What essentially defines the liturgical church, aside from the regular receiving of Holy Communion, is the systematic reading of the entire Bible over a three-year period by assigned readings in a Common Lectionary. Each 0f the three yearly assignment make up a Liturgical Year or Church Year.
This cycle introduces seasons such as Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost which roughly relate to the Jewish Calendar and the appointed feast days of God. (See Calendar.) As we advance through these seasons we trace the ministry of Jesus from his birth, baptism, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and the pouring out of the gift of the Holy Spirit which birthed the Church.
Why a fixed schedule of readings? This follows the ancient tradition of the synagogue that was in effect in the time of Christ. Jesus was asked to read the assigned text in His hometown. Do such readings limit the preacher’s range of options 0r, perhaps, hamper the Holy Spirit from acting freely in the sermon preparation? Not necessarily, although they could if not properly understood. Jesus preached under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We must do likewise.
The Lectionary essentially gives three readings: from a Book of the Old Testament, from a New Testament Epistle, and from the Gospel, together with a responsive reading from the Book of Psalms. These resources should offer a broad range of preaching material. But what if they do not fit the sermon the preacher had in mind. The problem is with the word “sermon.” We are not preaching sermons. We are giving a prophetic word from the appointed scriptures. Appointed means we must preach from the whole of scripture. It is too easy to neglect parts of scripture in favor of parts that we find of personal interest.
Which one of readings should we give emphasis in our preaching? Usually the answer is not any one in particular but rather we should preach from the whole of the readings. They often fit together because it is quite evident that they were carefully selected. It is often better to interpret any one scripture in context with other scriptures. Of course the appointed readings may suggest other readings from the Bible. Nothing should prevent us from bringing in additional readings.
The liturgy, when properly used should help open doors to God and not close them. Good liturgy is not designed to restrict the Holy Spirit. Rather, the Spirit has helped establish and refine much of our liturgy over many years. Our liturgy today is the liturgy of the Synagogue with the added feature of Holy Communion as ordained by Jesus.
The liturgy helps prepare people for the receiving of Holy Communion. It is a type of altar call. People need to hear the word, reflect on the word, pray for the Church, have private pray that offers a time of confession and repentance. This prepares them to offer up praise to God as they anticipate receiving his presence through the body of blood of Jesus
We are to:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;[
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name. (Psalm 100:1-4)
The communion offers a time of heading and deliverance. It is a type of altar call where everyone comes forward to the altar. (See Altar Call)
Does this type of service work? Why not give it a try?