Sunday, November 27, 2011

The liturgy of Jesus

Prompted by an excellent post at Liturgy, itself stimulated by other posts on the internet, I have been thinking a little about worship and where we are going in our services as Anglicans, given that we do indeed want to achieve a lot from our liturgies: advance in mission, teaching the faith, mini-parish meetings (as sometimes our "notices" become), incorporating families (perhaps especially aiming at children, at youth, at young adults, at parents), evolving ourselves into deeper alignment with Anglicanism or (sub-)consciously moving away from that form of Christian life, as well as, lest we clergy forget, collecting the offertories to maintain stipend payments, dispensing pieces of paper, themselves sent by church and para-church officials with ambitions about what they will achieve from our congregations, building fellowship, offering hospitality. Quite a list! Oh, and had better mention the aim of worshipping God.

Rather than slate or promote this or these aims beside worshipping God, I think it useful to reflect a little on what a liturgy of Jesus might look like, i.e. if he were both the vicar and the chair of the worship committee.

We could think, for instance, of the way in which Jesus was at ease among groups and crowds of people, readily imbibed food and offered hospitality, never lost an opportunity to teach, often looked up to the Father to praise and to pray, quoted Scriptures frequently, often the Psalms, was regular at the synagogue, and at temple festivities.

Which makes me think whether one question about liturgy is wrongly framed: rather than ask whether we expect too much of liturgy, could we be expecting too little of ourselves as a fellowship of believers?

That is, make liturgy the reason primarily why we gather together, then tack various things on to the liturgy, then we may grumble that we are losing sight of what liturgy is primarily about.

What if we met together Sunday by Sunday (indeed more frequently than that) because we think meeting together is important in its own right. Then in the course of our meeting together we could talk, discuss, eat, drink, plan, prepare for other activities, and, yes, intentionally worship God through liturgy.

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