The Beauty of Liturgy

Liturgy is beautiful. Liturgy is life giving. Liturgy is soul enriching. It is not the form of liturgy that is important, but the fact that liturgy soaks the mind in Scripture and engages the whole being in worship. While there is always the danger that liturgy could become a form without substance, a skeleton without flesh or beating organs, something dead rather than alive, that danger is inherent in all religious observances.

I recently attended an Anglican service and experienced the flow of worship, Scripture readings, prayer, communion, and admonition… My heart was profoundly moved. We didn’t just sing the words “Ancient words, ever true, changing me, changing you”, we read those ancient Words; we literally lifted them high and showed reverence. And after worshiping, reading the Word, praying prayers of confession, intercession, and adoration, and reciting ancient creeds, we took the Lord’s Supper. And it wasn’t just a tiny wafer passed out by an usher and hurriedly consumed once a month or once every few months. It was part of the liturgy—part of the heartbeat of God’s people.

On a more personal level, we could say Daniel’s practice of praying three times a day was a kind of liturgy. And that daily devotional times are an attempt to achieve this cadence in our own lives. But for me, at this point in my life, the communal expression of the liturgy is a true blessing.

What are your experiences of liturgy? How have you seen it incorporated in your local Church? How has it enriched your own life?

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I visited a small little Methodist church not far from my home today. I was so blessed by the reference, the choir, the message, the prayers, the breaking of bread, followed by a few minutes of reflection and thankfulness for our gift of salvation :pray:t3: Toward the end of the service, the church circled around, held hands and sang a song of blessing toward one another. Just beautiful :heart:
I have been smiling all day :slightly_smiling_face:

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Woohoo! Praise the Lord :slight_smile: Maybe a Church home?

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@SeanO, this is beautiful! My experience of liturgy is the irreplaceable necessity for a community of believers or the body of Christ to come together and worship a living God. As a teenager, I have grown in life-long relationships with friends in this community of believers and together, we serve the Lord. As part of the music ministry, we bonded over music Saturday practices, Sunday service and youth planning. We love each other like family and our parents know each other. Now that I’m beyond my teen years, I have realized that was it not for that community of faith, was it not for the belonging-ness and Christ-love shared, I probably would have seek friendship outside the church that will expose me more to the darker influences of the world. Given my adventurous spirit, I surely will land myself in trouble. The Sundays where we come together, sing praise and worship songs, break bread, pray together and just give that uninterrupted time to focus on God, was the community/church itself being one with God. Now as one of the grown-ups, I serve in a church that is very young in population mostly composing of college students. I would love to share with them the community of faith that I was blessed with. In this community, where we do liturgy, we express the intent of Jesus Christ when he told Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church”, where the body of Christ comes together for one purpose and we each do our part to share Jesus Christ to the people whom we meet in our lives.

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@kiichimae Hallelujah! When we pursue Christ together in community it is truly a great adventure. As it says in Psalms 4:7 - “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine” and Psalms 84:10 - “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” May the Lord Jesus bless the young people you are serving with a deeper desire to love and serve God and a wonderful experience of liturgy.

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I’m hopeful :slightly_smiling_face: And 8 mins from my home is a big plus!

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Awesome awesome :slight_smile:

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I enjoyed my experience of liturgy at an Anglican church as well. While I was in Oxford I attended an Anglican church for a year. I appreciated the routine, the order, the calendar. The idea that the church would go through the entire Bible every three years. That pulse seems to extend beyond the walls of the church into people’s lives. The church seems to live life alongside of the people. The rigidity did seem to hammer the scriptures into a person’s heart in a good way. It got it down deep.

I did wonder if there should be more room for spontaneity, to preach by the movement of the Son rather then the sun (I couldn’t help but be poetical there.) Or by the Spirit rather than the calendar. I wonder if there could be a balance between the two.

