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Worship Quote: N.T. Wright on Good Liturgy

[W]hat we wear, where we stand, how we move (vesture, posture, and gesture) all matter, not because we are ritualists but because this is God’s drama and we can easily get in the way.

When those leading worship stand to one side, this makes the point dramatically; when worship-leaders, including musicians, assemble directly in front of a congregation like a rock group at a concert, this can make exactly the wrong point.

There is, no doubt, a sense among many modern worship-leaders that this does not matter; but, precisely because worship is about human integration, it matters very much indeed. What you do with your body says something about what you are doing with the rest of you.

Of course kneeling down, raising your hands in worship, crossing yourself, taking up particular positions, can all become rituals and turn into magic. But to insist on sitting down to pray — the one posture the Bible never mentions in connection with prayer—because kneeling is “ritualistic” is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

To insist on a free-flowing succession of worship songs at the whim of one leader is not to strike a blow against ritualism, but to put that leader precisely in the place where the Reformers saw the medieval priest, coming between the worshipers and God.

Good liturgy preserves us from personality cults whether Catholic or Protestant. – N.T. Wright, “Freedom and Framework, Spirit and Truth: Preserving Biblical Worship”

 

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