Why liturgy in the first place?

If you’re following this blog on Facebook, or directly, or via email subscription, chances are you’re already committed to the Anglican way of liturgical worship.  You may or may not have much to say about why you like or prefer liturgy over the free church tradition.  But you’ve probably been asked before by other Christians why you and/or your church worships the way it does.

Liturgy is not our “style”.  It is not our “flavor”.  It’s actually a part of who we are as Christians; it’s how we’re Christians.  Don’t fall into the trap of assuming or pretending that it’s a simple matter of preference.  No, it’s a principle.

For more on this, here’s a new video:

Subject Index:

  • 0:00 The challenge of understanding liturgy
  • 2:44 Why (and not why) we’re committed to liturgical worship
  • 6:15 Look at the whole, not the individual
  • 8:04 Many of us today struggle with liturgy

Reading 1 John in Eastertide

This evening we begin reading the epistle 1 John at Evening Prayer, and will go through it over the course of the whole week.  As I noted with 1 Peter a little while ago, this is an appropriate daily lectionary experience because it matches up with the Sunday Communion lectionary on one of the three years of its rotation.  It doesn’t match up perfectly in real time, of course, but the idea of reading 1 John in Eastertide is achieved both in Year B on Sundays and in the middle of May in daily Evening Prayer.

What makes 1 John an Easter-appropriate epistle such that it got assigned to this season in one year of the Communion lectionary?  In part, it’s an echo of the historic lectionary for Eastertide, which features 1 John and 1 Peter and James as the Epistle lessons through the season.  Digging deeper, the style of 1 John is very similar to the Gospel of St. John, which also gets heavy coverage in Eastertide and other major festal seasons and occasions throughout the year.  1 John has emphases on community, belonging, love, and release from sin, which all connect easily with the tradition of reading Acts in Eastertide, and the more general “result of the resurrection” frame of mind that this season is all about.

The opening prologue to 1 John also betray the unusual status of this book.  It is billed as an epistle of John but its writing style is much more like a homily or address.  Thus it makes for great reading and hearing but a far more difficult study than a more orderly epistle like those of St. Paul (at least in my opinion).  Despite the general challenge of making sense of how this book is structured and organized, the opening verses are one of my personal favorite passages of Scripture.

If you’d like a homily to accompany you in Evening Prayer today, here you go:

Three-fold Rule of Worship

Typically on this daily blog we look at specific pieces of advice or insight into some aspect or ingredient of the liturgy of the Anglican tradition.  Sometimes we’ve stepped back here to look at an entire season, but even that is still a fairly specific subject in the broad scheme of things.  Today we’re going very broad indeed: the “three-fold rule of Christian worship.”

Summarized briefly, the 3-fold rule, or Regula, is the balanced diet of Common Prayer (Daily Office), Sacramental Rites, and Private Prayer & Devotion.  The Anglican tradition, historically, has arguably the most ingenious execution of this three-fold rule, though it is a concept as old as the Bible itself.  Anyway, this is a model for understanding the total life of worship as a Christian; it was revolutionary for me in my own spiritual growth, and I hope it will be of value and insight for you as well.  So, without further ado:

Please bear with me, as I am new to the art and science of making videos.  Making eye contact from the pulpit with a congregation is quite different from making eye contact with a computer camera!  Don’t worry, I won’t inundate this blog or your inbox with videos now; but this is a new skill I’m looking into learning.  Hopefully my learning process won’t be too distracting for you.