Young parent: (to preschooler) What do we say when someone gives us a
Preschooler: Thank you! I love it!
(Imagine how often this needs to be repeated before Preschooler knows this without thinking.)
Worship Leader: The Lord be with you.
The People: And also with you.
Some faith traditions have elaborate liturgies and others seem to be non-liturgical, although even the Quakers have a liturgy. (Organized silence.)
Brian McLaren’s morning talk last Monday touched on the issue of liturgy that doesn’t work. If I am a mean person before worship and I am still a mean person after worship – after being guided by a particular liturgy with my faith community – then the liturgy is not working.
Example (From the PCUSA Liturgical Resource written in 2011 to be used after the passage of Amendment 10-A)
Merciful God, through your Spirit of grace and power, you have called us together as the body of Christ.
Yet we have fallen short of demonstrating our visible oneness in Christ. We have damaged your church, created factions, and caused harm by stereotyping and demeaning one another.
Forgive us, Lord.
In this time of change within the church,
draw us closer to you and to one another.
Help us to look beyond our differences
to see our common calling in and through you
to proclaim the gospel in word and deed
to a world in desperate need.
We pray in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
This is a beautiful prayer that requires attention and intentional reflection. If we pray this prayer and then – during coffee hour – we stereotype someone without blinking or we demean the nursery worker without feeling a twinge of discomfort, the liturgy hasn’t worked for us.
It’s not that the liturgy isn’t lovely; it’s that it didn’t work. We couldn’t connect with it. We went through the motions without engaging. We didn’t get it.
Good liturgy sticks with us throughout our daily routines, by the grace of God. I might say something catty or mean, but then I feel kind of sick inside, because didn’t I just ask God to help me with that just the other day? That sick feeling is God helping me stop it.
Is the liturgy by which we live and worship transforming us? Are we paying attention to the words we speak on Sunday mornings/Tuesday evenings/Thursday afternoon? We need to be more mindful if we are going to do what Yena advised us to do this afternoon. (Here’s the link.)
Photo of a lovely liturgical dancer at the Opening Worship of the General Assembly of the PCUSA. Liturgical dancers usually don’t do much for my transformation, but it was an especially apt feature for that worship gathering.