Faith Self-Management

Liturgy is just for Sundays…right?

Riddle!

So you’re asleep when all of a sudden at five-thirty in the morning your parents knock on the door and say they are here for breakfast. In your cupboard, you have bread and jam, which are ready instantaneously, and in the fridge, you have a dozen eggs that need to be scrambled. What do you open first?

This riddle is surprisingly telling of something quintessential about us: our liturgy. Some of you who haven’t heard it will probably say, “the eggs because they need to cook.” Some will say “the fridge because the eggs are in the fridge,” and yet others will say, “The front door because your parents are outside!” and all answers are wrong. 

Liturgy-Speak

We’ve all been a part of liturgy before. It may even sound like a part of some antiquated ritual where there’s a man who stands in front of the congregation adorned in robes chanting a verse in a monotone voice. Maybe it just sounds like something the legalistic churches do, but not really what you do in your church where you’ve left those antiquated ways behind and use a more modern-day approach that really gains the attention of those seeking to know Christ. The fact of the matter is that everyone actually participates in liturgy when they go to church. Every week, there is an order of service that exemplifies what is most important to the congregation gathered there. Usually, it flows something like this:

Welcome

Songs

Sermon

More songs

Benediction

Some Churches have a confession time, and some churches have a time for prayer, baptism, baby dedication, etc. But EVERY church has a liturgy. Not only every church, but every PERSON who participates in church also participates in liturgy. In fact, I would argue that the most formative aspect of our lives that God utilizes us to mold us is a personal liturgy. 

Still, wondering about that joke? It’s a simple answer. The first thing you open is your eyes. Simple right? It stares you right in the face the whole time, but yet we miss it constantly. In a similar way, we miss the importance of that word “liturgy”

So… what is a liturgy?

Well, in the context of worship, it’s an ordering of the service that points to God as the center, or in the context of some churches… the seeker as the center. The order of the service points to what is most important. If the songs chosen revolve around the singer, and the sermon is about “living your best life now,” that’s the mold to which that congregation will be formed. We are not simply “Brains on a Stick” to quote James K.A. Smith. The church’s liturgy is the bedrock of its virtue, and “no amount of good theology can cancel-out a poor liturgy”. 

Augustine wrote a phrase many years ago that so adequately describes the human race: 

“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” 

This loaded phrase carries many things to unpack, but it really flushes out something deep inside of us. Our hearts long for and desire God. 

A Book Worth Reading

In his book, You Are What You Love, Smith discusses the idea that we are longing beings. We are designed to LOVE God completely with our whole lives. Well, what does this look like? How does liturgy come into play? Think of your morning routine. The alarm goes off… then what? Do you hit snooze? How many times? Think about what you are doing when you hit snooze. You could be simply enjoying the wonderful morning God has already given you, and relishing the quiet time before the day starts, or alternatively you could be trying to squeeze every ounce of sleep time in because you don’t want to start the day. You don’t want to get up and work. If you think that’s not the case, I have to ask: How many times do you hit the alarm when you have to get up to catch a flight to your favorite vacation destination? The things that we do are also doing something to us. When you hit that snooze button, are you telling yourself it’s ok to be lazy? Are you promoting a self-centered idea that the “good life” is being able to sleep as long as you want? When you get up early and open your Bible while before you begin your day, what are you telling yourself is most important to you? 

Our Restless Search for God

As longing beings, we will not rest until we have God, and finding God in these self-centered rituals does not happen. But when we give ourselves to daily liturgies (sometimes known as disciplines), we gain an incredible relationship to God that is extremely satisfying. Think about your daily routines. Not just in the morning, but even when you get home from work. Do you greet your family, then rush to the bedroom to watch SportsCenter or the news sequestered from all relationships? Or do you greet your family, and then debrief with your wife about the day? There’s no specific liturgy every man has to follow, but there are some pretty clear guidelines in scriptures. 

Ordering Your Life

I would encourage you to break down every routine and see what exactly you’re telling yourself. Open your eyes, (so to speak) and start ordering your life the way Christ has designed it to be ordered, and you’ll discover that liturgy isn’t something we just do on Sunday morning. 

Recommended reading:
You Are What You Love

James K.A. Smith

Warrior On!

Aaron Fisher

Aaron is the Worship Leader for Exodus Church. When he’s not doing that, he’s helping people as a personal banker at Wells Fargo. He loves loud music, quality coffee and playing hockey on Sunday afternoons. He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, and their greyhound.

 

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