The theme/question for this quarters CoCR by our host at The Cross Reference is:

I guess I’d be interested in hearing perspectives on what obstacles are presented by the varying liturgies (high/low, sacramental/non-sacramental, rubrical/freeform) and how they might be possible to overcome. I don’t necessarily want to get too doctrinal (although the law of prayer and the law of belief go hand-in-hand, as far as Catholics are concerned). And the issue of liturgical reform would be open for discussion as well.

Much of American worship experience when compared to that 5 or 10 centuries earlier is very much less liturgically and bound in ritual and movement than it was then. Charles Tayler in A Secular Age recounts the development of the secularization of modern Western society. The move away from the ritual and formal liturgical expression was one intended to concentrate the spiritual focus of the worshiper away from externalities and to turn inwards concentrating on ones heart and mind to focus on God. As a result many churches and expressions in churches have become less liturgically bound. I suggest that many who reject, or “don’t get” liturgical expression also don’t really appreciate it. Likewise those who cherish liturgical worship don’t “get” or have a real appreciation for good non-liturgical worship.

I will admit up front, that I have always been part of a liturgical worship environment. I grew up in a Lutheran church … and have now ended in a Eastern Orthodox church, which is arguably about as “high” liturgical as you can get in the modern church. So I have a definite bias on the place of liturgy in worship. But, I’d like to pose a question for the non-liturgical church members.

One of the things liturgy and liturgical cycles are good for is memory. Passover and Pascha (Easter) are memories of two very significant events in the Hebrew and Christian churches. These are marked liturgically. The rest of the church year is marked out with a variety of other liturgical events … which in part are to help us remember and mark those as important. These can also mark other historical events. Recently, the church I attend has added to its liturgical calendar a service to remember 9/11. Americans remember July 4th and certain other Presidential holidays. We remember Pearl Harbor a lot less well. Why? Because, there is no secular “holiday” or secular liturgical event (if you will) to mark that day. 9/11 currently also has no such secular liturgy remembering that day. In 50-75 years in the absence of such a marking, like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 will fade from our public consciousness. The point is, liturgy and ritual make a connection not just in our mind, but in our whole being, our nous if you will, between us and events which we … as a church, find significant.

My question is how do you non-liturgical churches hold precious and fast to the important events in Church history in the absence of liturgical remembrance?

Filed under: CatholicismChristianityMark O.OrthodoxProtestantismReligion

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