The Laity and Liturgy

The word “liturgy” means “work of the people.”  In a liturgical church, the Pastor may lead the worship service, but it is truly a work of everyone there; that is, the laity.

In his book, Prayer, Richard Foster classifies the liturgy as sacramental prayer.  Although some may protest that it encourages people to pray by rote and without emotional involvement, Foster says this kind of prayer can be freeing for the following reasons:

  1. It helps us to pray when we are feeling spent or inarticulate. There are many times when I don’t really feel like praying, but going to church on Sunday reinforces the habit of prayer and gets me back on track.
  2. It unites us with the “communion of saints” and reminds us that we’re part of something much bigger than we are as individuals, or even as our local congregation. When I visit a different Lutheran church on vacation and settle into a familiar liturgy, I feel instantly at home.
  3. It squashes the need to be entertaining. Anybody can do the liturgy.  You don’t have to have a way with words, or an outgoing personality.  Children quickly pick it up!  As an introvert, it helps me stop worrying about, “what am I going to say next?”  For me, it keeps the focus to remain on God, not the pray-er.
  4. The formality of the liturgy reminds us that God is awesome and should be approached with respect. He is the creator and we are His creatures.  Worship, in my mind, should be different from day-to-day life.
  5. Here’s my favorite: the liturgy keeps us from thinking we can practice religion privately.  It’s the work of the community, the people of God.  Foster describes it this way:

“It is so very human of us to allow our petty concerns to be the whole burden of our prayer.  Now it is not wrong to pray over our own pressing needs, but that must never be the end of our prayer work.  Through the liturgy we are constantly being brought back to the life of the whole community; we are constantly being confronted with sound doctrine;  we are constantly being forced to hear the whimper of the poor and see the tumult of nations.”

So next time you think about skipping your weekly worship service, think again.  You’re needed.  You don’t have to be the Pastor, or the reader, or in the choir. You’re not “the audience.”  It’s part of your work as a Christian lay person to support the community in worship.  Be there.

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Martin Luther and the Book of Psalms

“Where does one find finer words of joy than in the psalms of praise and thanksgiving?  There you look into the hearts of all saints, as into fair and pleasant gardens, yes as into heaven itself.  There you see what fine and pleasant flowers of the heart spring up from all sorts of fair and happy thoughts toward God, because of His blessings.”

Martin Luther

The Book of Psalms was the songbook of the Israelites.  Many churches still chant or sing the Psalms today. A multitude of  hymns and Christian songs are based on a particular psalm. Luther called this book “the Bible in miniature” and took particular comfort in reading the Psalms. His most famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress, is a paraphrase of Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble

Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change,

though the mountains shake  in the heart of the sea;

though the waters roar and foam though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

What’s your favorite Psalm?  Is it used in worship or a song that you love?  I’m hoping our authors and readers will weigh in on this.

New Month/New Theme

Wow, it is hard to believe that yet another month has gone by.  Not only that but another year.  This month the focus will be on music.  We believe that music is an important part of worship and since we recently reviewed the book “Sing”, we have been inspired to delve deeper into the subject.

On a different note:

 

As 2017 comes to an end, my fellow writers and I want to thank each and every one of our readers for their support.  With your encouragement and that support, we have blossomed into a platform of God through out the world.  Of course, we are aware the God himself has had a hand in this, but without people following His voice to us, we would not be able to spread His word and love.  As we head into the new year, I look forward to continuing His work through this blog and hope that each and every one of you know how much you mean to all of us here.

Always remember, never forget

God Loves You And So Do We

Trying to Read God’s Mind

This morning, as part of my devotional time, I was reading from a book, When God Says “Wait”, by Elizabeth Laing Thompson (sidebar:  I got this as a free Kindle book from Book Bub).  This morning’s chapter discussed some of the unpleasant thoughts we have when we’re waiting;  often we come to the conclusion that God is angry and is punishing us.  Then the author makes a very good point:  WE CAN’T READ GOD’S MIND!  The Bible makes this very clear in the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8-9

If you read closely, you’ll see that we’re not only incapable of reading God’s mind, when we try we’re almost certain to get it wrong — He just doesn’t think the way we do.  So, what do we do when we want to know God’s will?  When we want to know why some dreadful thing is happening to us?  When we have questions about the purpose of our life?

I think we have to go back to a previous blog post I did, “Agree in the Lord, Example #1.”  In that post, I talked about the fact that we can’t read the mind of other people — if we’re upset about something they said or did, the best course is to go and talk to them directly.  The same holds true with God — when I don’t understand or don’t like something that’s going on in my life, I need to go and talk to Him about it.  The most important way to do this is prayer:  pray, pray, pray and then pray some more.  It also means studying His word, because often that is how God speaks to me.  It means attending worship — another opportunity to listen to His word through the readings, sermon and hymns.

