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Lesson 12 ~ Comparative Religion ~ Religious Ceremony, Sacraments, Liturgy and Rituals ~ Essay

By:  Rev. Trent Murman


Much of religion is based on ritual and symbol. What are some of your religion's most important rituals?  Baptism and Communion

Do they use liturgy? There is a common misconception that there are "liturgical" and "non-liturgical" churches. All churches, however, are "liturgical." The distinction actually exists in the manner of how that liturgy is expressed. Liturgy comes from the greek term leitourgia means the "work of the people." Or in an ecclesial sense, it means the "public worship" of God. The work of the people is the particular structure the assembled people of God use to worship Him. When we think about liturgy, we are addressing the principles by which we order our worship.

A primary consideration for the worship of God is that worship is participatory. We can easily fall into the mindset of an entertainment culture. We show up at an auditorium shaped room and so conclude that we are here to passively receive entertainment. This is wrong. Worship is a re-enactment of the story of Scripture and we are the actors, all of us. The audience is composed of one person, God. The whole community participates in worship. Every element of the worship service is corporate in nature. Even the reading of Scripture and the Sermon involve the people in actively hearing the Word and responding to it. Liturgy means we offer our worship together and everyone is involved. Passivity in worship leads to dead ritual, regardless of the form.

What are some of your religion's most important symbols? The basic symbols in the seal are the cross, Scripture, the dove, and flames. The dominant structural and theological element in the design is the cross -- the universal and most ecumenical symbol of the Christian church. The cross represents the incarnate love of God in Jesus Christ, and his passion and resurrection. Because of its association with Presbyterian history, the Celtic cross was chosen as a model for this contemporary rendering of the ancient symbol. 

Are some of these symbols ritual objects? The two most important rites in Reformed churches are the two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper. The most contentious theological issues in Protestantism have centered on these sacraments, which have divided not only Protestants from Catholics, but Lutherans from Reformed.  A sacrament is an action in which God's grace is especially present. 

What does your religion consecrate?  Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word " consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred ".  The Presbyterian church consecrates the Eucharist, bread and wine served as Holy Communion. 

What does it consider a sacrament? The bread and wine literally are Jesus. This is the doctrine of "real presence." This is considered the Presbyterian sacrament either in the church setting or visitation at home or hospital.   Go In Peace

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