Six Major Emphases Of The Liturgical Movement

Themes: Liturgy, Scholar, Worship

The impact of the liturgical movement is felt not only among liturgical churches, but among nonliturgical churches as well. The emphases presented below characterize worship reform not only in Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran circles, but also the renewal of worship among Presbyterians, Methodists, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and other denominations of the mainline Protestant churches.

A Return to the Scripture. A return to the Scripture has provided us with more readings and a revised lectionary.… There is now a more holistic sense to the liturgical readings.… The word is addressed to the whole person and not simply to the intellect.… The biblical understanding of memorial now predominates in the theology of the liturgy.… Liturgy is not primarily a looking to a past event.… Liturgy lives out of the future; it is an anticipation of what life is to be like when we live in union with God and through Christ.

Recovery of the Experience of the Early Church. This return to the sources has helped Roman Catholics realize that all sacramental activity is in response to the Word of God and that the Eucharist cannot bear the burden of all of one’s worship life. It has meant for Anglicans and Protestants a renewed interest in the festive character of the Eucharist and the eucharistic prayer as praise and thanksgiving. This has resulted in more frequent eucharistic celebrations, as well as a less funereal character to the service of Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper.

A More Wholesome Ecclesiology. Ministry is no longer seen as the domain of the ordained, and the plurality of ministries is to find its reflection in the diversification of roles in the worshiping situation.

The Ecumenical Dimension of Worship. What is significant for liturgy is the convergence in the liturgical reforms of the various communions … probably more important than any specific liturgical agreement is the change in attitude wherein denominational differences no longer have the rigidity and intensity they once had.

Symbolism. To recover the fullness of the sign has always been a major point with those committed to liturgical reform. And much has been achieved here: a more generous anointing with oil, a greater experience of water in baptism, the extension of the cup to all. Today’s liturgical students and facilitators are much more conscious of the studies of anthropologists, the work of modern artists, and the writers and philosophers of symbolism, as well as how symbols operate and grow, and the difference between a symbol, which sets up a situation of encounter, and a sign, which points away from itself to an absent reality.

Liturgy and Culture. This final plank of the liturgical movement’s platform is the area where there is still the most to achieve. Up to the present, the liturgical reforms have been for a universal church and have been put together by experts known more for their sense of history, theology, and pastoral practice than for attention to national and ethnic differences.

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