Posted by: pendrops | January 11, 2009

liturgizing

stained-glass
Photo by jobarracuda at Flickr

Sheez, this is a lot of hard work, I thought after the third or fourth time I’d stood up and sat back down. I grasped the bulletin I’d been handed by a six- or seven-year-old boy a few moments before, reading ahead nervously so I would be sure not to miss another Thanks be to God in the liturgy. I tried to figure out an unfamiliar melody as I mumbled the words of the processional song.

You see, after a few months away from any kind of unified Sunday morning gathering, Jason and I visited a church, a church that lands on a branch of Protestantism neither of us have any experience with. We visited an Episcopal church.

As the service progressed, I found myself wanting to take time to ruminate on all the active-ness of the service and how worn out I felt with the kneeling and the standing and the liturgizing. But the Nicene Creed, in all its truth and beauty, broke through my ragged, self-indulgent introspection.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen…

Maybe it was those faith statements bouncing against the high ceiling and stained glass windows. Or maybe it was the chamber choir in the loft behind us singing, “O taste and see how gracious the Lord is…” Or maybe it was the breaking of the bread, literally broken so I could hear it and see the crumbs spray through the air at the altar as I knelt to receive an unleavened wafer dipped in crimson juice.

Or maybe it was something intangible in the room, dwelling among us, dwelling in us. Whatever it was, I decided that the “work” I had been doing throughout the service – the kneeling, the rising, the common prayers, the congregational readings – was good.

So much of my Sunday morning church-going experience has been about receiving. What can I get out of the music? Do I agree with how the pastor has interpreted the Scriptures? Did the prayers move me? To put it bluntly, my churching has been very Krista-centric. And not very God-centric.

Oh sure, I’ve said I’m going to meet with God, but I’ve only wanted to meet with Him on my terms. As long as His truth, His love, His presence was spoon-fed to me while I kicked back in a comfy pew and consumed.

But today was different. Today I gave something. I was awakened to the giving. By a common word, by an ordering, by a tradition. And in the offering I discovered a lightness, a gladness, a new hope born. An extravagant grace in uniformity. A peace in the practice of worship. A joy in the active involvement that worship requires.

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