Monday, September 26, 2005

Unless God Shows Up...

I had this realization in church this weekend. We were visiting a friends church, it is what would call liturgically sparse (they accidentally had a sanctus in there which tickled my soul). Not that that is bad mind you, most mainline evangelical churches are the same way. So there I was thinking about the structure and all the barriers I was having to overcome to encounter God - when I have this insight.

It doesn't matter how rich or poor your liturgy, if God doesn't show up it is all really just a waste of time.

Yeah, brutal I know. But there is truth in there. I have been studying liturgy intently for a number of years now and I am always amazed at the potential for encounter that is soaked into liturgical structures. That is what it is all about. When God shows up even the liturgy itself is transformed.

I've also experienced a broad variety of liturgical settings. About the only kind I haven't experienced is a quietist liturgy and by definition it too is a waste of time without God showing up - in fact I think they are the most honest about this fact. IN all those settings I've seen God show up and I've seen people squander all the point of encounter that their liturgy was made for. The good, the bad and the downright ugly. It all comes down to us and God, and if you take God out of the equation then you are better off staying home and reading your email.

I did enjoy myself at church this weekend. I did long for more liturgical richness, but heck I'm just spoiled. My friend who pastors this confessed that talk about liturgy leaves him cold - lack of liturgical consideration does the same for me. But one thing is for sure I'm glad shows up even in sparse liturgy.

[edit - just to clarify what I am saying here, koinonia is one of those encounter points that is squandered by some liturgicist. When community happens - God is always in the midst of it. It is where Jesus loves to be, "whenever two or three...".]


f.Jonatan said...

Very true - God can show up even in a sparse liturgy, since liturgy is not magic that invokes God.
But sparse is one thing, bad is another. Perhaps good liturgy is really more like removing obstacles and bad liturgy is like raising walls against God?

One of Freedom said...

Exactly. I know in the conservative evangelical tradition (where I sit) there is a fear of that word liturgy and as a result we don't consider what is good and bad about our liturgy. I wonder if through grace we've simply stumbled upon some things that aren't barriers.