Why Weren’t We Told? Compiled and edited by Rex A. E. Hunt & John H. W. Smith: P46 Liturgy: Making Meaning in Community by M Mayman

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This was a very interesting session.  Liturgy originated as the term used to describe the unpaid work undertaken in service of the people of the city.  So in modern terms its volunteering; in the service other others; it is an activity ie work, given freely – unpaid.  So liturgy can’t be separated from the Community its activity serves and plays to both mystery and meaning ie ‘heart and head’.

In the church worship context, liturgy is the form of the whole of the service not just the bits where the congregation and the leader interact.  We identified approx 25-30 forms of activity in which the congregation and the leader could ‘work’ together.  To be most effective the ‘work’ of the congregation should aim to stimulate the 5 primary senses.

Liturgy should start quietly and gradually build up to a climax, give a feeling of a journey, going somewhere not just meandering.  The aim is to nourish the human spirit with words, images, music, scents; we noted that the ear enjoys repetition (hence the use of a standard service words and format eg use of the Anglican prayer book).

We now realise that the natural world is so unexpected, amazing, incredibly complex that there is no need to invoke a ‘super-natural’ dimension.  Mayman notes “Engaging in a progressive Christian liturgy enables us to tell a story in profound opposition to the individualism, consumerism and militarism that marks our world.” And further “Practicing liturgy invites us to live differently …. So we may live grateful for life, and compassionate towards other beings, open to mystery.”  We say Amen to that.

Ian Harris

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