"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
Last month we explored the confession of sins that prepares for our entrance into God’s presence. Through confession we are enabled to enter God’s house. We wipe our feet, as it were upon entering this home. Then having been cleansed we hear the joyous announcement of pardon for sin that our Lord alone can give! That is when we are prepared to sing his praises!
This is the Liturgy! It is the service of God’s word. The scripture is the structure of it all as we hear his words and respond in prayer and praise! This is what the Reformation was all about; bringing God’s people back to the word of our Savior Jesus Christ, while at the same time preserving forms in worship that extol and celebrate his truth!
So it is that liturgy is time tested. It is not bound to cultural change. However liturgy does not just look back it also looks ahead! It keeps us grounded in God’s words even as it points us to all that is to come! When we gather, we leave the world behind for a while as his church, which word means a gathering of ones “called out.” In a certain sense the liturgy we share is other worldly as we are given a taste of what is to come!
As his people we gather and are blessed in God’s word and presence. This is our goal at St. John, from the suggestions for service etiquette recently published to the hymns that are chosen each week for the service of God’s word. Liturgy is service. As it is historically understood liturgy is something done for and on behalf of others. Our Lutheran Confessions say that liturgy is work for the people. God sends his ambassador and makes his appeal for reconciliation. He works through the one ordained to speak and deliver God’s words and blessing. In this sense liturgy is the work of God for us all as his people!
At the center of the liturgy is a forgiving God. And God does not just forgive sins…He forgives sinners! Our response as his people is to believe and receive what he is present to give. Like the air we breathe this believing and receiving is a constant in the Christian life. What a blessing to be on the receiving end of God’s gifts! Yes, this is the Liturgy! It is God’s action among us!