by Matthew B. Harper
Mark 2:27 – Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
One of the greatest gifts we have in the modern church, the gift of the Liturgy. Our book of Common Prayer contains prayers and orders of service that date back to the first days of the Apostolic Fathers. It has been changed and revised over the years to meet our changing needs, but that is only the evolution of something rooted in our foundation in Christ.
But we cannot become a slave to ritual. One thing I learned, even as a young child, is that the liturgy and ritual is to help us, not God. God does not need the right words, or the right orders of service, to do God’s work. As a child at Shrinemont summer camp I remember celebrating Christmas in July. How could this be, I wondered. But December 25 is just a day; Christmas is any day that we celebrate the birth of our Lord; just as we celebrate Easter with every prayer, and every praise. So we had Christmas in the middle of the summer.
Since then I have seen classrooms, gymnasiums, and prison visiting rooms turned into chapels, and seen communion given with water and Ritz crackers, and God has done God’s work.
I miss the liturgy. When an Episcopal priest celebrated communion with me simply hearing the words I know so well was a gift, and a blessing. But I know that all of our Prayer Book, and all of our Theology, is subservient to God, not the other way around.
Today is Saturday, the day of the Jewish Sabbath, and Christ is Lord of the Sabbath.
“By the mystery of thy holy incarnation; by thy holy Nativity and submission to the Law; by thy Baptism, Fasting, and Temptation, Good Lord deliver us.” BCP 149