What is liturgy? Very simply, liturgy is the form of public worship that a body of Christ uses. Every church uses some form of liturgy, whether they know it or not. “Low” churches tend to be more modern, with a worship band, a preacher, and sometimes communion. This is a simple liturgy. “High” churches are more traditional, with an order of service that includes many more pieces, including communal prayer, public reading of scripture, and communion every week. These liturgies are more complex.
There’s no prescription for the order of service in the New Testament, so we cannot say that one is necessarily better than another. The church has adapted its modes of worship to fit with different cultures while remaining historically faithful to the faith once delivered for all.
Myself, I’m a hybrid. While my communal gatherings are on the lower end of the liturgical spectrum, I appreciate more complex liturgy in my daily life. My daily time with God uses a liturgical book that walks through scripture readings, led prayers, open prayers, songs, and more.
What are the dangers and advantages of complex liturgy? As a caution, this is what I have found in my life, and may or may not apply to you.
Listen and Learn 🎧
Song of Songs: Semi-Erotic Love Poetry - Wisdom E5 | BibleProject with Tim Mackie and John Collins 🎧 →
Until I listened to this episode of the BibleProject podcast, I never considered “Wisdom Literature” as a way to understand the Song of Songs. Yet the arguments that Dr. Mackie makes to understand the Song of Songs in that genre are compelling.
Tim talks quite a bit about the parallels between Proverbs 1-8 and the Song of Songs. Proverbs 1-8 uses a woman to talk about wisdom, and Mackie's (and others’) argument is that the Song of Songs is doing something similar. For example:
Lady Wisdom in Proverbs
“Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”
The Beloved in Song of Songs
Song 2:3-4, 6
“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love….
Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”
I enjoyed this deep dive into an under-appreciated and misunderstood book.