Here are 4 general thoughts about liturgy I'd like to post for reflection. I would honestly appreciate thoughts anyone might have about them.
1. I read somewhere this week about the similiarity of contemporary services, no matter what the denomination, how there's a certain "sameness" to them all, whether Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, whatever.
2. So I started thinking that I feel like the same thing happens in most traditional black churches. I think it explains how most black people feel perfectly free to go from one church (say, Methodist) to another (say, Baptist, you get the picture) because there's an underlying liturgy there that carries from congregation to congregation.
3. I think the beauty of a somewhat fixed liturgy is that it promote a real spontaneity. It might be one that doesn't look outwardly like spontaneity, but it's a freedom, a vibrancy that one can almost feel when someone is not tied to the book, not because he's making up crap (either beforehand, or as he goes along) but because the liturgy is so much a part of the worshipper that he can breathe within it. It's kind of like seeing someone who is really comfortable with a particular set of clothes and how they look like they come alive in those clothes. On the other hand, there's nothing so inimical to real spontaneity than an ever-changing liturgy, one where the worshipper has to constantly be checking on where he should be, making him supra aware of himself just at the time he should be unaware of himself.
4. When I truly feel comfortable with a contemporary service, I find that there's something (music, melodies, "attitude," whatever) underlying that I'm either familiar with, or comfortable with, and that "something" carries me along within and through the changes in the liturgies.