'Fifth, this [Historic Anglicanism] is a liturgical church. Anglicanism employs liturgy to several ends: to secure regular acknowledgment from the church that sinners are saved only in Christ; to express the congregation's adherence to the catholic faith in the use of the historic creeds; to express the need of the congregation to hear the Bible in both Testaments read systematically, giving a special place to the Psalms as articulating biblical piety; and to provide for prayer which is carefully crafted theologically and which reflects international, national as well as local needs.A couple of thoughts from me:
Liturgy is not used for art's sake (that is, aesthetically), but for truth's sake (that is, theologically), in order to retain the Bible, the catholic creeds and the reformed confessions at the centre of the church's confession of faith.
And it uses liturgy for the sake of laity, to protect the congregation from the whims of the minister and to provide for the voice of the congregation to be heard articulating the faith, and not just the voice of the minister.'
*** Dr Barnett has more to say by way of reflection. Click on the comments HERE.
For some, it wouldn't matter what good reasons were proposed, they will not get 'into' liturgy. But Dr Barnett's list in the first paragraph has some power for me. I find it interesting that a liberal church that employs liturgy may read more of the bible in their services than an evangelical church with not a lot of liturgy.
Here is where I am at: I have had a love-hate relationship with liturgy over many years. As a teenager, I found myself frustrated that liturgy seemed perfectly placed for lip-service only. I always wanted to be captivated in church and gripped by God and his mission, and liturgy seemed not to captivate me. I'm sure that I was not alone.
Then, at age 20, I went to St Barnabas Broadway. Barneys was relaxed and joyful and gripped by God's love. And yet they employed liturgy to good effect. The liturgy was a servant of the congregation, not its master. There was an energy and a momentum to the service. Things were explained, but not over-explained. There was talk, but no meta-talk. I invited my friends who didn't know Jesus, and many people become Christians there.
Here at Christ Church NYC, we are definitely liturgical. And we seek to employ liturgy as a servant of the congregation. We use it for many of the reasons that Dr. Barnett has listed above. While it doesn't come naturally for some to use set forms in church, there are many who come to Christ Church because of the liturgy (and especially the younger people!) They say that they are tired of listening to the ramblings of a pastor based on what came to mind while eating breakfast. And, as Dr. Barnett says, here, they are protected "from the whims of the minister".
In this case, me.
And thankful we all are for it. :)
Some questions you might like to comment on:
- Are there any of you that have had positive experiences of liturgy? Let us know.
- What do you think of the comment that liturgy is "not used for art's sake"?
- What do you gain and lose by letting go of liturgical services?
Pic on Flickr by spamily.