Thoughts About Church (2)

When I started attending the Episcopal church I now attend, what struck me the most was the incredibly poetic language. The liturgy brought a level of quality to the language that seemed to impart the holiness of God.

Compared to the extemporaneous speaking at the non-liturgical churches I’ve grown up in, the liturgy was a welcome relief. I can count how many times I’ve heard that awkward “we’re so glad you came to our church” introduction, or how many rambling, bumbling prayers I’ve heard that are trying so hard to sound so pious.

There are certainly ups and downs to both liturgy and the extemporaneous style.

Liturgy can become stale and old from repitition. The extemporaneous style opens the door for theological inaccuracies, aside from the just plain goofy sentiments. On the other hand that open door also allows for God to speak in a free-flowing service. The liturgy offers moments for God to speak — it’s often amazing how God can speak in different ways through the same words — but also offers an historical and theologically correct skeleton for a church service. There’s a certain sense of communion in the fact that I’m repeating words that thousands of fellow believers have repeated before me. (I’ve often complained about the lack of historical context in the church I grew up in)

I don’t think fancy words are necessary in speaking to God. God will hear the bumbling prayers or pre-written prayers. Perhaps what I prefer in the liturgy has more to do with the church-goer than with God. I don’t think God gets wrapped up in what songs we sing, what words we say, or how we do any of those things, but he does care about our heart. And perhaps from my perspective, my heart is best quieted before God with a humble, yet poetic language that imparts history, theology, and in fact the very message of salvation.

Maybe that’s just immature, but that’s where I am. It always amazes me the diversity in the churches. God doesn’t give us much of set plan in the Bible for how to do church, yet we all find our own way. Sadly, we often get pretty set that our way of doing church is the correct way.

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