The word ‘liturgy’ comes from two Greek words laos (laity) and ergos (work). It literally translates as “the work of the people (laity).” In other words, liturgy is what the people do and say when they gather together to worship. Contrary to popular belief, priests do not perform the liturgy. Liturgy is not primarily about the activity or words of the priests up front, but the participation and engagement of the people in the pews. Worshipping God through the liturgy is a deeply personal and public act. The words and actions of the liturgy are infused with meaning by the diverse minds, hearts, and bodies being bound together in one liturgy. Because liturgy is the work of the whole congregation, we will be hearing from different members of our congregation with their reflections on different parts of the liturgy.
To kick off this new series of reflections, I wanted to begin by offering my own reflections on two new liturgical actions which have recently been introduced into our worship: water and kneeling.
Beginning on Easter, we filled the baptismal font with holy water as we baptized Allan Joseph Bridwell. The font will be filled with water for the remaining season of Easter. Baptismal fonts in Anglican churches are usually located near the entrance to the Nave (Sanctuary). This is supposed to serve as a reminder for us that baptism is the means by which we enter the Church. Many Christians dip their fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross over themselves when they pass by the font as a reminder of their baptism. When we remember our baptism, we remember that it is by God’s grace alone we are saved.
With the installation of our new pews, we are finally able to kneel to pray! Kneeling is a biblical posture of prayer. It is a way that we show respect for God who is our Lord AND kneeling follows the example of Jesus. When Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father in the garden of Gethsemane, he knelt to pray. Kneeling reminds us that we are not the Lord of our lives. It reminds us that we should bend the knee to no one else. As Paul writes in Philippians 2, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is why we kneel to pray.