Paraclete Press provided me with a complimentary copy of this wonderful little book. It offers a nice defense, written in simple language, of the historic Christian liturgy. Mark Galli is an Anglican but focuses on the similarities between the historic liturgies in the Western church. He shows how the liturgy brings us into the Biblical stories and makes us contemporaries of Biblical events. He tells us how the liturgical calendar can help us order our lives and draw us into community with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It's the perfect antidote to the Jesus and me attitude of many American Christians. The liturgy shows us how to properly approach a Holy and Loving God. The liturgy keeps us from idolatry. Without the liturgy we are easily drawn into idolatry. We determine what is true and our own standing before God based upon our feelings and ideas. Apart from the historic liturgy we can easily get sucked into thinking that whatever makes us feel spiritual must be the best way to worship God. Our feelings become our god. The liturgy shows us what is important and what is objectively true and show us that God does not fit inside of our brains or heart. The Trinity is a great mystery and true Christian worship can only be worship of the Trinity and centered on the Trinity. Modern worship tends to be focused on the worshiper. Christian worship must be focused on Christ and His work. The historic liturgy is all about the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
This book could be used for a variety of situations. A liturgical church could use it to educate their members as to why the historic liturgy is important. A non-liturgical church could use the book to try to transition itself into a liturgical church. Church bodies with a liturgical history that are departing from historical liturgy should seriously consider this book. There are plenty of seeker-sensitive non-denominational churches out there and they can probably do contemporary worship a lot better than you can. Pastor Baby-boomer man: I know you think you're hot stuff up there with your guitar and quite the rebel. I know you think you know how to communicate to the youth. But you're just preparing the kids to go to the mega-church down the block. Why would the kids want to see the Sha Na Nas when U2 is down the street? Meanwhile, there are lots of younger people who are really interested in worship that is more mysterious. If you want the kids to come, you might want to consider buying some incense and doing some processionals instead of the PowerPoint and the guitar. Kids are tired of watching their teachers at school fumble with the PowerPoint, they don't need to see you trying to muck with it. The historic liturgy is even toddler-friendly. Little kids that can't read will quickly memorize the liturgy.