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Week 3

 Liturgy (Week 3)

 

Liturgical Note: When the priest faces the Altar, he is praying with and leading the congregation in prayer. When the priest faces the congregation he is speaking on behalf of God according to the promises given in Scripture.

 

Location in the service: The service began with an opening call to worship. We responded to that call by joining our selves to the procession of God’s people (bowing) and approaching His very presence (beneath the banner of Christ) to worship.

 

C] The Opening Salutation

                    The Lord be with you

                    And with thy spirit

                    Let us pray

 

Notice at once, that the opening salutation is not just a polite way to get everyone to be quiet. Rather, it sets the expectation for the whole service and is a beautiful expression of liturgy as the work of the entire people.  First, the priest asks God to be with the people. That is, he prays that God will nourish and equip His people, especially in regards to the work of worship they have come to perform. Second, the people respond by asking God to be with the priest, spiritually endowing his efforts to minister God’s Word and Sacrament. In other words, priest and congregation alike, ask God to bless and equip the others work in worship (notice then salutation concludes: let us pray). This formulary is taken from Scripture and ancient Church tradition.

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

 

D] The Prayer for Purity:

ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Notice at once that the Prayer for Purity is a prayer of preparation and the first act of worship proper (we have entered God’s house to worship and consolidated our efforts for worship; now we undertake the work of worship). Notice at once that the first portion of the Prayer for Purity reminds us that it matters how we come before God. Therefore, we begin worship by turning to God for His grace and asking Him to purify our hearts, desires, and thoughts that our worship may be acceptable to Him. Next, the second portion of the prayer reminds us that it matters what we do before God. In other words, God determines how God is to be worshiped. Therefore, we turn to God for His grace that we might love Him perfectly and worship Him in a worthy manner (according to His standard).

 

Next, notice as the priest prays this prayer, he approaches the Altar, drawing with Him the prayers of the whole congregation. In other words, his approach represents the action of the whole church. God’s people approach God to worship Him.

 

Bottom line: the Prayer for Purity reminds us that worship is not by our merit or our will. Rather, we begin worship by turning to God for both the ability and the standard necessary to worship Him aright

 

E] The Summary of the Law:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

 

We have come to worship God but what does worship mean? We have turned to God for purity but what purity does God require of His people? The Summary of the Law provides an outline of what God requires of all who would follow Him.

 

Importance: the Summary of the Law shows us the true and full meaning of liturgy. Liturgy is not simply a formal style of worship. Rather, it is the work of the people all the time. The summery of the Law then inseparably binds our worship in church with the worship we perform every day as we serve God (the Sabbath is the culmination and the preparation of our weekly service)

 

At the same time, the Law also proclaims the amazingness of God’s grace. How? The Law not only informs us of our ongoing obligation to God but it also provides a blue print of what God has promised to accomplish in each believer through His grace. Remember, what God requires of you, Christ fulfilled for you, and the Holy Spirit now fulfills in you. As such the Law is both an ongoing requirement for man and an unfailing promise of God.

Jeremiah 31:33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

 

Notice then how we respond to the Law:

Lord have mercy upon us

                    Christ have mercy upon us

                    Lord have mercy upon us

The Kyrie is one of the oldest songs of the Church dating back to at least 175 AD.  It bases our response to the requirements of the Law on God’s promise to forgive our sins and to write the Law on our hearts. Importance: the dual nature of the Law (as promise and requirement) remains a major theme through out the entire liturgy. Over and again the liturgy reminds us of our obligation to serve and follow Christ as God determines. At the same time, the liturgy never allows us to forget our utter dependence on God’s grace to do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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