the beauty of liturgy

There is nothing I like better than a well thought out liturgical time of worship. The Anglican tradition is one of the Christian traditions which has provided us with this through the wonderful Book of Common Prayer. I am glad to say I have not only at least a fairly recent edition of it, but also a version of Thomas Cranmer’s 1549 edition, set for worship (The First English Prayer Book: The first edition since the original publication in 1549). Liturgy could be described as a set form of worship through scripture reading, song and meditation, as well as instruction.

One of our favorite memories together on our (I think) 23rd anniversary was finding an Episcopalian (American version of Anglican) church, making our way in late, and being led to the front row where a lady helped us work through the Book of Common Prayer in the order of the service. Rich in both scripture reading and liturgy, as well as in song, with the Eucharist at the end, and of course a sermon, it was one of the richest times of worship, Deb and I agree, that we’ve experienced.

Our present church values both the reading of scripture and liturgy. We have a professor who is rather steeped in this, and prays accordingly. So that this is modeled well for us.

Here is this morning’s liturgy, including a meditation.

The Anglican tradition is one of my favorite, in fact I might fancy myself as being an Anglican Anabaptist, or Anabaptist Anglican, but better yet, “simply Christian.” Would that we would simply call ourselves that, and agree to disagree on so many what I would call secondary issues. And learn to get along well even when the differences are more serious (in our perception, anyhow). The Anglican tradition is not only one steeped in beauty, but is a mediating one, yes, even between Catholic and Protestant. And thus pushes us toward the goal of Jesus’ high priestly prayer that on earth we in Jesus may all be one as he is one with the Father.

There should be both some spontaneity and freedom, along with liturgy, I think, in any given Christian service. A good number of churches from a number of traditions I think do this quite well.

Above all, liturgy mirrors the beauty of the same found in scripture. Of course good liturgy includes a lot of scripture. It is perhaps more than a bit ironic that churches which make the most of scripture in theory (“sola scriptura”) often seem to neglect it in practice with all too often limited reading. Sermons can be helpful, and in fact have an indispensable place, but God’s people need to hear scripture read. And we do well to learn to appreciate the beauty found in liturgy. So that we individually and together may be conformed more and more to the beauty of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.