Why the Liturgy?

I am often challenged as to why we do a more formal, Lutheran Liturgical Service for our weekly Sunday gathering. Usually this challenge comes from outside the congregation. Many of you at Gift of Grace like what we do. But the challenge also can come from within our ranks.

As this column space is limited and my comments accordingly are kept brief, I will extend this conversation over a number of weeks. I want to share my heart with you on this matter.

You may be surprised to know that I have evolved over the years on the matter of worship. As I have recently been sharing with you, I now prefer to call the weekly service, The Divine Service, for what is most important is that we are being served by our Lord as we gather in his name.

In my mind, the outstanding missing element in weekly services today, is a sense of reverence. But the question that begs to be asked is whether this should concern us. After all, Sunday services have grown more comfortable and entertaining. In many cases people seems happier and more expressive. There is more laughter. Perhaps a sense of reverence merely stifles all this liveliness?

So should we be concerned if reverence has taken a back seat? Consider with me the following passage of Scripture. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).

Frankly, the paucity of Scripture itself is something that I have noticed in attempts to move away from the historic liturgy of the Church. Extended readings (lessons) give way to proof texts, the use of the Psalms disappear, the words we use tend not to use Biblical language. The lack of repetition keeps formation from happening. Well, there will be more to follow…