Season after Pentecost, 2023
There is a sea change in how we are defining the word liturgy, and our understanding of its Greek roots.
The recently-used definition "the work of the people" is going the way of the dodo in favor of what many say is the original sense of that word: "work for the people".
Here is the Rev. Prof. Maggi Dawn, of the Yale Divinity School:
What did Litourgeia really mean? – a litourgeia, in Greek usage, typically referred to a piece of work that was patronage for the purposes of public good. So, for instance, if a wealthy person or group of people wanted to sponsor something for the town, they might initiate the building of a town hall – the work was initiated by some people, but was for the benefit of all the people – and really, that meant all. It meant public – so that its benefits were available to everyone.
If we use “liturgy – the work of the people” merely as a mandate to shift the balance of power inside the four walls of the Church, we have missed the point entirely. The really radical stuff begins when we understand that liturgy – a work of worship – is supposed to have public benefits.
Liturgy – it’s *not* the work of the people. maggidawn.net. 21 September 2014
It's a new era. Congregational participation isn't the golden standard any more. The implications of this word are so much bigger than that. It's not about "power" among the churched. It's about doing work that is for the whole world.
No one is denying that it is work, though.
Pairs well with: liturgy - aim of (words of the Rev. Scott Gunn, quoted on this blog 15 September 2014)
"The aim of liturgy is not community among worshipers. Rather, our liturgy is for God and the whole world. Liturgy does not mean “work of the people” but rather “work for the public good.” In other words, it’s not about you."
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