Liturgy and Mission

The Address delivered at the Regional Conference of the Society at the Kirk of the Greyfriars, October, 1967, by the Rev Canon Roland C Walls, BD, MA, Lecturer in Christian Dogmatics, New College, University of Edinburgh

The author is a pupil and disciple of Fr Gabriel Hebert S.S.M. who wrote ‘Liturgy and Society’. The author notes three problems which emerged in the last thirty years. 1) The danger of the divorce between the reformer of worship and the missionary and evangelist. 2) An increasing number looking for a ‘‘relevant liturgy’’(P17). 3)The emergence of a pattern of liturgical practice alongside of, and even outside of, the inherited congregational-parish pattern. We must return to first principles and he looks to the 14th century theology of Nicholas Cabasilas and his ‘Commentary on the Divine Liturgy’ for guidance. He finds 1) the liturgy is primarily an objective presentation to us of Christ to whom we need to return. 2) The liturgy is addressed primarily to people of faith aware they are living ‘between the times’-the time for the conversion of nations. The church needs to receive again the mission of the Christ before faithfully reaching out to the world in mission. Some fear liturgy is a substitute for mission. Small groups like the author’s community in Roslin help break down barriers between liturgy and mission. Perhaps a map could be used to show a congregation how they leave worship and spill into a broader world where they serve Christ. Churches would benefit from addressing the link between liturgy and mission perhaps by taking time to learn and reflect on what has emerged from the liturgy. The Livingston experiment where the liturgy takes place between two reflective and social gatherings is given as an example. Another contribution is the setting up of lay panels whose reflections feed back into the intercessions and praise of the whole congregation. However nothing takes the place of steady proclaiming of the meaning and forms of the rites we inherit.

Volume 38 1968, p17
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