Friday, May 09, 2008

On liturgy

It's become apparent in the benefice that I still need to do some explanation as to why liturgy is essential for right worship. So I'm plotting six or seven articles in the parish magazines about liturgy and related matters. They'll probably start out as blogposts ;-)

However, in the meantime, Kyle is on really good form at the moment. Check out his posts on monasticism (definitely something I'm pondering with regard to Mersea) and even more, this post which includes his comments:

Response to Con #1. Oh, if only we could teach people to “simply recite praise to God”! In the Catholic tradition, we understand that the “rigid” liturgy teaches us to pray extemporaneously. The Church teaches us the language of prayer and praise, and until we start to use it, we don’t even know what it would be like to “mean” it. Our “incredibly rigid” liturgy (I’m choosing to claim that, I know you didn’t put it on me) is expanding the imaginative world of our people to understand that they inhabit a world which is receiving the healing presence of this Kingdom where God lives and reigns.

In our tradition, there is very little of what you call “variety” permitted, and I give thanks for that. As a matter of fact, we do the same thing every week, with “different songs, prayers [and] sermons.” And it’s a good thing.

Con #2. Christian liturgy is not meant to be comfortable for “guests or pre-Christians.” It is the rehearsal of the grand story that informs our lives, and it puts the lie to every other story by which people of this world lives their lives. Christian liturgy is political and prophetic, and God help us if those outside the community find it “comfortable.”

Con #3. In our tradition, laity read the scripture (great big chapters of it), serve the Precious Blood, and lead the bible classes. At the same time, the pastor is the Rector (ruler) and what he says goes in terms of Christian worship. The liturgy is bound up with pastoral care, and it is his responsibility.

Con #4. I suggest that for proponents of what you call “contemporary” worship, the reason they struggle to be transformed is 1) the liturgy is inappropriate to begin with (did you eat Jesus this week?) and 2) they have yet to submit themselves to the Jesus who comes to them in what they call “the same old thing.” Chasing after the next interesting thing only seems edifying.

Con #5. Clearly, one man’s “lazy” is another man’s “faithful.”

A final word - the blogger (Jeremy) leaves a comment: "Thanks for the comments, Kyle and indie. Your word are very enlightening and I will reflect upon and learn from them." Would that we all - including me - had such an enlightened attitude.

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