What Is Your Name?
Part of the reason for the gross liturgical confusion that reigns in western Christianity is that we don't know the proper designation for the thing in which the church catholic engages every Lord's (Christ's) Day.
The Greek Church gets it right so let's start there. Among them the Sunday morning event is called: The Divine And Holy Liturgy. When you drive by their churches and look at their sign is says: "Divine Liturgy 9:30" or simply "Liturgy 9:30" As far as I can tell this is the only clear designation known in the English language. (see below for definition of liturgy)
Without going into several languages let is suffice for now to say that: liturgy, service and worship are equivalents that originate from Greek, Latin and English. But one would never know it, especially since the possessive "God's" has been dropped from service and worship (but is still in full use in Orthodoxy). Rightly these should be called: God's Service and God's Worship.
The question then becomes is God the doer of the action, or the object of the action. Our first thought, because we all breathe the air of the Radical (and not the Lutheran) Reformation, is to make us the doers, and God the object. This is not untrue, but it puts the cart before the horse. The first Christian instinct must be: "We love him because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19). Some employ the slogan: the praise goes up and the blessings come down. But that is driving the wrong way on a one way street.
First the blessings of divine creation, redemption and sanctification come down to sinners who are then converted and reconciled to God by his love, and offer him prayer, praise and thanksgiving (eucharistia) in return. That is the Christian order and constitutes Christian existence. "In him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28). It is not a one way street, however, but a two way. But the street belongs to God. It is his street and he gives us the divine vehicle and directions to travel on it.
And so what is the best name for this unparalleled event?
Mass, though it has no grammatical connection to the above words, is the most common designation for Divine Liturgy. In it the baptized enter into Holy Communion with Christ which is the whole point.
Service is bound to be misunderstood.
Worship Service is an utter tautology.
The champion is still Divine Liturgy, or Divine Service (which are synonyms).
There is one church I know of that entitles their worship folder: The Mass of the Lutheran Rite.
The header at Christ Lutheran Church is: Divine Service.
This has become a trademark among liturgically-minded Lutherans in the last 40 years. But let us be sure to know what we mean by it. To liturgize, or serve God means "to altogether empty oneself of oneself, and give oneself altogether over to God." This is what Christ did for us men and for our salvation, and what we now do in union and conjunction with him who is our "liturgist in the holy realms, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man." (Hebrews 8:2). Christian liturgy begins at baptism, and continues unto the ages of ages. Amen.
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