Why the Liturgy? (Part Two)

Last week I shared with you the concern that I had that as congregations move away from the historic liturgy, we end up Scripturally impoverished. I want to unpack that a bit more.

First, it is important to note that in Luther’s attempt at reform in the Church he did not do away with the form of the Mass, the historical roots of which dated back to the earliest centuries of the Church. It is with other traditions of the Protestant Reformation that they began to do away with the form of the liturgy. Luther merely edited some of the language so as to reflect a strong “gospel” emphasis.

You should be aware of the use of Biblical language in the historical order of service. Not only are many elements in the liturgy portions of Scripture, but the Biblical way of addressing God comes from Scripture. And so you hear the Triune Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You hear Jesus addressed as Christ Jesus our Lord, or our Lord Jesus Christ. He is often addressed as being with the Father and working in the Spirit. The first person of Trinity is addressed as God our Father, or our Father in Heaven. I could go on and on! There are endless ways to address God in the Bible. So why do you find such novel ways of addressing him when the historic liturgy is abandoned? Ways not found in Holy Writ!

And as I mentioned last week, lengthier readings of the Bible (lessons) are read in liturgical worship. With the use of a lectionary, some assurance is made that over the course of a year many, if not all, of the themes of Scripture are heard. Likewise, in keeping with ancient Israel, our ancestors in the faith, the historic liturgy uses the Psalms whereby we can speak or chant God’s Word back and forth to each other.

The Lutheran liturgical tradition helps form us in God’s Word! It helps us become Scripturally fluent.

Since You Asked…

What is the significance of The Ascension Day Commemoration?

Forty days following Easter the Resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, where as we confess in the Creed, he was seated at the right hand of the Father. The account of the ascension of our Lord occurs in both Luke 24:50-51 and Acts 1:9-11. As described in these passages Jesus led his disciples up Mount Olivet near Jerusalem where suddenly they witnessed his being elevated up into the sky until a cloud took him away from their sight. This signified his return to heaven where, as we confess in the Creed, he was seated at the right hand of the Father. This enthronement is a description of the all-inclusive authority he was given by the Father. Christ’s going away necessarily preceded his promised sending of the Holy Spirit. Other hints at the significance of his ascension have to do with his promise to go and prepare a place for his followers to be with him, and to serve as a High Priest interceding for his Church.