Saturday, December 19, 2009

Notes on the Liturgy of the Gospel of Matthew

In compiling this order of service, I kept the liturgical format because it sticks so close to Scripture and makes a conscious effort to encompass all of the Bible in its readings, all of Jesus' life and ministry in its scope, all the world in its prayers and outreach. Still, I wanted this liturgy to have not just its words but also its structure -- its table of contents, as it were -- shaped by how Matthew shows us Jesus. With that in mind:
  • Because Matthew's gospel starts with John the Baptist then Jesus baptizing and calling to repentance, the order of service starts with the invocation from the baptismal words and the call to repentance.
  • The prayer for enemies is a separate section in its own right and follows the thanksgiving for our own forgiveness, like the Lord's prayer and Jesus' comments on it, or the parable of the unmerciful servant. Jesus' call to pray for our enemies shapes the liturgy.
  • The preparation for the offering includes Jesus' call to reconcile first with those we have wronged, as Jesus taught us.
  • The seasonal sentences acknowledge the practice of thanking God especially for certain blessings commemorated at certain times of the year.
  • The confession of faith -- the Nicene Creed -- is included both as the church's historic confession and because of how it is itself framed on Scripture.
  • As Matthew's gospel ends with Jesus sending forth his people to make disciples, this order of service ends the same way. Jesus' concluding promise to be with us is the final word of Jesus in Matthew's gospel, and is here the final proclamation of the minister to the people.

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