Friday, July 27, 2007

Liturgy and the meaning of salvation

I can’t remember the time I last attended a liturgical worship. All I know was that I only experience high liturgical worship in a Catholic church. The majestic cathedral, stained glasses, paintings, arts, sculptured saints and the celebration of the mass add up to a mystical experience. Although I believe these elements do not make our worship right, they are factors for worshipers to have the sense of mystery.

I still like the “formal” way of doing worship. It means there is a certain order of worship that the congregation follows like call to worship, prayers, Scripture reading, preaching and the observance of the Lord Supper. This is the closest thing I have been experiencing liturgical worship. Contemporary churches seem to loose the importance of orderly worship. Most of the churches I have been attending regardless of denomination have been doing their worship service very informally. The program usually goes like this: there is an extended repeated singing sprinkled with short prayers followed an extended repeated sermon and an extended and repeated altar call. And sometimes the Eucharist is done while the extended repeated singing is going on.

In the early church, liturgy was very important. It is through the liturgical worship that the average person caught the vision of the meaning of salvation. Historians of theology continually face the problem of trying to determine the average person was thinking while the intellectual theologians were discussing profound theological issues. The early Christians sensed that in the liturgies they understand the meaning of their salvation. The theme of Christ as deliverer was apparent in their worship services, which I believe is not possible to a human-centered style of programs. The early church believe that there was no more dramatic renunciation of Satan, his pomp and service in the baptismal rites of Easter vigil. The exorcisms stressed the expulsion of evil forces from the candidate and away from their old garments as a symbol. Images of deliverance included the creation and the flood. Biblical symbolisms abound in the liturgical worship of the early Christians that for me seems to be lacking today.

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