Saturday, November 28, 2015



I did some home work, to look up some unfamiliar words. The word for “liturgy” is from Greek leitourgia. It means doing worship according to certain customs and traditions.

Wikipedia says the word leitourgia sometime is translated as “service” in English. Oh, worship service--I come from a Chinese church, so I know “worship service”. But Chinese churches never translate “worship service” as “service”, because the English sounds confusing, are we to receive a service, or we are here to serve the God on Sundays?

Yes worship God is one of our needs, so maybe we can understand the worship service as being served this need, but it sounds so self-centered and weird.

What about understand worship service as serving God? But we typically don’t call worshipping God as serving Him. Now we are here to green the church, this is to serve Him, but we don’t call it worship, do we?

Now “liturgical calendar”, or liturgical year, it is cycle of seasons to observe certain feasts and days. I guess Roman Catholic churches have a lot more to celebrate, because they have so many saints to remember each year. Chinese churches celebrate Christmas and Easter, but most believers know nothing about Advent or Lent observation.

Nowadays more and more non-liturgical Christians think it is a good idea to observe Advent or Lent. I have a facebook friend who is a pastor, one day she saw Advent calendars were on sale, and she raised a very good question: where is the “Christian version” of the Advent calendar? She might have used a narrow sense of “Christian”, which doesn’t include Catholic and Orthodox. I do see Christian version of Advent calendar in Presbyterian churches this year, it is a meditation calendar through the season!

The fascinating part about the liturgical year is about colors. Worship God in different season would use different colors, to symbolize something important, something relates to our moods. You change color of parements on the podium and lectern, also change banners on the wall and on the Lord’s Table to match the season. Even pastors will change the color of their clergy stoles. I do notice these changes, but no one ever explained to me liturgical colors. I thought they were just randomly changed for prettiness.

Today we changed to purple. Purple is the color of royalty, it also relates to pain and suffering, may be in Christian culture. Anyway, by putting on purple, we want to show our repentance (to turn around and come before God), and to prepare our heart to welcome Jesus the King.

Since church has to do this every year, and somebody has to make sure the color is changed promptly and correctly, one may feel this is tedious and insignificant. But, I am from a non-liturgical church background, as I said, more and more non-liturgical Christians begin to realize tradition and colors is a good idea, to remind us something of important. Someone gave 10 reasons to observe the tradition; I can share a few here.

First, these traditions remind us that we are a people that have been set apart from the world. We are not just following civic holidays, we have holy days to observe, we have a Lord that keeps us well, and teaches us to live according what God intends us to be. Second, in contrast with secular holiday shopping, partying, family vacationing etc, liturgical calendar requires us to ponder of something more important, for example, God’s love and grace and our response.

Third, observe liturgy year helps us to shape our life according to Christian stories and beliefs, so that we don’t let values of this world to take away all our time and energy.

Fourth, the liturgical colors are meaningful and powerful expression, to symbolize our response to Christian stories, is it Christ became man, or his resurrection from death. People come to church need to be visually reminded, that we are Jesus’ disciples.

Fifth, Chinese has an old saying: one picture equals to a thousand words in expression of feelings. For people of another culture, knowing the meaning of pictures or colors is an important part of learning. For people who know the tradition, it brings texture to our worship.

Sixth, the liturgical traditions unite us with one holy church, because no matter what denomination or branch of Christian you are, Jesus came to the world, died and resurrected for us all. We are to worship one glorious king and be His people.

Okay, so much for my study report. Thank you for your interests.

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