Liturgy, Order, and Chaos

When considering liturgy, order is good. To be sure, are many excellent biblical arguments that advocate an orderly worship service. Walter Brueggemann opens our eyes to yet one more reason why order is good in worship.

“In such an arena of disorder [in which Israel/we live], which may indeed be large and deep and ominous, it is not surprising that one should look to Yahweh, the Creator of heaven and earth, to counter the chaos with a powerful ordering and continual reordering of creation. More specifically, it is plausible that the ordering activity of Yahweh, in the face of such a threat, should be activated in public worship, where life may be experienced in order, symmetry, coherence, and propriety.”

He emphasizes: “The enactment of such worship serves as a powerful counter-act to the threat of disorder. Thus much of the ‘command of order’ is given as an instrument to the priests, so that the priests can wisely and rightly order worship space, time, and activity, whereby worship becomes an environment for a God-given order available nowhere else. We may imagine that the depth, intensity, and specificity of order authorized in the text are commensurate to experienced disorder, even to a degree that we might regard as punctilious. It is crucial that the authorized enactment of order should fully match – or perhaps overmatch – the concrete threat of disorder.”

In other words, as a minister stands and calls the people of God to worship, he is reminding them that though the earth be moved, God is the ordered ruler yet. Or, still in other words, the Christian lives a whirlwind week, full of chaos, disorder, unexpected disturbances, and little rest. On Sunday, however, in the liturgy that same disoriented Christian is reordered, reoriented, and reminded that God calms the whirlwind and the chaos. Why would we want worship that reflects our busy & chaotic weekday lives?

Quotes taken from Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 191.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

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