Grace and Peace from Our Lord Jesus Christ!
In this new year ahead I have a few more articles concerning our usual order of worship regarding the sacraments and the pronouncement of God’s blessing. However, before I move on to the sacraments I want to reflect on the influence of the Lord’s Prayer, Gloria Patri, and the Doxology. These three things are all very short parts of the worship service, but their significance far exceeds their length. In fact, one reason they are so powerful is that they are so short. For example, their length makes them easily memorized without trying to do so after exposure to them for a few weeks. Thus the Lord’s Prayer, for one, can become imprinted on the memory and imagination much more quickly than say the Apostles’ Creed.
Now we do not put the Lord’s Prayer to music like some churches do, but the Gloria Patri and the Doxology we have always sung. I have written before about the power of music because of the way that it aids in memorization but also in seeping into the imagination. When we add together the effect of their brevity and the effect of singing them, the Gloria Patri and the Doxology can quickly become a part of a new Christian’s worship vocabulary and grammar.
Then when we consider the content of these three, we find why everything said above is so very important.
First of all, the Gloria Patri and the Doxology each mention the three persons of the Trinity. It is no exaggeration to say that “Christianity” is not Christian without the Trinity. We live in a time and place where a general deism is very popular – the belief in a supreme god – and many who grew up in the church have this general belief system rather than a Christian one. So learning something simple with each person of the Trinity is crucial for the new believer and a vital reminder for those who may have grown up with a church influence.
Secondly, the Lord’s Prayer, Gloria Patri and Doxology, all point to what I would call the invisible or eschatological (speaking of last or ultimate things). This reinforces points I’ve been making in these articles as to the journey into heaven that we take with each service of worship so I will not belabor those points now.
Thirdly, the so-called Lord’s Prayer was what the Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples as a model for prayer. It was, properly speaking, to be the disciples’ prayer and as a model it only has one personal petition of supplication: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This model prayer then is in stark contrast to the common pattern of prayer prevalent today. That is, too often people only pray when they need something from God like healing and it is only at such times that God is relevant to their lives.
And with these observations I have only scratched the surface of how important the content of these three brief things really is. But given everything said heretofore, may it suffice to say that whenever a church uses these often that church is training its members to love differently, live differently, and pray differently.
[Update: 7/22/17 — I would note that in bulletins I usually put this as a translation of “Doxology”: “Words of Praise.” The Doxology, a title coming from the Greek, is words that glorify the Triune God. The Gloria Patri title comes from the Latin meaning roughly Glory to the Father from the opening line. As you sing the Gloria Patri, however, you will find that it glorifies the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.]