THE MEANING OF THE LITURGY
When Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt, he was given a very explicit set of instructions on how they were to worship the God who freed them. These instructions were revealed by God on Mount Sinai and are found in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. From this beginning arose the complex liturgical Temple worship of ancient Israel.
In the New Testament, we find that Jesus’ disciples, who were all Jewish, at first continued to worship in the
Temple and afterwards gathered at a private home to celebrate the particularly Christian “breaking of bread,” the
1.Christian life at that time is described in the Book of Acts as continuing “steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers
2. Christians would “break bread” on the first day of the week, the day the Lord had risen from the dead.
3. Christians came to see their worship as the legitimate maturation of the worship given to Moses, supplanting the
cult of the Temple in Jerusalem. Inas much as Christ had established a better covenant between God and the fallen
world, He obtained for us “a more excellent liturgy”: “For if [Jesus] were on earth, He would not be a priest, since
1. Acts 2:46; 3:1.
2. It is unclear whether “the prayers” referred to here are the prayers said when celebrating the Eucharist or the Jewish prayer said when the Christians “went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1).
3. Acts 20:7. there are priests who offer gifts according to the law (i.e., the Jewish priests in Jerusalem); who serve the copy and