Saturday, January 19, 2013

Was Our Worship Formal From the Beginning? A Quote from Massey Shepherd

Some would like to believe that in the beginning the church worshiped with minimal structure and form.  Today's churches that utilize casual formats for worship no doubt think that they are attempting to reach the world in a way no so different than the Early Church.  An insightful quote from the liturgical scholar Dr. Massey Shepherd offers a corrective:

The customs of worship among the Jews in the days of our Lord were very formal and liturgical, whether in the temple sacrifices, the Sabbath services of the synagogue, or even in the domestic rites of the home about the family table.  It is only natural that the forms and ideas of these Jewish liturgies, which nourished and blessed our Lord and His first disciples, should have been carried over into the worship of the Church. The Old Testament and its Psalms, the festivals of Passover and Pentecost, sacred meals, initiatory baptisms, confessions of faith in one God, forms of thanksgiving and of benediction, and, above all, the conception of true sacrifice as a humble and humble and contrite heart - all these things passed over from Judaism into Christian worship. --The Worship of the Church (The Seabury Press, 1952), 69.

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