Well, today is the day of the week that I dedicate to doing my coursework, and as I am sitting here at West Virginia State attempting to write about the function of General Conference and Jurisdictional Conferences, I found myself perusing the internet. In doing so, I just stumbled across from this great little reflection from Chuck DeGroat about how liturgy shapes us and I wanted to share.
Liturgy may not be a word that you hear too often in our church, but it comes from the Greek leitorgeia, which means “the work of the people.” For the church, the word liturgy has come to mean the rituals and practices of worship, or those routines and disciplines that shape our worshiping life. We live our daily life by particular routines and little rituals that help us navigate through the world. Worship functions in the same way. We do particular practices and rituals that help us to locate ourselves in God’s story, that help us to navigate the world as Christians. Part of the problem is, we tend to lose sight of this purpose in worship, and we have neglected rituals and practices (like frequent celebration of Holy Communion) that have been the most significant throughout history in doing this. Chuck DeGroat writes,
Though I’m glad liturgy is “cool again,” renewed interest in traditional liturgical expressions seems to be accompanied by the notion that classic practices like the Eucharist or the Call to Worship are choices in a grand liturgical buffet. In other words, renewed liturgical expression can come with a lack of good thinking around liturgical integrity—the purpose of the liturgy as a whole.
The elements of liturgical worship are not choices in an ecclesial buffet line. Rather, as a whole, they tell a Story. And that Story counters the stories we are told in the many liturgies we practice every day. The elements of the liturgy are not merely cool sacred opportunities. Together, they form (and re-form) us, telling a different Story than we typically encounter….
The liturgies we practice speak of what we love. Our lives are aligned around the narrative(s) most compelling to us. Liturgy invites our lives to be re-shaped, our loves to be re-aligned, our desires to be re-directed. It is not a call to disconnect from all of the competing liturgies we’re engaged with. Perhaps it’s a call to reify them, to transform them, to infuse them with the possibility of real connection, real identity, real love.
How is our liturgy shaping us and placing us within the context of the greater Story?
What practices and rituals do we need to revisit and clarify as a worshiping community?