In a lecture at the 1979 conference on Liturgy in Reformed Worship at Calvin College entitled, “Choir & Organ: Their Place In Reformed Liturgy,” Nicholas Wolterstorff stated the following:
Characteristically we Reformed people think of going to church as going to sermon. And we think of the sermon as marching orders. In what we do Monday through Saturday, we say, lies the proof and worth of Sunday. For us, the fundamental question to put to the liturgy is always: What did we get out of it?
But in biblical perspective there is clearly a second fundamental reason to assemble for the performance of the liturgy. It is right and proper—in the words of the old Latin Mass, dignum et justum—for us to acknowledge God’s majesty and goodness’s right and proper to sing praises to God for his works of creation and redemption, and for our status as new creatures in Jesus Christ. It’s right and proper to confess our sins. It’s right and proper to continue celebrating the supper of our Lord in memorial of him until he comes again. I know of course that it’s also right and proper to care for the poor of society, to work for peace, to build bridges, to create paintings. It must be said to the Reformed person—emphatically, because he’s so much inclined to forget it—that it is also inherently right and proper to perform the liturgy. This too is obedience. There’s profound truth in speaking of what takes place in our assemblies as a worship service. Worship, let’s not forget it, is part of our rightful service to God. Not only is liturgy for building us up unto obedience. Liturgy is for acknowledging God, in a tone of chastened celebration.
I said that one question to ask of the liturgy is: What did we get out of it? In light of what I’ve just said it’s clear there’s another, namely, How did we do? How did we do in our attempt to acknowledge God with praise and confession, with thanksgiving and intercession? Did we do it at all adequately?