Freedom in Liturgy

The goal of the Christian life is divinization, or theosis, that, is to become like Christ, to become like God. This goal is not easily attained. In fact it will never be attained in this life, but only in the one to come. The reason why the path to Christ-likeness is so difficult is because we are naturally rebellious against God and naturally adverse to doing the things required to complete this path (this is what it means to be sinful after all). So it is easy for us to become distracted and pursue something else instead of Christ, or to bind something together with the Gospel that is not part of the Gospel (e.g. political views).

One of the benefits of the liturgical life is that it sets boundaries for our attention and focuses it on the things which are beneficial in the pursuit of Christ-likeness, and prevents us from focusing on things that are harmful. The services focus our attention on God and prevent us from focusing our attention elsewhere. Morning Prayer directs our attention to the fact we are a part of God’s created order. Evening Prayer directs our attention to our inevitable deaths and eventual judgment before God. In Holy Communion our attention is directed to Jesus’ sacrifice and we receive grace through partaking of His body and blood. In all these services we confess our sinfulness and have Christ’s forgiveness declared and pronounced to us. Additionally, the liturgical year itself teaches us to view time in relation to God and His redemption of humanity through Christ.

Having now followed this life for the past few years I’ve noticed a change of focus in my life. I find myself mostly focused on whether or not I have obeyed God’s commands, meaning have I loved Him with my whole being and also loved my neighbor as myself? Not because I feel like I need to in order to gain God’s love or forgiveness, but because it is by continually fulfilling these two commandments that I (and we) stay on the path to Christ-likeness, which is what I really and honestly do desire.

In the end the liturgical life has given me freedom in my life. Freedom from things that distract me from the path to Christ-likeness, things such as cultural issues or political debates. And freedom to focus on things which lead me down the path to Christ-likeness, things such as the state of my own soul and purging sinful habits and thoughts from my life.

My interest in liturgy was piqued initially with a simple curiosity in the historical church and how they did things. But it is the freedom that I have found in the liturgy that has made me stay.

 

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One thought on “Freedom in Liturgy

  1. Craig

    Dear Tom,

    Re: “to bind something together with the Gospel that is not part of the Gospel (e.g. political views).”

    Although, of course, politics can be a distraction and/or an idol, ignoring politics in a democratic society such as the one in which we live constitutes shirking of Christian duty. It seems to me that if we are to take the Great Commission seriously, that duty to make more disciples can be greatly affected by political conditions.
    A recent example was Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and the cultural movements (unless one wants to make the argument of cultural equivalency) seeking protection under the “Progressive” agenda she and Obama represent. Had such regimes been allowed to continue in power, not only would Christians have to bake cakes against their consciences, but likely Christian Churches (under the resulting Supreme Court majorities) would have been forced to conduct gay “marriages” or lose tax exempt status, forcing some churches to stop operations altogether. Under such conditions, the overall ability of Christians in the USA to carry out the Great Commission would be greatly diminished. Thus, by ignoring politics in such a case, the American Christian would be ignoring his own duties under the Great Commission.
    There are many more examples of politics enhancing or hindering the spread of Christ’s kingdom on Earth, but my point is that being a Christian takes more than performing as such inside the Church walls, but also includes our actions outside, and although our fallen nature limits our abilities to have “pure” motivations in any scenario, we would be well served (as would God) by not ignoring the country around us and our democratically-provided opportunities to affect that country to the benefit and protection of God’s Church.

    Craig

    Reply

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