Liturgy and Worship
All Christians everywhere have an approach to worshipping God. We use something called "liturgy." Liturgy is an intentional and ordered approach to worship. Here are some of the reasons we find it to be a helpful approach to meeting the living God Sunday by Sunday.
We believe good liturgy is like an anciet cathedral. Through structure and beauty, it creates space for the worshipper to meet with God. Just as the architecture of a cathedral immediately draws the eyes upward, the architecture of the liturgy draws the soul upwards, into the glory and holiness of God, in order to worship him. The basic stucture of the liturgy unfolds in four parts:
+Gathering (opening prayers, songs of worship, confession)
+Word (reading of scripture, sermon, reciting Nicene Creed)
+Sacrament (weekly Communion)
+Sending (we are blessed and sent back out into the world)
People live by rhythms. It could be daily rhythms of morning coffee and reading the paper, weekly rhythms of mowing the lawn, or yearly rhythms of sending kids to school or gathering with family and friends during the holidays. Our rhythms helps us enjoy and make the most of life. They help us stay focused on what's important to us. The liturgy does something similar. It follows a rhythm called the "Church Calendar" that keeps us immersed in the story of Jesus, year after year, by remembering major events such as his birth, baptism, temptation, death, and resurrection. As we follow this yearly rhythm, the emphasis of our worship changes and draws our attention to different parts of the story and different aspects of Christian spirituality. In this way our liturgical rhythms keep things fresh and new. We're always making new discoveries (or being reminded of something we forgot!) about Christ and what it means to follow him.
We believe worship is a corporate activity. There may be certain people set apart to lead worship (musicians, pastors, scripture readers), but worship is an activity of God's people, not just of a few. It is not a spectator sport. The word 'liturgy' means 'work of the people.' The liturgy helps the people do the life-giving work of worshipping God. Instead of just one person doing all the praying, there are many opportunities for the whole congregation to pray. Sometimes those prayers are free-flowing, sometimes they follow a set wording. Liturgical worship allows room for personal intimacy with God. But through its corporate worship, it also reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves - the people of God and the Kingdom of God!
God's people have been worshipping him for a long time. While we celebrate new ways to worship him - through fresh expressions of art and music - we also cherish the liturgy as a lifeline to the past. It connects us with the saints who have gone before us. Some of the prayers we say have been said in the same or similar form for hundreds of years. The structure and some elements of the liturgy go back to the early church and even to the worship of the Jewish people in the Old Testament. The liturgy keeps us connected to the God of history. And with this grounding in the past, we are able to confidently step into the future.