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@Joshua_Hansen I suspect very few priests / pastors would deny the importance of being sensitive to the Spirit of God if He has something else in mind for a particular Sunday, no matter the denomination. Though I also would suspect someone from a more liturgical background would tend to work within the context of the liturgy as they seek to communicate what God is stirring within them. There may be a cultural element here as well a spiritual one. Some old time preachers refused to even use notes or practice their sermon because they thought it was hindering the Spirit—but that is clearly an overreaction and few modern preachers would advise that route.

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Yeah, for sure. I suppose I am just ignorant of how that gets worked in. I come from a background which is not liturgical. So the Pastor set the agenda and sometimes you would have no idea what the pastor was going to preach on. This didn’t really bother me. I liked the liturgy because I feel like we are on a journey together through the Word with a guide who is pointing out things and highlighting things as a teacher. The predictability was nice. But, I often wonder if the pastor/priest is inspired to preach on a topic or verses that was not on the calendar or agenda how that would work. If the pastor/priest felt led to respond to something happening in the community or a move of the church they wanted to respond to. Would the pulpit or regular service be the place to do that?

I ask these questions in earnest. The dangers of liturgy become form without substance starts with the pastor/priest of course. And I would be weary of placing myself under someone who relies more on the church calendar than an active relationship with God. Now, for me this is simply a hypothetical. The church I went to in Oxford was fantastic and the teachers were amazing. I am just curious how this aspect of liturgy works.

This, of course, is not to say that the more, shall we say “spirit led”, churches are not in danger of these sorts of things. The greater danger there of course is a lack of form and a substance which is unaccountable to tradition. But, that is a “devil” I know, so to speak. :wink:

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@Joshua_Hansen Yes - I suppose we all prefer what is more familiar. Honestly, this is the only liturgical Church I have ever attended for a significant period of time in my life, so I don’t really feel qualified to comment in a general way. And since it sounds like you had a beneficial experience as well at Oxford, our small sample size has thus far returned good results :slight_smile:

Ultimately I think we will always find it is a heart issue more than it is a structure issue. Where the people are seeking God’s heart, the Spirit will be present!

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Amen to that!

This is a real question for me. I see so many benefits to the liturgical side of things. I also see many benefits to the “freer” approach to church. I honestly would really love to find a great confluence at some point. But, as you said, ultimately it is the heart that is the main thing.

The liturgy just give you so much to hang on to. And the repetition just means it becomes second nature to you. The prayers, the confessions. There is so much thought put into them. That coupled with the music and the scripture readings. Taken as a whole it really is beautiful.

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@Joshua_Hansen Yes indeed! I really like the daily readings, the weekly communion, and the longer services with more prayer, worship, and Scripture. I am not sure that this format is necessarily optimal for evangelism, but I think it is much more beneficial for discipleship.

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That is a great point @SeanO. I was a believer and it was hard to capture the cadence of the service. I was often lost and it took me a while to find my bearings in the sea of liturgy. I can see this really being hard for a seeker to enter in and find their way. Man, it is a lot to think through. There has to be some wisdom there. I love the church. As Chesterton said, you cannot reform what you do not love.

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I have sometimes visited liturgical churches at times when significant events such as tragedies had just occurred and the priest or pastor departed from the calendar to address it, but don’t know how that works at other times when the Spirit moves.

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Hello @SeanO
I’ve been to different churches evangelical and traditional etc. Liturgy has its benefits and same with non-liturgical churches. But in over 33 years of church attendance I can conclude that it’s the state of the heart that matters the most - whether it is receptive to the message/things of God, etc. What is the driving motive for being in church? friends, contacts, trend, tradition, habit, moral correctness, curiosity, partner hunting, family etc. Once we get to the point where we go because of a love and longing for Jesus, this changes everything- whichever church one might be attending.

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@CathE Amen sister :slight_smile: I agree completely. It is not the outward form, but the inward transformation produced by the Spirit of Christ.

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