-minute part of the Scriptures' 'cloud of witnesses'. Sometimes it's done to support what someone else is doing or saying by giving some additional life-stuff to think about. Testimony shows that a person can be changed, and the Christian faith can be lived.
In a worship service or a church meeting, testimony must fit in with Paul's concern for good order, and not overwhelm the sacraments or Scripture. There are suitable places for testimony in worship. For instance:
Testimony is usually more impactful in a small-group setting where it is more likely to be trusted and the testifier is more easily held accountable. In that context, testimony is part of the caring and sharing which is the net of support for which small fellowship groups exist.
Testimony is often given wrongly - to get attention, grab a piece of the spotlight, or to give others a voyeur's thrill while leaving the inner self untouched, or to tout some preacher's or writer's stature. Yet, one of the Ten Commandments is against bearing false witness. In court, it's called 'perjury', and is itself a crime. Some people 'dirty up' the testimony of what they were, and 'clean up' what they are, in hopes of having an impact on others. They replace God's indirect and sometimes messy work with a clear and direct word from God. All that does is clean out anything that a person in spiritual need can identify or connect with. The key to testimony is to tell the truth, and let the Spirit create the impact.
Yet, how can we do without testimony? If we're sold on the faith, if we've invested our identity into it, it would become very difficult not to tell Jesus' story when we share our own story. Just by being shared, a testimony says, 'Jesus is meant for you, too.' Can I get a witness?
You can also check the dictionary under 'testimony'. Also, there's more about testimony's role in a Christian apologetic, and testimony as a congregational practice.
collect [ Latin ôrâtiô ad collêctam (prayer at the gathering) < colligere (to gather) < co- (together) + legere (to gather, store)] Also known as the Prayer Of the Day.
In liturgical churches, the collect is a specific prayer designed for that particular day's worship. It is found at the end of the entrance rite (the part of the liturgy at the beginning of the service), before the day's Scripture readings.
It is led into by the apostolic greeting :
Presiding Minister : The Lord be with you.
Congregation : And also with you.
Presiding Minister (with hands flat against each other, chest-high): Let us pray.
It's followed by around five seconds of silence, a time for the congregation to collect its thoughts and turn them to God.
The traditional collect follows a set format :
It is usually said by the presiding minister, but can be spoken by anyone. Or everyone : many pietist-leaning churches have the whole congregation speak it together, read from the bulletin or screen. (High-churchers diss this practice, since it undercuts the special role of the minister as liturgical leader. Which, to a low-churcher, is a reason in its favor.) In some places (including some Scandinavian churches) the collect is often chanted or intoned; others believe that takes the prayer-ness out of it.
Prayers that are similar to the collect, but not in as tight a pattern, are often found in various places in Charismatic and Evangelical services. There, the prayer acts as a transition from one part of worship into another.
You can also check for the noun ' collect' in the dictionary.
Lectionary [ < Latin lêctiôn (a reading or lesson) < legere (to read)] A set schedule of Bible readings, for use in each day's worship.
A standard lectionary is divided into an Old Testament section, a Psalm section, a lesson drawn from the Letters, and a reading from the Gospel. In most traditions, the sermon is drawn from the lectionary reading, especially from the Gospel reading. The lectionary is there so the congregation or worshipper will eventually go through the full span of the Bible, accounting for theological importance and church season. Without using a lectionary, a congregation or preacher might focus too much on a few passages, and miss out on the wide range of what the Spirit is saying. Today, most churches use the Revised Common Lectionary, which has two cycles: the 3-year Sunday Lectionary (used in Sunday worship), and the 2-year Daily Lectionary (for personal use or with the Daily Office). The first Christians brought the idea of a lectionary with them from the Jewish worship in which they were raised. Jesus Himself did at least one lectionary reading, in his hometown of Nazareth, but it got Him into lots of trouble.
In the church's first few centuries, long before verse numbers, the Lectionary would have the full quote from Scripture. Those early lectionaries are an early witness to the ancient text.
You can also check for 'lectionary' in the dictionary.
unction [ < Latin unguere (to anoint, oil)] The act of anointing or pouring balm or oil onto something.
The word "unction" is rarely used outside of religious circles. When someone is 'anointed' or given a special blessing of effectiveness by the Spirit, then the tasks they do with the blessing are being done under an 'unction', or an in-pouring of the Spirit. A happening that is 'under unction' is something that is being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, in a way that is beyond merely human action. There is an unction for the function. The word is often used too broadly, for instance, for things done on a grand scale, or done by a favorite preacher. The word 'unction' is also used too narrowly. For instance, it's not used of people doing extraordinarily faithful things in their everyday line of work, and it's not used of strong, especially-effective public action in support of justice for the downtrodden. Those can be special blessings of effectiveness from the Spirit, so why not speak of unction then, too?
The term 'extreme unction' refers to the Roman Catholic act of a priest anointing a person who has grave or serious bodily illness or injury, or illness from old age. The consecrated oil is put onto where the five senses occur (eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, and hands), as well as the feet. Extreme Unction is sometimes referred to as the "Last Rites", usually administered for the dying. Eastern Orthodox churches don't call it 'extreme unction', and do it in some different situations, but they also have a form of it. In origin, it is drawn from ancient rituals of anointing the more generally-sick with oil for healing. Some Protestants has recently returned to the ceremonial use of anointing oils for the sick. However, the Roman Catholic form has a very specific sacramental function, that of calling on God to pardon the sin of those in danger of dying.
You can also check the dictionary for unction.
vestments [ < Latin vestis (garment)] The ceremonial clothing worn by those doing the ceremonies of the church, including worship, dedications, etc.. Also : priestreafs. Particular items include alb, surplice (overslip), cope, chasuble, rochet, maniple (handline), scapular (axlecloth), and mitre.
'Vestments' also refer to the clothing which marks a person as a minister or member of an order of monks/nuns, or a deacon in liturgical worship. For worship services, the colors of the clothing are changed to reflect the church season. I won't go far here into the many different kind of vestments there are, because that would go on endlessly. Each church vestment has its own symbolic meaning. Much of the time, noone who's there knows or cares what that meaning is, and so it is lost. Yet for those who know the meaning, it can enrich whatever occasion it is used for. Sometimes the visual beauty of vestments can draw you deeper into worship of an awesome God. At other times the visual effect brings so much awe to itself that you forget to worship God.
You can also check for vestments in the dictionary.
Facebook page ||
holistic spiritual healing || subject index.
If you like this site, please link to it, and tell others about it.
|ver.: 12 March 2010
Testimony. Copyright © 1996-2010 by Robert Longman.