To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.
~William Henry Channing

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wild Horses and Liturgy

A few weeks back I read this article over at Femina. If you are a woman or have a daughter (or a sister, mother, wife, etc.) you should give it a read. Here are a few snippets to whet your appetite.
We tell our girls that their feelings are like horses- beautiful, spirited horses. But they are the riders. We tell them that God gave them this horse when they were born, and they will ride it their whole life. God also set us on a path on the top of a mountain together and told us to follow it.
What a wonderful analogy, right? She goes on to explain what happens when emotions are out of control and ruling is like the horse trying to jump the fence and run down into a yucky place full of spiders to get lost in the dark.
When it comes to liturgy people tend to have very definite opinions. Typical arguments go along the lines of
"It's too ritualistic and meaningless."
Or "It's too intellectual and devoid of feelings. It stifles worship."
But honestly, the more I learn about liturgy and the more I practice it, the more meaningful worship becomes and my emotions are more connected.
Rich Lusk has this to say...
Through the liturgy, God molds us into the image of Christ, individually and corporately. “Liturgy” means “service” or “ministry.” The focus is not so much on our service to God (though this is by no means excluded – see Romans 12:1-2 and Acts 13:2) but on His service to us. God graciously takes the initiative and we respond in faithful obedience and praise. Just as the gospel is about what God has done for us, rather than what we can do for ourselves, or even what we can do with His help, so the liturgy is about God doing for us what we cannot do on our own. Understanding this enables us to see that the liturgy itself is a means of grace.
Beautiful isn't it? And you know what is even better? He does it for us as a the body. We aren't individually experiencing an experience or not depending on how we feel today about what song is being sung or what verse is being read.
Every act of worship is done together – we confess together, call upon God together, sing together, listen together, eat together. As we learn to worship together, the prayer of the Apostle Paul is answered: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
Following the analogy above, liturgy can be the reigns that guide and steer our worship onto the right path. It is what enables us to “walk in the light as He is in the light, and have fellowship with one another.”
We are human and we must be mindful that sin crouches at the door. Is liturgy some kind of magic charm that we use like garlic to ward off vampires? No, but I do agree with David Chilton that A return to Biblically based liturgy is not a cure-all; but it will prove to be a corrective to the shallow, frenetic, and misplaced “spirituality” that has been the legacy of centuries of liturgical poverty.
Liturgy is good. A right understanding of it changes our view and practice of worship.
A whole way of life – a “spirituality,” or a “culture” – flows out of the liturgical gathering.
“Lex orandi, lex credendi,” meaning, “As a man worships, so he believes.” ~Rich Lusk