Here we are at last - it's The last Sunday in Advent and it seems like an age since we were celebrating 'Christ the King'.
For those who struggle with the liturgical year, and even the word 'liturgy', here's a short introduction to it in the hope you might see that it is not the 'vain babbling of the heathen' as some might (perhaps sneeringly) assume it to be.
The word 'liturgy' might best be thought of as 'the work that the people do'.
You will, I hope, have noticed the bold emphasis on the word 'the' because first and foremost we must understand that it's not ALL the people who are doing this work - it is only some - and this is a most important (for me anyway) part in that to understand liturgy you need also to understand who those who perform it are and why they perform it.
Liturgy (leitourgia) is the work undertaken by a citizen of a nation as part of their duty to it. It is not 'the words bit' as one of my colleagues from another expression of Church glibly dismissed it as being (mind you, they assumed the music was the worship bit) - poor soul! The problem is that the daily work routine are written out for us and stuck in a book (or on websites) to help us do the right thing at the right time. When trying to explain it recently, I tried the following tack:
If we take the world of farming as the nation we are working for the we can see that there are things that need to be done on a daily basis - every day of the year - things that happen at particular times every year - as something seasonal - and things that happen as and when the need arises - occasional jobs.
The work we do as citizens of a heavenly Kingdom fall into exactly the same categories:
Daily - morning prayer, evening prayer, night prayer and the Eucharist (or Communion).
Seasonal - Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Trinity, Ordinary time, Christ the King.
Occasional - Baptism, Marriage, Funerals.
Each day we might also contain celebrations and commemorations. Those special days which have their parallel with family birthdays and other celebrations and acts of remembrance we keep in our own lives regardless of national allegiance or occupation. We call these, in the Kingdom of God known as 'Christian', feasts and festivals.
So here you have it - liturgy in a nutshell. Hopefully you can now see that it is merely the description of what needs to be done, with space for us to add the musical bits to flavour the whole as our own particular taste and fancy demands.