Reformation Worship image

Reformation Worship

Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey's Reformation Worship: Liturgies from the Past for the Present is a remarkable collection. They have collated a huge range of resources—from Luther, Oecolampadius, Zwingli, Farel, Coverdale, Bucer, Calvin, Cranmer, Knox, and a number of others—which would make a great addition to any bookshelf, but they have also written three essays on worship to introduce the volume, drawing (as the subtitle suggests) from the past to help us worship in the present. They even have a website of resources.

Early on, Jonathan has an intriguing liturgical analysis of Exodus 19-24 and 2 Chronicles 5-7. It is striking how much of the Church’s order of worship is already there at the inauguration of the tabernacle, and later the temple:

Gathering (at Mt Sinai) (Ex 19:1-3a)
Calling (by God’s Word) (19:3b-9)
Cleansing (through sacrifice) (19:10-15)
Mediated access (through an appointed prophet-priest) (19:16-25)
Divine communication (Ten Commandments and Book of Covenant) (20:1-24:2)
Consecration (promise of obedience) (24:3)
Sacrifice (burnt offerings and peace offerings) (24:4-5)
Divine communication (Book of Covenant) (24:7)
Cleansing (blood of burnt offerings and peace offerings sprinkled) (24:6, 8)
Mediated access to God’s presence (24:9-10)
Fellowship meal (with God) (24:11)

Remarkably similar to the shape of Anglican or Presbyterian worship, isn’t it? Almost every element on that list could be transposed into a new covenant key and preserved in the worshipping life of the Church. This is even more true for the dedication of the temple story:

Gathering (at Mt Zion) (2 Chr 5:2-3)
Cleansing (through sacrifice) (5:4-6)
Mediated access (through priests) (5:7-10)
Praise (with singing and music) (5:11-13)
Glory of God fills the temple (5:14)
Divine communication (Word of God through Solomon) (6:1-11)
Prayer of intercession (by Solomon) (6:12-42)
Fire and glory (from heaven) (7:1-2)
Praise (bowing and thanking) (7:3)
Cleansing/consecration (through sacrifice) (7:4-7)
Meal (feast) (7:8-10)
Blessing and dismissal (7:9-10)

I’m seeing this kind of thing more and more as I read Scripture, no doubt partly through the lens of my whole Eucharismatic hobby horse: Revelation has a liturgical shape, 1 Corinthians provides us with a Christian liturgy, and so on. Now I have two more texts to add to my collection.

← Prev article
Next article →