Monday, May 9, 2011

Liturgy as Formation - 1

Liturgy (literally the "work of the people") is formation.  Most Americans believe that formation is simply the next fad word for religious education.  However, Jesus in John 5:39 states, "You study the Scriptures diligently thinking that by having them you have me but you know me not."  Being a Jesus follower is not a matter of the head except in that our knowledge orients our worship.  Knowledge informs us about Who we are worshiping.  Evangelicals often get lost in the pursuit of knowing about God and forget to say "Hello."
There are three parts to our historical liturgy: 1) learning about Whom we love (the liturgy of the Word);  2) spending time with Him (worship/Eucharist) and; 3) proclaiming reconciliation to Him (evangelism).  The easiest is learning "about".  It requires almost no commitment or sacrifice on our part.  It requires little humility, submission or subjugation. It is also the source of the enormous problem today creating "pick and choose" Christians and the rampant "all roads lead to God" philosophy.  We learn about poverty and about child soldiers and about alcoholic Smith in the last pew and we can simply lament and be filled with pity and sentimentalism.  That is "about-ness".  There are many thousands of people, you may know some, you may be one, who know about Christ but for whom, Jesus' Lordship is despised.  The hallmark of salvation, as we all have heard again and again, is relationship and yet our congregations allow scant relationship building and love learning and teaching.  If you would be formed, if you would form your child, into a persevering Jesus follower you must engage in the liturgy of formation.  It is a dance.  There are rules to be sure, but if you simply obey the rules you will never dance but die alone.

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