Why do I use the Liturgy? Reasons 9, 10 and 11.

Previous articles, reasons 1-3, found here; reason 4 found here; reason 5 found here; reason 6 is found here; reason 7 is found here; and reason 8 is found here.

Why do I use the liturgy?  Reasons #9, #10, & #11.

 

  1. The liturgy is catholic and evangelical. Tested in the church.BJS_BruceTimmHave you ever heard someone say, “Oh, you belong to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – you think you will be the only ones in heaven.”  To set the record straight, that doctrine has never been taught in the LCMS or adopted by convention, and it isn’t found in the Scriptures or the Lutheran confessions.  Sometimes people accuse the Missouri Synod of being narrow minded.  This accusation is often the reaction to a public pronouncement by an LCMS pastor or congregation against false teaching or practice.

    The liturgy is a great testimony to the truth that we aren’t narrow minded or self-centered or that we think we’re the only Christians on earth.

    The liturgy is catholic with a small “c.”  The word catholic means universal.  Our liturgy has elements dating back to the Apostolic age.  It has been used by Christians on every continent and in every age.  The liturgy is filled with Scripture.  Over the course of history the church has dropped elements and added other elements.  It isn’t my liturgy or your liturgy or even the Lutheran liturgy.   It is a catholic liturgy — a gift to us from the saints who went before us (even before there were “Lutherans.”)   Isn’t it far more narrow minded to craft a service to meet the preferences and particularities of your individual congregation?  Isn’t it far more presumptuous for a pastor to imagine he knows better than his sainted elders or than the church catholic?

    Someone once said the liturgy is like a fine banquet, prepared over hours under the direction of a master chef.  Services that are cooked up on the pastor’s computer each week are like fast food meals – neither nutritious nor memorable.  Because the liturgy is catholic – spanning ages and places – it serves to feed us a nutritious and enduring meal – the meal of Christ in Word and Sacrament.

    The liturgy is also evangelical.   That means the liturgy serves to bring us the Gospel.  When I preach a poor sermon I receive comfort that we use the liturgy.  In the liturgy I know my congregation hears the Gospel.  In the Invocation your baptism is called to mind where God made you His own dear child.  In the Absolution you receive free and full pardon for your sins from Christ.  In the readings you hear a prophet, an apostle and an evangelist speak to you God’s Word and draw you to Christ.  In the Creed you confess all the God has done for you.  In the Lord’s Supper you receive the real and risen body and blood of Christ for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.  That doesn’t serve as an excuse for me to write poor sermons, but when the sermon is weak, the liturgy still delivers the Good News of Jesus to us.

     

  2. The liturgy brings us into heaven while on earth.Around the year 1000 AD, Prince Vladimir of Russia, a pagan, sent envoys to explore different religions and return to him with a report.  The envoys who visited the Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople returned with this report, “We knew not whether we were in heaven or earth… We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.”  Within a year Prince Vladimir was baptized into the Orthodox faith and Orthodoxy became the official religion of Russia.

    The liturgy brings Christ to earth and us to heaven.  Jesus locates Himself in His Word and Sacrament – wherever two or three are gathered in My name there am I in the midst of them. 

    By all that He does for us He brings us into heaven.  By our baptisms we are made God’s children.  By Absolution the Keys of the Kingdom (forgiveness) are used to open heaven’s door for us.  With our prayers we walk into God’s presence and petition Him for ourselves, the church and the world.  In the Lord’s Supper we sing with angels and archangels to the Lamb who was slain and now lives.  We dine not only with Christ, but we share the communion with the whole church on earth and in heaven.

    Here in Minnesota we enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, lakes, forests, beautiful night skies, crisp fall days in the woods, even a fresh covering of snow.  Many people imagine that their cabin in the woods or their boat on the lake is as close to heaven as they can be.  To be sure those places are peaceful and beautiful, but the closest you are to heaven is when Jesus is with you in His Word and Supper.  This truth, like so many in Scripture, is hidden from our eyes and revealed by the Spirit to faith.  The lake and the woods and the skies appear so more heavenly, but heaven is where Jesus has located Himself for you.

     

  3. The liturgy is the best at delivering Christ to us.The title of these posts is “Why do I use the liturgy?”  There is no Bible verse demanding that we use a liturgy.  There is no commandment that “Thou shalt use page 5 or 15 or 151.”  There will be Christians in heaven who do not use the liturgy. (Although the great majority will be from liturgical churches because the great majority of Christians in the world and throughout history have always used the liturgy.)  I am convinced that the very best worship service I can conduct is the liturgy – the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament.  What I hope you noticed throughout this series of articles is that every reason for using the liturgy is Jesus Christ.  I keep the liturgy for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of Jesus Christ, for the sake of those who hear, so that from the beginning of life until the end, people hear and receive the news and benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection for them.   Listed below, for one last time are the 11 reasons I have given.

