I grew up in a liturgical church. Every week I would sit in the shiny wooden pew, sing the same songs and recite the same prayers in unison with the rest of the congregation. To this day, I can recite creeds and sing kyries even though I left that church nearly 20 years ago. I always felt that the point of church was lost if I could recite those words at any given moment -- the meaning of them was lost, and it was one of the reasons I left that church.
I began a saving relaionship with Jesus Christ in 1994 and joined an "independent" church. No liturgy here! I no longer live in that town, and the church I attend now could be described as having contemporary worship with orthodox teaching. I love my church, but there is a drawback: as a 1000+ congregation with two buildings and five services, one tends to get lost in the crowd.
Yesterday I attended a Catholic mass with a friend, as I am staying with her while on vacation. I knew neither the prayers nor the order of service. On one hand I felt very out of place, very isolated.
But as I sat in that shiny wooden pew, I realized the unison is a reflection of the UNITY. I walked away with a sense of where I fit in the bigger picture: a landscape of waving golden wheat and a line of trees to buffer the wind and fluffy clouds floating in a blue sky is not unlike the growth of the Christian in fertile soil with friends to help block the wind and the saints who have gone before cheering us on. In that litugical service yesterday I realized I am part of something bigger, something that crosses borders and epochs, something that is united by Who we worship more than it is divided by how we worship.
And what about being able to recite a creed at the drop of a hat? Oh, what a blessing! No matter where I am, no matter how my mind is wandering where it shouldn't or my actions reflect the world more than the Word -- I have truth at the tip of my tongue. I could do the same thing with Scripture; it is only a matter of repetition, and then I would have that Truth, too, on the tip of my tongue.
When I retrun home in another week or so, I will return to my church. I will look around the room with new eyes: we are just a small part of a large family who, every minute of every day, somewhere someone -- many someones -- are worshiping the Lord of All. My church service might not look like yours, but our God is the same!