The word “liturgy” is packed with power. For some, it evokes the grandeur and mystery of the church’s rich tradition. For others it evokes a rigid and confusing form of obsolete practice. Dan Benedict provides us with a deeper and more satisfying way to understand liturgy and to discuss issues related to worship. In his definition, readers come to see liturgy as God’s means of uniting with the heart, mind and work of Christ.
Liturgy, Benedict says, carries us into the presence of the holy in the same way that those friends in the gospel story carried their paralyzed friend into the presence of Christ. When our spiritual life is dry, and we have difficulty experiencing that presence, liturgy holds that meaning for us until we are ready to return. Liturgy connects us with the communion of the saints and allows us to worship with other believers across time and place. Over time, given faithful participation, the liturgy works to shape our perceptions and create more space for God’s grace to find expression.
This volume, with original prayers and reflection questions, is an excellent text for a new members’ or confirmation class studying worship, or for a congregation’s worship committee to read as a preparation for its work. Topics include corporate liturgical practices like baptism, communion, and the Christian year, as well as personal practices of daily prayer and scriptural reading.
In a clear and non-technical style, Daniel Benedict provides a manual for understanding more deeply the essentials aspects of Christian worship. The discussion is designed for individual reading and for group study. A careful use of this book will enhance both the devotional life of individuals and the spiritual growth and refreshment of entire congregations.
—Laurence Hull Stookey, PhD
Wesley Theological Seminary
This wonderful book meets a widely felt need. It gives inspiration and practical help to readers who want congregational worship to change and shape their lives. I enthusiastically commend it to all who hope there is more to worship than they have yet discovered.
Former (1972–1993) Director of Worship Resource Development
General Board of Discipleship
The United Methodist Church