Thursday, June 04, 2009

Liturgy and the Gospel of Matthew

I have a slow-going pet project: reworking the ancient liturgies in their familiar formats, but making them 100% from Scripture: every word, every song, every response. Time permitting and God willing, I'd also like to re-do the music too, so that there is a Bach-and-Matthew liturgy, or a Handel-and-John liturgy, and so forth.

I have a theory about good Christian writings, not just the gospels and epistles but the whole corpus of Christian writings throughout the ages: that any author who truly understands God and his message will have material that automatically and instinctively covers basics of a liturgy. I suspect that a truly good and well-rounded Christian writer could have their own material selected and arranged to create a liturgy from their words, complete with invocation, confession and repentance, adoration, praise, prayers, appreciation of God's word, the sacrament, going forth into the world, blessing, and so forth. I expect you could create a liturgy of St.Augustine, a liturgy of C.S.Lewis, a liturgy of Therese of Lisieux ... and that each author would be able to fill the framework of the basics of Christian adoration of God and proclamation of Christ.

I'd like to offer one tiny installment tonight, an invitation to confession and the proclamation of forgiveness in a Liturgy of Matthew:

Invitation to confession:
P: Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt 9:12-13)

(I haven't worked out the wording of the confession yet.)

P: "The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Take heart; your sins are forgiven." (Matt 9:6, 2).


Chris Duckworth said...

I believe that the ELCA's 1995(?) worship supplement, With One Voice, has a setting of Holy Communion (or perhaps service of the Word) that is almost entirely based on Scripture, complete with citations in the margins.

Also, the ELCA's African American worship resource, This Far By Faith, contains an excellent essay called "The liturgy is biblical" (or something like that), with several scriptural passages cited for each element of the liturgy. You may want to check those out ...


Unknown said...

Fascinating project! Only now you've gotten me interested in diving in, too!

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Chris

Thanks for the tip.


Darrell: the more the merrier, right? No idea if our tastes are similar enough to collaborate or not, but you can consider the "belongs in a worship folder" part of this post as creative commons.

Can you just see doing the St Augustine liturgy on his commemoration day, etc.?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Unknown said...

What are the ground rules? Is it permitted to paraphrase, for example, by turning statements ABOUT God into prayers directed TO God, etc.? What do you do about set pieces like the Kyrie and Sursum Corda? Leave them as they are or look for in-text equivalent expressions? I've just rummaged a bit through Hebrews—fun stuff!

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi Darrell

I think on the prayers, we'd / anyone would almost have to change the POV on it. To take a simple example, if Jesus says, "Thank God for ___", then the liturgy ends up with a prayer, "Thank you, God, for ___", to me that's potato/potahto. And I know some things that deserve to be prayers will take more rewording than that. But to me it's what's in the blank, y'know, because "Always gives thanks for everything" is a freebie, & there are any number of blanket permissions in Scripture to turn anything into prayer, adoration, meditation, etc. ;)

I know you'll have fun with Hebrews. Part of Hebrews has been part of the liturgy for centuries. "In many and various ways, God spoke to his people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days he has spoken to us by his son."

Hope I'm not messing w/ your vacation too much. :)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Unknown said...

Thanks, WF. You're not messing with my vacation, but you *may* end up messing with my attempts to get back in the groove when I get home :-) As much as I love the traditional Sursum Corda, I've come up with a good "alternative" using the language of Hebrews, and there is a *lot* of language from which to build a Eucharistic prayer--perhaps too much! I'll post a draft of what I've come up with when I can.

Weekend Fisher said...

How cool is that. I can hardly wait to see. !!!

Take care &God bless
Anne / WF