An End In Itself
In the LCMS today pastors are trying to revive the love of, and teach the importance of, the liturgy. Liturgical worship was standard procedure for Lutherans in America from the publication of the Common Service in the late 1800's, and for about 100 years thereafter when ecclesiastical mayhem took hold. The worship wars were on: traditional v. contemporary.
But the more the adherents of contemporary worship pushed the envelope, the traditionalists doubled down.
If only out of loyalty, and a distaste of the contemporary offerings, liturgical Lutherans began to study, defend and promote the church's historic liturgy. In so doing the latter have made great strides. They defended the church's Common Service (p. 15 or p 184) for the sake of tradition, which they began to understand is vitally important. Also on the grounds of familiarity, so that people could worship without struggling to learn new words every Sunday. Further on the grounds of standing the test of time. And for its ability to teach the faith.
Philipp Melanchthon says as much in AP XXIX "Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. (Source: https://bookofconcord.org/augsburg-confession/of-the-mass/#ac-xxiv-0002 )
It is undeniable that liturgy is the best teacher of the Faith is, but that is not liturgy's purpose. Indeed (if we may speak provocatively) Divine Liturgy has no purpose, no telos/end, but rather it is an end in itself.
Liturgy Is An End In Itself which we can only understand if we know WHAT Liturgy is. Liturgy is the factual worship of the Father "in Spirit and truth." (Jn 4:24). It doesn't lead to worship, or help us to worship but IS worship in and of itself. It is liturgy that constitutes and defines us as Christ's redeemed.
Were we to reduce our theme to a single sentence it could be this: Liturgy is Eucharist Is Worship. But regardless of the their order, the sum is the same.
Liturgy, if it can be said to have an end/telos it is this -- to reunite forgiven sinners to the Blessed Holy Trinity, so that the baptized can participate in the life of God. The life that God lives, even here and now.
And so the church does not liturgize (liturgy is also a verb) the Father simply because it is traditional, or orderly or instructive. But because to liturgize the Father in Spirit is the practice of the Holy Christian Religion.
And Divine Liturgy/ Divine Service never end. When we leave God's house we live the liturgical life in the world by conducting our lives as Christ's Holy People. We live, in a word, the baptismal life which the catechism defines for us thusly: "the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever."
Such knowledge, desire as well as the power to carry it out, proceeds from the altar, and leads back to it again, where we return to hear God speak to us again and again, and then using his own language speak back to him. This is worship! This is Liturgy.
Now the circuit formerly broken by sin, is closed. All is well. God and sinner reconciled.
The 121st Psalm says "May the LORD preserve your coming in and your going out from this time forth and even forever more." Liturgy is the pattern of our lives both inside of God's House and out in his world. Liturgy, like faith, hope and charity, never ends. It only changes venue when we die, which is why St. Paul confesses: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Phil. 1:21)
So as glorious as Divine Service is in this world, it is only a "foretaste of the feast to come." Liturgy then and liturgy now are not different in kind, but only in degree. Not in and of themselves, but in our ability to comprehend, receive and appreciate it. "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face."