From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:
give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness,
and put upon us the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life
in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;
that in the last day,
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge both the quick and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
That about sums it up.
Thanks to John H, who always has some interesting things to say.
Todd Hunter’s Giving Church Another Chance is an interesting—and perhaps brilliant—little book. I am sure that this is not everything that Todd Hunter could say on the subjects of church, liturgy and life, but he says just enough to make you want more, which I believe is precisely the point.
Todd has a gift of being able to “reimage” things so that we see them in a different way. In this book, he has taken the elements of the Anglican liturgy and presents them not as merely a way to worship on Sunday mornings, but as a rhythm by which to live our lives. Without being overly critical of the Vineyard or other evangelical styles of worship, he nevertheless shows us that there are elements missing—not just from Sunday mornings, but from the way we live throughout the week.
He discusses, for example, how we have become addicted to noise and excitement to the point that we don’t even allow time for quiet in our corporate worship; rather than Sunday morning worship setting the pattern for our week, we have let how we live set the pattern for our worship. Todd simply suggests that we “repractice” church, learning once again the value of contemplation, Bible reading, giving, and so on. Furthermore, just as Israel had been intended to be the means to bless all mankind, this is now our calling, to be the Church for the sake of others.
Even those of us from liturgical backgrounds will be challenged by this book to take a step back and reevaluate our attitudes toward church, worship, and life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Todd Hunter to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Again, the Internet Monk has an interesting post in his series on “Evangelical Liturgy,” this time on the use (or non-use) of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. It has never occurred to me that any church would not subscribe to either of these creeds- in fact, I would have said that any church that didn’t hold to the creeds was heterodox. For that matter, I probably would still say this. Of course, not officially holding to the creeds doesn’t mean they don’t believe in them, but still…
I guess that just goes to show once again that I am obviously not – and never have been – an evangelical in the popular sense (Luther first used the word to refer to his theology).
I hate to post too much from Michael Spencer, but lately he’s had a lot of good things to say. He recently has begun a series looking at various forms of liturgy in use in churches we normally think of as non-liturgical. From #8 in the series:
In many evangelical churches, particularly those of a more contemporary flavor, public reading of the Bible is avoided. Scripture will be scattered across a few song lyrics and inserted as point prompts or proof texts in the sermon. There will be no scripture lessons, no reading of scripture outside of the use of scripture in some function of the service and no sense that extended scripture reading is a high and worthy use of time in worship.
Ironically, it will be the liturgical church and its scripture saturated service that will be called “liberal” by the Bible-waving, but not Bible reading evangelical church. Declarations of confidence in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God will dwell in puzzling juxtaposition with worship services where the most scripture encountered is in popcorned bits projected between film clips and other visuals.
It’s a point I have made here more than once. Those who claim they have the highest view of scripture (innerancy) certainly don’t act like it’s holy, and often the pastor plays fast and loose with his use of it.
Spencer’s goal, however, is to take a positive (or at least neutral) look at the various elements that can make up a standard evangelical worship service, which should prove interesting. You can see the into to the series here.
I have discussed with my wife and a few others the relative value of including more liturgical elements in evangelical worship. While there are benefits, I do question whether adding form – even Scripture reading – bridges the gap between traditionally non-liturgical and liturgical churches, if there is no theological foundation for it. It’s a question I haven’t answered yet.