Being Anti-Liturgical

23 05 2014

From Peter J. Leithart, at the FIRST THINGS blog.  Succinct and true.

One of the central insights of Jeff Meyers’ book The Lord’s Service is that the liturgy is pre-eminently God’s service to us rather than our service to Him. When we gather each week as His people and bride, He draws near to declare forgiveness, to speak His live-giving Word, to invite us to His table where He gives His Son in the power of the Spirit. Word and Sacrament are the heart of liturgy because these are the ways God gives Himself to us – in speech and in food.

Even our actions in the liturgy – our confession, our praise and thanks, our intercession – are caught up by the Spirit into the work of our great High Priest, as we do everything we do in His Name, giving thanks to the Father through Him.

Liturgy is the heart of pastoral care. And like all other forms of pastoral care, the liturgy is the action of Jesus the Pastor, the Good Shepherd of the flock.

Evangelicals often worry that we might become “too liturgical,” as if the liturgy might inhibit the church’s ministry and mission. If the liturgy is Christ’s Word and Food given to us, and His work before the Father for us, though, there cannot be any such thing as “too much” liturgy. The real danger is not liturgy but our faithless attempts to improve on God’s gifts, our impatience with the slow, unspectacular labor of Word and Sacrament.

And that danger also exists in “liturgical churches.” Those who think the church needs no liturgy are obviously anti-liturgical; but churches that crowd the liturgy are also anti-liturgical because they also divert the liturgy away from those places where the Spirit has promised to be active – in the Word and at the Table.




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