Does this mean I’ll always get a quick and clear answer?  Well, no.  It does mean I’ll have a relationship with God.  I’ll come to a better knowledge and understanding of His character.  I’ll mature in wisdom and discernment.  I’ll trust Him, even when I don’t know all the answers.

Have questions?  Go to the primary source;  go to God.

Contractual . . .

Hosea 13:4-6

“Yet I have been the LORD your God Since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no savior besides Me. I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.”

I read, ‘ . . . And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me.” And I think that Christians need to remember those words. Not because we need to tell others about the words of warning God spoke, but because Christians need to warn each other. God makes a promise and we all know he’ll keep it. We certainly balk if we feel he hasn’t or won’t; yet how easily we forget that long ago we agreed to uphold our part of a binding contract.

We are a government, people, society, even world of contracts. Paper work to verify other paper work to ensure promise of words written and said in processes of purchases, acquisitions, and agreements of all kinds. And we have laws that force any who would dare usurp such paperwork as this.

How hypocritical we all are. Christians descended of Jews who are descended of Abraham, Father of nations made a promise. To follow God, worship only Him, and to do so by obeying His will. Which, I might add, only looks to provide us the best and safest option. In other words, His will would never wish His people harm or leave us wanting. Yet we’ve strayed, and forgotten over and over that our God loves us and that we also made a promise. We have grown comfortable by the blessings He gives and in our comfort and satisfaction we forget who gives it. We think it must have been our own doing. That the ‘stars aligned’ and all our efforts came to bear fruit of prosperity and peace. But from where did we get the money? A job, the employer, the company, a city, the state, country; have all those things including the political web of red tape and regulations, with the world chess pieces of military power all been a product of our own hand?

God might ask us as He did Job if we laid the foundations of the earth and hung the stars and moon. No, we simply reap the benefits if we only obey putting one foot in front of the other. We must be cautious, and not forget when we sit on our soft couch in our warm homes just who made it all possible. Good for us we have a really big note a.k.a. the Bible, so that we can read it and remember not just God’s promises which are faithful, but our own.

Walking in Obedience

I am posting this for Becky, a Lutheran lady from St. Paul’s who does not use the computer, but likes to write.  She is one of our adult Sunday School teachers.  I hope you enjoy her thoughts on this month’s topic, obedience.

A Christian is called to obedience and discipleship.  God is to be loved and listened to and obeyed.

“The Lord our God is one Lord and you shall love Him with all your heart and soul and might” Deuteronomy 6:4 (the law of love)

Be exclusively devoted to God and learn His commandments and obey them.  Our entire being must be totally committed and obedient–our total being with love–our absolute devotion to God with all we have.  We need to seek the truth.  His word is truth and needs to be known and obeyed.  When we worship, we come together before a loving God to honor Him for His greatness and focus on listening to hear His Holy Word.  We have to be exposed to the Word and open our hearts to transformation through faith and obedience.  Willing obedience is the response of gratitude for the gift of eternal life.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  John 14:15

We respond to God’s promises and commands out of love and gratitude and devotion to Him.  In lifting our hearts to God and being instructed by Him, we express our love for Him.  God commands us to be consistent in our Christian conduct.  What we profess must be revealed in our actions.  Where words and deeds are in harmony, faith and works go hand in hand.

With the perfect obedience of Jesus, we, through faith and love can now in Christ obey God and be saved(Romans 5:19).  Christ’s obedience teaches us obedience through believing in His saving work.  We join with Him and receive the promise of eternal salvation.

“Who in the days of His flesh, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered.”  Hebrews 5:8

Doing good to others is part of our commitment to God.

“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments.”  1 John 5:2

Our walk of obedience to God gives us a heart guided and nurtured by the Holy Spirit in all areas of our lives to grow in our love for Jesus.  May we each offer ourselves to God in trust and obedience.

 

 

 

New Month/New Theme

Can you believe it’s November already? This is my husband’s favorite time of the year.  The air is turning crisp and cool (he likes cool, I like warm).  The fall decorations have been brought out at church — pumpkins, gourds, apples, and other symbols of a successful harvest surround the altar area. The scenery is beautiful as the leaves change colors. We’re looking forward to our annual November trip to South Carolina to visit our daughter, Kate and her husband.

Most of all, November is a time for giving thanks.  As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to stop and reflect.  Am I thankful?  (I should be).  Why am I thankful? (God has given me many good gifts, starting with His son, Jesus).  How do I show my thanks? (do I worship and praise Him?  Do I pass His love on?)

All of these questions are food for thought, and I know the Lutheran Ladies will be discussing these ideas and more this month.  So spend some quality time giving thanks, read our posts, and tell us how giving thanks makes a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.

God loves you and so do we!

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