Liturgy comes from the Greek word leitourgia, meaning “public worship.”
When we hear the phrase public worship, many of us think of large meetings, like Sunday morning services, and while public worship can mean that, it doesn’t have to take place in a big group.
After all, public shares the same root word as pub, and it really just refers to a gathering of people to share life, a get-together that’s always open to strangers joining in. Jesus promised that wherever two or three gather in his name, he’ll be there with us. Jesus will be with us at the “pub” whether there’s beer or not!
Liturgy invites us to see the reality of the universe through a new lens. It helps us to see ourselves as part of a holy counterculture, a people being “set apart” from the world around us (and the world inside us) to bear witness that another world is possible.
We’re invited to become a peculiar people, living a different story and orienting our lives around a different set of values. In an individualistic culture, liturgy helps us live a communal life.
In an everchanging world, liturgy roots us in the eternal – a God who is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow.
Now, to be honest, our liturgy of the land can’t work for us if we’re not doing things to live like Jesus outside of the fixed prayer hours. Silence, work, body care, sabbath, fasting, community service and contemplation are the homework assignments that prepare us for the experience of praying together.
Otherwise, it’s just like going on a jog every day but only eating junk food and staring at a television the rest of the time. If we don’t spend time listening for God during the day, liturgy can feel like we are being invited to laugh at a joke we haven’t even heard yet. Be a participant, not a spectator. And see what God does.
(from Common Prayer – a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals)