What does “liturgical” mean?

We are asked this question all the time!  If it has any meaning for them at all, for some people,  the word “liturgical” conjures up images of “bells and smells” and funny hats! But at Christ Church, the word is related to three things we believe about worship:

1. We believe that worship is our first priority, and that God would have us worship Him in “spirit and in truth” (John 4.24), which involves worshiping with the “spirit and with the understanding” (I Corinthians 14.15) in an environment of order and peace (I Corinthians 14.33). Furthermore, we believe that the triune God Himself constitutes the heart of Christian worship, and that consequently, the rightful rhythm of our corporate worship is from Him to us; God speaks first, revealing Himself and his will though the “means of grace” (Word and Sacrament) and then we respond to that revelation through prayer, readings, music, and other aspects of worship.

2. We believe that the modern church is NOT called to “recreate the wheel” when it comes to worship, and that it should gratefully embrace the treasure trove of meaningful responses to God’s revelation created by that great “cloud of witnesses” which have gone before us.  Our worship, then, is largely organized according to settled forms and texts, commonly used across a broad spectrum of Christendom, including the use of a liturgical calendar of annual seasons and festivals which highlight and celebrate significant milestones in the story of the Christ.  While not opposed to creating and using our own appropriately reverent responses to God’s grace, nor to making necessary allowances for changed conditions in the church, Christ Church is fully committed to implementing traditional, historical forms of worship (in accordance with biblical principles) within the context of those changed conditions.

3. We believe that worship is NOT a “spectator sport.”  In many forms of worship extant in the church today, worshipers are often relegated to the role of “audience” whose main function is to watch the “show” playing out on the “stage” before them.  Liturgical worship, by contrast, seeks constantly to  involve the people in the worship event.  Indeed, the word “liturgy” means literally,  “the work of the people”.  Therefore, congregants at Christ Church should expect to read, pray, sing and otherwise actively respond to the Word of God among us.