Why I Love Liturgy?

Why do I get so frustrated at most youth events? Well, a whole lot of reasons that I hope to explore as part of this blog. But to start with, the issue of liturgy is one that is dear to my heart. And most youth worship events have little or no written liturgy in it. And that worries me. Not because I am an Anglican, and we love liturgy for the sake of it. It worries me because I think good liturgy, well prepared and done well can be life changing, and is certainly spirit moving. So what is good about liturgy?
Well, to start, in the New Zealand Anglican Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare is written using mostly the words of scripture. What an amazing thing to speak scripture and to hear the words of scripture and to memorise such big chunks of scripture. I think that is life changing.
Now I know that most of the time we use those words in a very rote and boring way. So I am not suggesting that what goes on in many Anglican parishes Sunday after Sunday is good liturgy. But when I am in church and the priest begins “This is the day the Lord has made” I respond with all my heart “let us rejoice and be glad in it.” These are profound things we are saying to God and to each other. And when you are part of a congregation that really gets into what it is saying it is a moving experience. Wouldn’t it be great to offer young people a way of speaking that is truly God centred and counter cultural. Good liturgy offers that.
Finally, good liturgy has a flow that can move people. You don’t even need to use the words in the book to get into the flow. Like the service I described last time. In the end we did two confessions and the power of the communion was lost in the desire to have “talk” and activity last. If the flow of the liturgy had been used, the talk would have led into the confession over what it is that stops us being for god 24/7, and then into the Eucharist where Christ invites us to come without our masks, as we are, and to receive the food we need to leave our masks off. For me that is a far more profound thing. Yet so often that movement is lost because no-one wants to use liturgy or its flow.

I am not expressing myself very well, but god liturgy has a depth and power to it that for me anyway is so often missing in what we offer in terms of worship, both on Sunday and at youth events. In its place at youth events is this musical mishmash that only goes so far, and relies on good tunes to move people. It lacks the depth of good liturgy. It lacks the biblical anchoring of good liturgy. And as a result is very limited in how far it can move the spirit of young people. I want more for them.


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