Monday, July 08, 2013

Liturgy Series: Introduction

A. Hanson, Haarlem, Netherlands
One of the things about which I am most passionate is liturgy.  So I am going to embark on a blog series about the different parts of the liturgy and what this means and why it matters.  There are four basic parts of the liturgy, Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending. I am going to break these down into the subheadings that appear in our worship bulletins.

I have quite a few friends and people that are close to me who are new to Lutheranism or church in general, and liturgy is one of the most intimidating things to them.  To them, liturgy is something that everyone else seems to know and it demarcates the difference between who is "in" and who is "out."  And this is the exact opposite of what Liturgy should be.  I can only speak to my tradition, the ELCA, so I cannot speak for what liturgy looks like or means for other traditions.

Liturgy as we know it is derived from a Jewish service of the Word as practiced by Jesus himself (Luke 4:14-21) and a meal that is the sharing of bread and wine in remembrance of Christ's death and resurrection (Matthew 26:26-29).  There are scripture readings included in the liturgy, including psalms.  Each component of the liturgy has a biblical basis, although there is no specific liturgy in the Bible, per se.  You can read more about these scriptural components of liturgy, on the ELCA site at this link, Biblical Roots of the Liturgy.

Music is not tangential to the liturgy, in fact, it serves a very important function of illuminating and pointing to the texts.  It functions as proclamation.  It provides a communal way of remembering and reinforcing our shared story.

There is a long and dramatic (and dry) history outlined in the Book of Concord about how liturgy came to be what it is and how it served to differentiate the Lutherans from the Catholics, etc, etc.  But that is not what matters to most of us (although my Lutheran Confessions professor would probably beg to differ).  So I am going to spare you that discussion.

Instead, we move to...

Part I: Confession and Forgiveness

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