World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

The Four Stages of Coming into the Liturgy

Pastor Jared Melius of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, Denver, CO wrote the following email outlining the four stages of coming into the Lutheran Liturgy. Enjoy!

1. Confusion – where am I? what page? am I supposed to be standing or sitting?

2. Boredom – This is the most dangerous phase. At this phase, people begin to conclude that because the liturgy is repetitive, that it is therefore non-spiritual. This conclusion is hardly ever thought out as such. It is just a matter of impressions and feelings. This “feels” dry, dull, non-spiritual. And therefore, it must be from man and not from God.

3. Love of the liturgy itself – If phase 2 didn’t drive people away from the liturgy, it is usually and ironically replaced by the love of the liturgy for the liturgy’s sake. Here people begin to love the “feeling,” the “reverence,” and the connection to history. They have a sense that this is old and therefore good. People in the depths of this phase can spend hours researching whether the Creed should come before the sermon or after, trying to find out which practice is more “ancient.” Truthfully, many pastors get stuck in this phase and endorse liturgical worship because it is older, more reverent, etc. Some of them leave for the Eastern church or the Roman church because they think they can get it more pure there.

4. Love of the content – The liturgy is a conduit for Word of God and the means of grace. There isn’t, in my opinion, a better such conduit on the market. If there were, I myself would adopt it. In this phase, one uses the liturgy for the sake of the Gospel itself, not for the sake of the liturgy itself.

1 Comment

  1. As a non-denominational evangelical young leader with a love of Scripture, I had wrangled with other leaders on how to work more Scripture into our “non-liturgical” service. What a joy to find so much Scripture woven throughout the historic Lutheran liturgy! And what great comfort to find Christ crucified for sinners given so freely in the same!

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