“Liturgy without sacrament just doesn’t work”

Cruising Down the Coast of the High Barbaree: Liturgy: The Treasure of Lutheranism

The liturgy first of all has the Real Presence at its heart. That’s why Protestants desperate for the steadiness and objective piety of Christian liturgy are destined to either not remain Protestants or see their liturgical renewal movements wilt quicker than a morning glory. Protestants try to co-opt the liturgy without restoring the Sacrament at its heart. It just doesn’t work, and when it doesn’t, they often go to Rome. But that’s because they don’t the other crucial aspect of the liturgy, either.

If the liturgy’s heart is the Real Presence, its lifeblood is the proclamation of the Gospel. So when you have an edifice of dogma that militates against the Gospel of the God who justifies sinners freely for the sake of Christ through faith alone, it’s going to damage the understanding of the liturgy as setting in which God comes to his people and forgives their sins. People are going to tend to understand it as law-keeping, a sacrificial act, cultural expression, the calculated creation of an “otherworldly” atmosphere, or something along those lines. And thus, the occasionally necessary acts of liturgical reform and adaptation will generally have something other than the Gospel at their heart, and do as much to damage the liturgical tradition as to help it.

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