The church and relevance

Today morning, I read on the BBC the Pope’s plan to text young Catholics when he attends the World Youth Day in Australia in July. About a year ago, they announced plans to build a solar roof on the Sala Nervi. No one can blame the Vatican for not getting with the times. Or can they? Last year, the Pope approved the return of the Latin Mass.

In a Christianity Today article, A Deeper Relevance, Mark Galli seeks to explain why (American) evangelicals are attracted to liturgy. He describes liturgy as “...the prayers, responses, and shape of worship one finds in Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox services…“. While I can’t say that I’d like to have my church services in Latin or Medieval English, he makes a strong point as to how the liturgy is relevant to today’s believer.

Galli quotes Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann who wrote, “The liturgy begins … as a real separation from the world.” The interesting thing is that this was the second time today I read that the Church should be noticeably different from the world. God must be driving a point home in my heart. I digress. Galli goes on by saying that in our search for relevance today, churches end up by targeting a specific group and leaving out the rest. The liturgy, “...draws us into worship that transcends our time and place.” Its purpose is that of enabling people to see God. He writes:

The liturgy, from beginning to end, is not about meeting our needs. The liturgy is about God. It’s not even about God-as-the-fulfiller-of-our-need-for-spiritual-meaning. It’s about God as he is himself: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is not about our blessedness but his. The liturgy immediately signals that our needs are not nearly as relevant as we imagine. There is something infinitely more worthy of our attention—something, someone, who lies outside the self.

And that is what piqued my interest. From my (undoubtedly limited and flawed) observation, for many church is about having their needs met— be they material, emotional or otherwise. It’s not about glorifying God for Who He is. And I get jaded and/or judgmental, so I’m certainly no better than anyone else.

We all need gentle and constant reminders that we’re on this earth to show forth God’s amazing and infinite grace. And incessantly thank Him for it.

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