How Preaching Shapes Liturgy

Every church follows a form of liturgy, whether intentional or not

“Conscious attempt to frame proclamation and response in terms compatible with Scripture in general and the sermon text in particular helps keep liturgy biblical.  While this is essential for each of the elements of worship (prayer in its various foci, reading, singing), it is most necessary for the category, “seeing the word.”

 

Every church follows a form of liturgy, whether intentional or not.  Unfortunately, some churches tend toward two extremes in this matter.  Some traditions take liturgy very seriously, but treat it as if it exists independently from preaching.  Others uphold the priority of preaching as if necessary liturgical choices are only marginally important.  Instead, we must learn to treat both preaching and liturgy as essential to corporate worship; that they exist in a relationship of mutual dependence.

Assuming the priority of preaching in symbiotic relationship, biblical exposition shapes liturgy in several important ways.

Preaching gives content to liturgical rites.

Conscious attempt to frame proclamation and response in terms compatible with Scripture in general and the sermon text in particular helps keep liturgy biblical.  While this is essential for each of the elements of worship (prayer in its various foci, reading, singing), it is most necessary for the category, “seeing the word.”  The ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper reenact biblical truth, however preaching guides the worshiper’s understanding of the symbolism.  Unleashed from biblical preaching, the worshiper’s imagination, religious heritage, etc., will establish the significance of the rites—often erroneously.

Preaching harmonizes the elements of the liturgy.

When liturgy takes its cue from the preaching plan, all of the elements will work in consistent harmony.1  Harmony creates a unified message.2  Scriptures used (call to worship, readings, benediction) will support the sermon text.  Prayers will express the worshipers’ failures, forgiveness, and joys in relation to the issues raised in the sermon.  Hymn lyrics will set the larger scriptural context for the sermon or will follow the logical development of the sermon.

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