     

 

  1. The liturgy rescues from the tyranny of the old Adam.
  2. The liturgy rescues from the tyranny of individualism.
  3. The liturgy rescues from the tyranny of contemporary culture.
  4. The liturgy was used in the garden of Eden.
  5. The liturgy teaches the young and sustains the old.
  6. The liturgy is boring.
  7. The liturgy is one of the most public witnesses of “synod” we can give to our members and the world.
  8. Using the hymnal prevents global warming.
  9. The liturgy is catholic and evangelical. Tested in the church.
  10. The liturgy brings us into heaven while on earth.
  11. The liturgy is the best at delivering Christ to us.

About Pastor Bruce Timm

Pastor Timm serves Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. He is married to Valerie and they have four children - three "mostly grown" daughters and one son at home. Pastor Timm was ordained in Lutheran Church - Canada in 1988 and served in the LCC until 2001 when he began serving Redeemer. He "enjoys" maintaining the fleet of cars he owns for his children, exercising his second amendment rights, and discovering the delights of single malt beverages from Scotland. He is a Saint Louis grad, but is regularly confused with graduates of Fort Wayne. He takes that as a compliment.

Comments

Why do I use the Liturgy? Reasons 9, 10 and 11. — 11 Comments

  1. The Divine Service or Mass touches my very heart. And at times it is hard to go to Church, but when I take the body and blood of Christ my heart is filled with joy. I thank you Pastor Bruce for talking about this subject.

    May God bless you and the Lutheran Church.

  2. I agree with Cody, the divine service truly is as beautiful as it is biblical. In fact, that was one of the things that drew me to Lutheranism: far from the “cold, dead, and distance” caricature that evangelicals and CoWo advocates use to depict the divine service, the divine service saturates the congregation with scripture and confessional doctrine.

  3. Eleven of the most eloquently worded reasons to use the liturgy. I pray COWO pastors read this and do a thorough self-examination after. Thank you, Pr. Timm.

  4. some of your reasons were hard for me to follow, but#1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10,11 are dead on target. #8 Preventing global warming? But that’s not a bad batting avg. OK, after rereading # 8 , I have to agree with that also. Grace and Peace, Jack

  5. “Isn’t it far more presumptuous for a pastor to imagine he knows better than his sainted elders or than the church catholic?”

    YES! Add to this that I am distracted by the need to “test the spirit” of whatever creative prayer or statement of confession such a presumptuous pastor wants me to say. All too often I find his efforts lacking.

  6. This has been a great series Pastor, but I’ll make one comment: From a confessional point of view #s 5 and 9 are why we as Lutherans “use” the historical liturgy (Apol XV). #s 1-4, 6-8, 10 and 11 are why we “love” the historical liturgy.

    It is truly meet right and salutary for us to attempt to share our love for the liturgy, but there’s a danger in any attempt to get Lutherans who currently reject it to use the liturgy BECAUSE it’s so great. The danger is we end up feeding their subjective misconception that we use the liturgy because we like it, and the corollary that they are free to use Schwarmer bologna because they like that.

    We need to get up on our hind legs, and simply say that Lutherans use the liturgy, period, and if you’re Lutheran you must use the liturgy (Again Apology XV). Once you do, you will see how great it is, but it’s not an open question w/in Lutheranism, and we can’t treat it as though it is.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  7. @Matt Mills #6

    Agree with your comments completely Matt. This was a rare attempt on my part to try to be winsome. Perhaps for the “mushy middle” in the worship wars these reasons might cause them to think and win them over. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

  8. @Matt Mills #6

    I would add that while I love the liturgy for all these reasons – there is objective fact and truth in each of these reasons (with the exception of global warming). Those facts may cause me to love the liturgy, but they are facts nonetheless, which those who choose to discard the liturgy, must also wrestle with. Does a new printed service order serve the old and young well? Is it catholic? Does it give witness to the Synod? Does it rescue from all the tyranny of sinful me? Does most contemporary music lift me to heaven or firmly ground me in my earthly musical tastes?

  9. I have difficulty understanding how the mere longevity of a practice can mean to some people that it has been “tested”. Entire false religions have existed for many centuries and continue to grow. Have they been “tested” too?

  10. @Carl H #9

    If the liturgy has been in use since the Garden of Eden, before the fall, it sort of obliterates all other “religions” when it comes to longevity. Just sayin.

  11. @Pr. Bruce Timm #8

    Does it give witness to the Synod?

    You’ll have to explain that one. I’ve heard “unser geliebte Synod” but I hadn’t thought of it as worship.

    OK I missed the explanation of No. 7. If you want to say Lutheran unity, it sounds better to someone who isn’t thinking in LCMS shorthand. There was a Lutheran church before a Missouri Synod.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.