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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

"It is liturgy or it is nothing."

by Larry Beane

In this day and age when well-intentioned Lutherans see the main focus of the Christian life, including the Divine Service, to be personal evangelism and/or catechesis (both good, noble, and necessary things, but neither are the most important thing that a creature of God has been created to do), we often lose track of just what the Christian faith is, the primary reason we exist: to worship God.

The following refreshing reminder of the real reason for worship and for the liturgy comes from the pen of the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in memory of his blessed professor, Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn:
"Piepkorn was, then, a theologian of the Church. And the Church, he insisted, is the community at worship. Of course the Church does many things, but worship is the source and the summit of its life. We do not worship in order to assist, to facilitate, to serve any other end, no matter how honorable or urgent that end may be. We worship God because God is to be worshiped. Worship is as close as we come here on earth to discovering an end in itself, for it is our end eternally. Piepkorn repeatedly invoked the words of the Athanasian Creed (which he would remind us is properly titled the 'Quicunque Vult'): 'The Catholic Faith is this that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity.' All of our believing and all of our obeying, including all of our theology, is brought to the altar. It is liturgy or it is nothing."
("Afterward: Richard John Neuhaus On the Occasion of the First Awarding of the Arthur Carl Piepkorn Prize, 10 October 1984," The Church: Selected Writings of Arthur Carl Piepkorn, 338-339).