Every once in a while someone at our church throws around the word liturgy. Because most of us don’t come from traditions that talked about liturgy at all or we’re from backgrounds that badmouthed it if they did, it’s easy to misunderstand.
Liturgy refers to a predetermined or prescribed set of practices in corporate worship. Every church, every one, has liturgy, whether or not they talk about it or whether it is obvious. A church that says, for example, “We don’t want to follow any liturgy, we want the Spirit to lead,” is at that moment, of course, making plans beforehand. To say, “We don’t want to focus on liturgy” is basically saying, “We don’t want to give thought to how we worship.”
Our liturgy is more obvious, though not too sophisticated. We don’t follow our order of service for sake of tradition, but for sake of the points it makes. Let me illustrate a point for those who still wonder about the point.
One part of our plan includes confessing our sins every Lord’s day. I usually offer a brief exhortation each week about a specific area that might need confession. But, do all of us remember what sins we confessed a year ago today? Do we remember what sins we confessed last Sunday?
Most of us probably don’t remember the details we confessed but we do remember that we did confess. If we forgot because we didn’t actually confess, then that’s no good. But if we confessed and can’t remember the specific sins, is there a point?
The liturgy of confession makes the point that, as long as we’re on earth, we still have sin. It makes the point that sin keeps us from fellowship with God and must be dealt with first. It makes the point that the gospel of Jesus has an answer for sin. It makes the point that if we confess our unfaithfulness, He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us. The liturgy of confession does us good because grace is greater than all our sin, no matter what our sins were that week.