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Work of the People

The word "liturgy" comes from a Greek word that means "work of the people." It refers to fixed forms of worship that enable congregational participation. The church worshiped liturgically from the beginning. She inherited liturgical forms from synagogue and temple and developed these forms in the light of the revelation of God in Christ.

Those unfamiliar with liturgical worship often object that it is repetitive and, thus, devoid of the spontaneity they desire.

However, repetition is precisely the point of liturgy. C. S. Lewis wrote:

"Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best--if you like, it "works" best--when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God."

- From Letters to Malcolm. Chiefly on Prayer

As we learn the words and actions of the liturgy and come to understand what they mean, we develop the ability to pray the liturgy from the heart.

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