Liturgy is participation in God’s life…
The Christian life is more than just believing certain truths or imitating Christ or obeying his mandates of love and service. For Christians, truth is not a philosophy; it is a person. Christians do not live in obedience to laws, they live in obedience to the person of Jesus Christ. Christians see Christ everywhere. They experience a connection with everyone, sensing Christ in one another. This is not an emotional bond, but a bond of charity. Christ himself gave wonderful examples: the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son’s father.
John’s gospel takes the bond of charity a giant leap further. In Christ’s last discourse, he tells his disciples that they who do his commands actually live in him and he in them. Obedience to Christ means to share his life, to be filled with his Spirit, to be joined to the life of the Triune God. Christians live similar lives to those of other good, philanthropic people, but their motivation is different. Christians want the world to be better, like the others. Christians experience the joy and satisfaction of “worship,” defined in the generic sense as giving themselves over to something larger than themselves and losing any excessive self-concern in the process. What makes Christians unique, though, is that they “worship” also in the liturgical sense: they give themselves over not just to goodness, but to the persons of the Triune God and become one with them.
So, to participate in the liturgy is to participate in God. It is more than just singing/saying the right things and performing the right body postures. Those are done precisely because they can lead us into participating in God’s life. They help to prepare us to receive God’s life into our lives.