Tuesday, June 18, 2013

why we use the liturgy

Why do we use the historic liturgy?

 1. It shows our historic roots. Some parts of the liturgy go all the way back to the apostolic period. Let's face it - we’re not the first Christians to walk the face of the planet, nor will we be the last. The race of faith is a relay race, one generation handing on the faith to the next.

 2. It serves as a distinguishing mark. The liturgy distinguishes us from those who do not believe, teach, and confess the same as we do. What we believe determines how we worship, and how we worship confesses what we believe.

 3. It is Christ-centered. From the triune invocation to the three-fold benediction at the end, the liturgy is focused on the activity of the three in one God centered in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Worship is not primarily about “me” but about God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

 4. It teaches. The liturgy teaches the whole counsel of God – creation, redemption, sanctification, the incarnation, passion, resurrection, and the new life of faith. Every liturgical year cycles through these themes so that the hearer receives the whole counsel of God on a regular basis.

 5. It is transcultural. When traveling around the world, even though one may not know the language, one can still recognize the liturgy and be able to participate across language and cultural barriers.

 6. It is repetitive in a good way. Repetition is, after all, the mother of all learning. Fixed texts and annual cycles of readings lend to deeper learning. Obviously, mindless repetition does not accomplish anything - nor does endless variety.

 7. It is corporate. Worship is a communal activity. The liturgy draws us out of ourselves into Christ by faith and the neighbor by love. We are in this together.

 8. It rescues us from the tyranny of the immediate. When the Roman world was going to hell in a hand basket, the church was busy debating the two natures of Christ. In the liturgy, the Word sets the agenda - it defines our needs and shapes our prayers.

 9. It is external and objective. The liturgical goal is not that everyone feel a certain way or have an identical “spiritual” experience. Feelings vary even as they come and go. The liturgy supplies a concrete, external, objective anchor in the death and resurrection of Jesus through Word, bread, and wine. Faith comes by hearing the objective, external Word of Christ.

 10. It is the Word of God. This is often overlooked by the critics. Most of the sentences and songs of the liturgy are direct quotations or allusions from Scripture or summaries, such as the Creed. In other words, the liturgy is itself the Word of God.

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