Coming from an American-Evangelical/Pentecostal/Charismatic background as I have, the idea that a “liturgy” can really add much at all to the life of a true Christian is pretty anathema. Dead ritural or tradition that takes the place of a true experience of God, which must be “real” in the moment and from the heart – as if a liturgical expression excludes such a thing.
After a good number of years of being in a liturgical church, and particularly the past four years of being in a very liturgical church (Anglo-Catholic of the progressive kind), I am still learning the power and the prose of life within liturgy.
I like the way Rev Sam from Mersea Island, Essex, GB, on his blog Elizaphanian puts it (and this is only a small part of his complete post):
So that I can learn how to speak; and pray; and praise.
So that the centre of gravity does not lie in my own feelings and vocabulary but in the expression of the church.
It is not important how I feel when I say ‘Glory be to the Father…’; nor is it important how wholeheartedly I believe what I say. It is a question of obedience – feelings and thought will ebb and flow in my life, but the persistence of discipleship is primarily manifested through obedience.
Liturgy assumes a) that I don’t yet know all that I need to know about Christianity, and b) that the church has learnt some of what it needs to know about Christianity. Liturgy is how that learning is passed on, and developed.
Liturgy is mystery.