Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WHY LITURGY?

Good post by Lutheran Rev. William Cwirla on The Top Ten Reasons We Use the Liturgy. Here's the list. Check out his blog for details.
  1. It shows our historic roots.
  2. It serves as a distinguishing mark.
  3. It is both Theocentric and Christocentric.
  4. It teaches.
  5. It is transcultural.
  6. It is repetitive in a good way.
  7. It is corporate.
  8. It rescues us from the tyranny of the “here and now.”
  9. It is external and objective.
  10. It is the Word of God.
I find the last point one of his most interesting. Critics of liturgical worship often claim that their churches are more "Biblical". However, they fail to realize several obvious facts:
  • The Bible itself is filled with liturgical materials, in both OT and NT. This shows that God's people have always worshiped in a liturgical fashion.
  • The Bible portrays God's people worshiping through liturgy. A simple example may be found in Acts 2.42: "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Note especially that they used "the prayers"—that is, the set liturgical prayers that they had learned in synagogue and temple worship. I find it interesting that this liturgical text describes the practice of the Spirit-filled church soon after Pentecost. Those who critique liturgical worship because they say it does not allow for the freedom of the Spirit have a problem here.
  • The liturgy is filled with Scripture. More Scripture is read, prayed, sung, and referenced in one liturgical service than in an entire season of services in most free worship congregations. As Cwirla notes, the liturgy IS the Word of God spoken for and by God's people, not simply a "service" in which the Word is included.

6 comments:

Eric Wyse said...

Mike - a great concise reasoning for use the liturgy.
It confirms my own experience going on 17 years now of using The Book of Common Prayer in our Anglican tradition at St. Bartholomew's. Scripture based, participating with the Communion of Saints, and always something is fresh and new and jumps out to hit me over the head, so to speak.

Damaris said...

I learned recently -- correct me if I'm wrong -- that liturgy means joint work, work that is greater than the sum of its part. I like the implications of that in regard to worship.

Michael Mercer said...

Damaris, nice point. The idea may be implied in the meaning of the word, which in English is merely a transliteration of the Greek. Literally, it means, "The work of the people."

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