What does this mean? Liturgy literally means, “the work of the people.” When we speak of liturgical worship, we are speaking of a form of worship which calls everyone to actively, personally, and passionately do the work of worship, beginning to end.
A liturgical style of worship, particularly one that is centered around Holy Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper), engages the believer in every human sense: seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and even smelling. And with our senses engaged, we have the joy to actively participate in the drama of the Gospel, the greatest truth, each time we gather as a corporate body.
Perhaps at the core of embracing liturgy is the belief that to engage in worship is to not be a spectator. In a practical sense, this means that a participant isn’t just listening to or admiring the worship of another, but their own heart, mind, and even body are participating in the act of worship itself.
Experiencing this type of service for the first time might give you the sense that if an early church father walked in the room, he would know exactly what was going on! A beautiful reality of a liturgical service is that Christians from all over the world and from every tongue and tribe can enter a service like this, perhaps not sharing a language or a cultural heritage, and can immediately experience worship with one another, in Spirit and Truth.
Liturgical worship looks incredibly different from the modern world. It, in some ways, is the opposite of Facebook, Twitter, and a fast-paced lifestyle. Liturgy forces you to slow down. When you kneel, you are not only expressing humility, but you are being made more humble. When you perform the sign of the cross, you are pressed to remember the literal intimacy of the Trinity and God’s complete provision for you. When you are anointed with oil, you are joining the ancients in proclaiming the power of the Holy Spirit and remembering God’s extravagant love for us. And when you are served the bread and wine, having first confessed your sins and passed the Peace of Christ to your neighbor, you are literally nourished with the only thing that can sustain you in this life: the body and blood of Jesus.
Because Holy Trinity, and many churches in the global Anglican communion, are diverse, the feel of the service from parish to parish can present itself quite differently. But across the world, the rhythms are the same. The drama of the Gospel is the same. And we are reminded that our God, who never changes, is the same.