The Lure of Liturgy

There’s been a convergence for me as of late. The idea of liturgy sounds increasingly more attractive all of the time as I navigate various shades of disillusionment with typical evangelical expressions of the church gathered.

I remember a few years ago being perplexed by all of the younger adults moving from the Vineyard church I was a part of to an Anglican church. In my mind, this was a step backwards. I think that I understand the lure now.

The lure is a return to a form of worship that predates modernity. And yet there is indeed so much encrustedness there that made newer forms of worship such as that found in the Vineyard seem absolutely necessary.

I’m not really trying to land this thought anywhere. I’m just saying that more litrugically-based conceptions of worship no longer perplex me. Rather, they draw me. Anybody else thinking about liturgical worship?

10 responses to “The Lure of Liturgy”

  1. Liturgy lures me when it matches with my convictions and language. So, sometimes it’s emphases are on aspects of worship/teaching that I’m not particularly interested in at the moment, or it uses language that confuses rather than evokes.

    And I would always want to couch liturgy in an earthy restored humanity sense, so that it does not grow stale. For me it is best when it arises from stories, rather than propositional doctrine.

  2. Yes, liturgy lures me, too. I echo Cam’s beautifully turned phrase,”in an earthy, restored humanity sense.”

    Someone (I think it was PamBG at said we must be careful with our terms–the casual cacaphony of unstructured-pop concert-followed-by-a-seminar-worship is a form of liturgy. But I’m struggling with it.

    I long for embodied worship that draws us together in communion with the triune God–I want to hear Scripture read aloud and to hear the voice of the person singing next to me instead of only hearing the band. I long for the rhythms speaking and listening, of engagement and silence.

  3. Cam: Great input here my man. Thoughts like what you’re putitng forth there help me to get beyond the “grass is greener” syndrome that too often plagues me.

    Kathy: You’re absolutely right that the standard evangelical/charismatic service is a liturgy of sorts, only it is a memorized one rather than a formally scripted one. Your longings touch on exactly the kind of thing that’s luring me into “liturgy.”

  4. Having left the evangelical “world of worship” and moved to the Anglican liturgical tradition almost three years ago now, I strongly resonate with your comments Matt. Descriptors that come to my mind now around the word liturgy are: simple,powerful,silence,rooted, ancient, the aroma of incense, icons and candles (visual imagery,) focus directed to the almighty and everlasting Triune God Head and no real focus on “am I getting the feeling?”


  5. Murray, thanks for weighing in. Those are the types of things drawing me to liturgy, particularly the inattention to “feeling it.”

  6. Hey Matt, it’s Jonathan

    During my third year at SSU I converted to Catholicism, and found much refreshment in the Catholic liturgy, which seemed much more grounded than the random and often downright bizarre events that I encountered during my experiences in the various charismatic/spirit-led churches I have been a part of, including a six month stint in the School of Ministry at the Toronto Christian Airport Fellowship (which I certainly endorse wholeheartedly, by the way). In defense of the liturgy, it certainly offers continuity with the early church that I think is lacking in more modern “seeker-friendly” services. That said, I do find the lack of spontaneity somewhat difficult to grow used to…and indeed rather irritating at times. But even so, I think every church has a prescribed order of events that it rarely deviates from, be it the obligatory “worship curve” of several fast songs followed by several slow songs which invariably precede an “informal” sermon, or be it the reciting of the “Our Father” which invariably precedes the taking of the Eucharist. For now, I still have a foot on each side of the fence, really. But I think more and more I’m beginning to place more weight on the side of the liturgy.


  7. Jonathan, thanks for adding your thoughts. I especially need to be reminded of the fact that nowhere is “perfect.”

  8. Ah, the liturgy. Being a former Episcopalian (moving into Anglican) there is a lot to be said for those types of liturgy.

    The sense that I have found in comparing protestant type churches vs. a “liturgical’ style church is that, to me, there seems to be more reverence for the worship service in some of the liturgical churches, that it is like the book of Revelation come to earth.

    You might want to peruse a Roman perspective on liturgy in “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Scott Hahn”.

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