Guest article by Pr. Bruce Timm.
The liturgy is boring.
I am tempted to say, “Good” whenever anyone tells me the liturgy is boring. Air isn’t really exciting either, but that doesn’t stop me from breathing it. The meals at the Timm household aren’t always one dining adventure after another, but that has not prevented me from eating them.
From time to time, the air is filled with wonderful smells and it is a delight to breath, but I do not limit my breathing to the Springtime when flowers are blooming and rains are falling. We regularly have wonderful meals at our house, but those aren’t the only times I eat. So it is with the liturgy. Sometimes we partake of joyous, exciting, and refreshing feasts. Christmas, Easter, and Reformation are festivals that come to mind. However, many Sundays are regular, ordinary Word and Sacrament Sundays, about as normal as a sandwich and a salad. We might even consider them boring, but that should not stop us from hearing the Word or receiving the Sacrament. For these gifts of the Holy Spirit are the means of life. These are the only places where we have the certainty that the Holy Spirit is at work to deliver to us the forgiveness which Jesus won on the cross for us.
Do not misunderstand my point. We should never try to make the liturgy boring. On every Sunday, even the ordinary Sundays, the pastor, choir, organists, elders, and ushers should strive to offer their best to the Lord. The pastor should be diligent in his studies, in his writing and rehearsal of his sermon. The choir and organists should practice and prepare their musical offerings in accord with the menu set for that day. The ushers should be watchful and ready to serve. The elders should make sure everything is prepared for an orderly service. This is after all the Lord’s house, the Lord’s Word, and the Lord’s meal.
Regardless of the feelings we might have about a particular service or hymn or sermon, we should remember the liturgy is chiefly about life in Christ. The liturgy is nothing else than a feast of God’s Word, woven together by His faithful people over hundreds of years, to feed us Christ and His benefits. The angels in heaven, John the Baptist, aged Simeon, and many other Saints had a hand in preparing this feast for us.
When you are bored, recall what Luther taught you in the Small Catechism, “Where there is forgiveness of sins there is LIFE and salvation.” If the liturgy is boring to you, remember it is life. The liturgy is the framework in which Christ’s gifts are delivered to you. If you remember the liturgy is life, if you realize you are receiving the benefits of Christ’s death and resurrection, I don’t think you’ll be bored with it again, or at least your boredom will be overcome by your necessity of receiving forgiveness. What could be more exciting and enlivening than the forgiveness of your sins, the resurrection of your body, and the life everlasting? That is the feast set for you in the liturgy.