Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
New and improved is no match for tried and true
It is a wonderful thing to be part of a liturgical church. Because the ancient liturgy itself, that is: the ordered worship, is such a wonderful thing.
The ancient liturgy, as it was restored to the Church of Christ at the Reformation, and has been restored at other times when it was lost to her, is Biblical. With its words it proclaims the salvation of God, how the Son of God, who is God Himself from eternity, gave Himself over to suffer and die for our sin, and how He won the victory for us over death and the devil and all enemies of life, and how He now comes to His Church and gives Himself to her, with all that He is, and with all that is His.The dignified reverence of liturgical worship, on the other hand, reminds us of who God is, and who we are before Him. It reminds us of how neither His salvation nor our sin should be taken lightly, as a casual matter. Being in the presence of the Almighty calls for reverence and awe.
In its form the ancient liturgy is a joyful celebration of the salvation of God. It lifts our minds above the struggles and sorrows of common life. But it does so, not by encouraging us to ignore real life as it really is, nor by manipulating us into pretending that we feel differently than we actually feel.; rather, as we come before the face of God, burdened by our life as it really is, we are made to look into the realities of God and know that the realities of this life are not all there is. We are made to look to the realities of God, what His love has done for us, and what His love has won for us, and what shall be given to us, and that it is all already ours when we look to Him in faith, even though it is not what we see when we look to the world around us, nor when we look inside ourselves. The liturgy reminds us that my life with God is what is real – even though it is not what I feel.
The ancient liturgy is the worship of the Church of Christ throughout all generations. It is the testimony of how God has preserved the faith once for all delivered to the saints throughout the ages. In the ancient liturgy we join in fellowship with the Christians who were before us, and those who shall come after us, unless the Lord will come in glory very soon – “and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ”, as the holy Apostle John writes it.
Entering into the worship of the ancient liturgy I come before God in worship, not to present my own truth, but rather to hear and receive His truth, as He has entrusted it to His Church. And I get to speak to Him with words that are not born out of my own heart, but rather out of the heart of God. And that is good, for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, as our Lord Jesus has said it, and out of the heart of man comes but evil and ungodliness, whereas only good gifts come down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. I get to lay my own thoughts and struggles with the faith aside, and everything else that is myself and my own, and joyfully join the Church of Christ in her confession of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
And that is what the word “confession” means: to accept and submit to that which is presented to me, rather than to hold on to my own understanding and demands.
In the Biblical fullness of the ancient liturgy the truth is there for me to enter into. I am reminded that I do not have to create my own realities. The realities of God are presented to me as my own reality, which I have in common with Christians of all ages, and of all tongues and tribes.
For a Pastor in particular is it a wonderful thing to be part of a liturgical church. It means that there is so much that is not up to me. The magnificent ancient liturgy, restored in the Lutheran Church, makes sure that the congregation will always have the Word of God presented to her, with all its wealth of salvation, even if I should be having a bad day, or week, or month, or life – which I might very well have. That takes a great weight of my shoulders. And it rescues my congregations from my shortcomings.
For so many reasons, and in so many ways, new and improved just doesn’t measure up to that which is tried and true.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem