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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Liturgy as Biblical Worship

The Catholic Church is sometimes accused of being unbiblical. Today I wish to discuss the idea of worship through liturgy, as opposed to spontaneous worship.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that Liturgy is:

1069 The word “liturgy” originally meant a “public work” or a “service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.” [Cf. Jn 17:4] Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church.

So in the Liturgy, through ritual, we participate in the redemption that Christ won for us. It is through the Liturgy that we really get to touch Christ.

Now I have told you what Liturgy is, but is it Biblical?

I would not only say that Liturgy is Biblical, I would even say that the Bible itself is a liturgical book. Let me explain.

In the Greek Old Testament, it begins using the word Liturgy as far back as Exodus. The context of this word is always what the priests are doing in the temple. So all of those sacrifices which were very ritualized worship were ultimately fulfilled in Christ’s Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.

So again the worship that Israel had in the Old Testament was through liturgy.

Now did Christ then fulfill that Liturgy and abolish it? No, Christ fulfilled that old covenant liturgy and now we celebrate that fulfillment in our liturgy.

How then is the Bible a liturgical book?

Well liturgy isn’t a one way street, we come together to give God worship. But we also come together to receive from God his Son, and his instructions. The Bible was primarily meant to be heard by those who came together to worship God.

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.

Is this blessing restricted to this one book of the Bible? No way. Now where would there be a reader and those listening, but at an assembly. These are Holy writings so it would be read to those gathered to worship God and serve Him.

Does the New Testament talk about Liturgy?

It does. But of course it is hidden by translations. The greek word for Liturgy is just that litourgia - but it shows up in English as service, worship, minister, ministry, and sacrificial offering.

One more quote from the Catechism: 1070
In a liturgical celebration the Church is servant in the image of her Lord, the one “leitourgos”; [Cf. Heb 8:2, 6] (which I will quote below) she shares in Christ’s priesthood (worship), which is both prophetic (proclamation) and kingly (service of charity): The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.

Here is what Hebrews says about Jesus, the one minister.

Jesus is our…
Hebrews 8:2, 6 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man…But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

Luke 1:21-23 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple. … And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Romans 15:15-16 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:26-27 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem; they were pleased to do it, and indeed they are in debt to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings.

Finally we can’t forget that in heaven there is a liturgical celebration going on, and it is through the Mass that we are participating in it.

You know, so many people today say that they don’t go to Mass because they don’t get anything out of it. Why? Because they aren’t looking at it correctly, they are hoping to be entertained at Mass.

Liturgy is work! 6 days we have been given to work for the world. This is the day that we are called to work for God. You are suppose to be praying the prayers, not reciting them, or not even saying them.

And what if your trouble is you don’t think you aren’t getting anything out of it? What you are actually getting out of it is Salvation from Hell, and Eternal bliss. That’s all.

I use to be bored because I didn’t know what was going on, until I studied up on it, so I encourage more study.

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