Humility and the Liturgy

At church this morning, I had an interesting discussion.  The lady who was supposed to lead the liturgy part of the service today is away at a basketball game (which, if I’m not mistaken, is the state championship), and so somebody else (whom I’ll call Joel) was asked to take her place.  Joel was telling me that he’ll be leading the liturgy, but he went on to say that he’s humble about it.  I was a little surprised that he was making such a big deal about leading the liturgy, so I said to him, “Well, it’s the liturgy.  You go up there, and you read it!”  I think that I came across as more tactful when I said those words than my comments may appear in written form.

I’m personally the type who just goes up to the front and reads the liturgy, without worrying about whether I’m spiritually worthy or sufficiently humble.  Maybe that’s because I’m eager for the liturgy to be over so that I can return to my seat.  I’m focused on the task at hand.  Plus, deep down, I don’t think that leading the liturgy is something that should make me overly proud.  It does not exactly tax my skills or talents!  I just get up there and read.

But some people at my church are afraid of leading the liturgy.  They fear that they’ll make a mistake and be judged for it. I suppose that I could make a mistake.  Come to think of it, I one time did: the Pastor Emeritus was leading the service, and I didn’t know that I was supposed to introduce the service; rather, I thought that he was supposed to introduce it, and then I’d do my part.  But I wasn’t judged for my mistake, as far as I know.  And, even if I was, I don’t know about it.  Maybe I could head up to the front and trip, but that doesn’t worry me a great deal.  Plus, people at my church are nice people, so I doubt that they’d be too hard on me were I to trip!

While I myself don’t take leading the liturgy as seriously as Joel does, I do admire his seriousness and his desire to be humble.  Joel recognizes that the liturgy is a sacred event.  It’s a time when we read prayers and hear words of assurance.  Granted, that can become a rote act.  Some people may read those words without paying much attention to them.  But the liturgy can be a time of personal growth, as we confess our faults and receive God’s assurance.

I suppose that, where I struggle with pride, it’s in the area of preaching and making comments in my Bible study group.  That’s where I need to be humble.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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