So we looked yesterday at why following a liturgy is like playing a good game of golf. But what is a liturgy?
Collins English Dictionary defines it as “a particular order or form of public service laid down by a Church”
Annie Dillard says “I often think of the set pieces of liturgy as certain words which people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed.”
Pope Paul VI said “Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground.”
I read once that having a liturgy does five things for us.
1. It saves us from disorderliness
Otherwise our services might be chaos all the time, with some people trying to sing while others are trying to pray. Each part has its place, and we know that we are united in our prayers or worship at that moment with the entire body.
2. It saves us from dependence on a minister
This one is strange, because you would think that having a liturgy would mean you are bound to follow someone. However having a set liturgy means we do not need to rely on the training and abilities of an official to lead us in worship. We have the means to do it ourselves, and a resource for even the most clueless or nervous leader to take us through the worship and service.
3. It saves us from our own feelings
Let us be honest. If it has been a bad day, our mind might not really be on what we are saying. If we are not feeling the joy, we might not express it. Liturgy makes sure we focus on everything, not just what we feel like.
4. It saves us from loss of perspective
In times of war and trouble, we might forget to give thanks.
In times of plenty, we might forget to pray for the needs of others.
In times of great thanksgiving, we might forget to seek forgiveness.
Liturgy keeps us focused on the whole Christian experience.
5. It preserves all that is good
As we discussed yesterday, we take the best from every age. Each new age learns new ways to honour God, but we should not abandon what has worked before.
Then we can truly say we are part of the universal church, and worship with “all the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.”
What I like about the liturgy is that it is flexible and alive, while still following a basic structure. Sometimes a little structure and order is good, but we need to leave room for the Spirit to move among us, and through us.
Do you like liturgy?
Why? Or Why not?