A friend pointed to the above image and exclaimed: “Now, that’s liturgy!”
Very quickly, however, in our one-way culture (where affirming one thing is understood by many as denying anything different to what is being affirmed), people end up thinking that the above image is the only way to do liturgy, the ideal of liturgy we should be aiming for.
But I contend that the following image is just as much, “Now, that’s liturgy!”:
Liturgy is prayer, worship together; praying in Christ; as part of the Body of Christ.
This means liturgy needs to be appropriate to the context. The image at the top of this post is of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presiding over the Divine Services of Pentecost and concelebrating with the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches at St. Menas Cathedral in Heraklion, Crete. It is the first such meeting for over a millennium. It is one of the grandest possible occasions in Christian history.
But attempting to replicate that in a rural parish church with a dozen people is inappropriate. As would be replicating what happens in such a small community at the current meeting in Crete.
Liturgy is not a cookie-cutter concept, not something we clone (or attempt to clone) from one context into a quite different one.
A couple praying together, “Now, that’s liturgy!”:
It is a nonsense, an oxymoron, to talk about “non-liturgical worship”. That’s like saying “non-eatable food”, “invisible colour”… Someone who says, “I don’t like liturgy” is just saying “I don’t like praying”.
Even when you pray alone you pray in Christ, part of the Body of Christ, part of the Communion of Saints. When you pray, you are not alone. And this can be expressed by sharing in the Daily Office, the Daily Eucharistic Readings, the Lord’s Prayer,…
If you want to think through more on making liturgy appropriate to the particular context in which you worship, I encourage you to start with my (free, online) book Celebrating Eucharist.
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