Gordon SWakefield

There are some definitions from which one would deduce that Liturgy and Spirituality are one and the same. Regin Prenter has said that 'Liturgy is service, and every human service, whatever its content, consists in serving God. Thus our whole life may be called a service to God i.e. a liturgy.' He goes on to maintain that liturgy 'is a most comprehensive term consisting of the whole of Christian life' (Prenter 1977:139, 140). This is implied in the favoured dismissals at the end of some new rites, which, after a blessing, send the people, out, as in the Methodist Sunday Service of 1975, 'to live and work to God's praise and glory', and in an essay of the English Joint Liturgical Group on 'The Liturgy after the Liturgy', 'Christian worship and Christian living constitute a single liturgy' (Hunter 1988:140). It is almost identical with Alexander Schmemann's preference for speaking of 'the Christian life' rather than 'spirituality', a term which, he says, has become

Ambiguous and confusing. For many people it means some mysterious and self— contained activity, a secret which can be broken into by the study of some 'spiritual techniques'. (T)he very essence of Christian spirituality is that it concerns and embraces the whole life. The new life which St Paul defines as 'living in the spirit and walking in the spirit' (Gal. 5:25) is not another life and not a substitute; it is the same life given to us by God, but renewed, transformed and transfigured by the Holy Spirit.

(Schmemann 1976:107)

We may applaud both Prenter and Schmemann, but liturgy for our purpose is restricted to communal worship, prescribed and ordered, embodied, if not in set and authorized forms, in procedures and customs which include certain invariable elements such as praise, penitence, intercession and the reading and exposition of Scripture. As its historic Christian norm, it involves and centres on fidelity to what was believed to be Christ's command in the Upper Room on his betrayal night, to take bread and wine and eat and drink in remembrance of him.

In the New Testament, worship is a spiritual activity, inspired by the Holy

Spirit, though in danger of being invaded by an enthusiasm, a spirit-possession which could deny Christ. For the early Christians, the sacrifice they offered was of themselves, their whole lives (Rom. 12:1). It was also the sacrifice of praise, 'the tribute of lips which acknowledge [God's] name', but offered 'through Jesus' and his self-offering, inclusive and made once for all (Heb. 13:15). The temple was no material edifice but the Christians themselves indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:9b-17).

While this gave to the worship of Christians a great freedom from rites and ceremonies, they inherited certain liturgical forms, the Psalms and syna— gogue prayers. At first, according to the Acts of the Apostles, their leaders attended the prayers in the temple at Jerusalem. They believed that the Lord himself had given them a prayer, which in some manuscripts is concluded with a liturgical form—'for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory'— (Luke 11:2f; Matt. 6:9ff, Rom. 8:15) and they devised liturgical forms and hymns of their own (Phil. 2:5-11; Eph. 5:14; 1 Tim. 3:16). And the eating of bread and drinking of wine, believed to have been instituted by Christ himself, had, it would seem, originally a sevenfold shape, taking, giving thanks, breaking and distributing the bread, taking, giving thanks, distributing the wine.

Positive Thinking As The Key To Success

Positive Thinking As The Key To Success

Download this Guide and Discover How To Find And Monetize on Your Expertise And Strengths. Inside this special report, you'll discover: How positive thinking is one of the key factors in a successful life. Five ways and tools to help you stay positive. Use these to help you keep on track. Case studies that'll inspire you to stick to your dreams. Plus much, much more.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment