Purpose of Liturgy: It’s not about you

Purpose of Liturgy: It’s not about you

Just finished up a review of the book Constant Prayer.  The author has so many gems in the book, I thought I’d share a few here.  Pick up your own copy and take a look!

In this excerpt, taken from pages 46-48, the author explains the true purpose of liturgy, and how it’s commonly misunderstood.

Flickr by Recovering Vagabond

I was having a conversation with a pastor of a far more liturgical church than the one I was raised in.  The pastor was telling me about Bill, a man in the church who was complaining about so much liurgy being used in the service on Sunday.  It was more formality than he was generally used to.  I had been going there for some time, and I wondered about the same things Bill was wondering about too…

“I do not like all the rigmarole,” Bill said, “I don’t get it.  Just sing a couple of the good old songs, and then preach me a good sermon, and let’s go home.”

“The liturgy is not for you, Bill,” the pastor told him.  “It is for God…if you get something out of it, Bill, that’s fine.  But if you do not, then that is okay too.  It isn’t even for you.”

It is the same way with the daily office.  The word liturgy means “the work of the people”.   Certainly praying falls under the job description of the people.

The paradox of worship is this: we perform these acts of worship, but they are not actually for us.  We do these things for God, and then we are the ones who are changed.

We offer our songs of praise, and we are the ones moved to joy.  We offer thanksgivings and we are the ones blessed.  We offer the ancient prayers and we are the ones who begin to hear the prayer of God that rises in our hearts.

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