A liturgical day

After much waiting and anticipation the day has finally arrived.  It took an incredible amount of work by a group of dedicated people.  It faced numerous unforeseen obstacles.  But we can finally be at peace knowing it’s here.  A major transition in our collective life.

I’m talking of course about the arrival of our Voices Together hymnals, which will be delivered to the church building today.

And, oh yeah, it’s inauguration day in the US, which is also a big deal.

At the intersection of these two occasions is the experience of liturgy.  Liturgy is a central practice for communities – whether it be congregations or nation states.  Liturgy reminds us who we are and who we aspire to be.  It grounds us in a wider narrative.  It invites us to be not just passive observers, but participants in the story. 

Liturgy is repetitive, and repetition is a key pedagogical tool.  It’s how we learn.  We repeat what others before us have repeated.  Liturgy also leaves room for innovation, refreshing old ideas with new language.  Or sometimes welcoming new ideas. 

There is a leader, and there are the people.  Each has their part.  But the etymology of the word liturgy holds the core meaning: “the work of the people.”  For liturgy to continue to shape and guide us, rather than simply serve as lofty language, it must be a true expression of the work of the people.   And the work continues.

If and when you tune into the inauguration ceremonies today, listen for the liturgy.  Listen critically, and listen hopefully.

Listen also for the liturgy we share together as a faith community.  Like this new piece written by Pastor Isaac Villegas which is Voices Together 1043, titled Prayer for National Occasions.  I don’t know if he intended the “Left” and “Right” to have a double meaning, but wouldn’t that be nice?

VT 1043 Prayer for National Occasions

Leader: Some trust in governments
               and some in borders,

All: but we trust in God,
               who invites all people to live in peace.

Left: For the earth belongs to God,
               and all creation is in God’s care:

Right: land and waters, plants and animals, sky and soil
               declare the hospitality of God.

Left: The world belongs to God,
               and all who live in it.

Right: We belong to one another as siblings,
               all of us children of God.

Leader: With gratitude for the home God has made for us on this planet, we pray:

Left: Send your Holy Spirit
               to strengthen our resolve
               to strive for communities
               where foreigners become neighbors
               and strangers become friends.

Right: Revive our desire for the reign of Christ,
               who releases prisoners
               and liberates the oppressed,
               who frees the world from greed
               and proclaims God’s peace.

All: Make justice roll down like a river
          and righteousness flow like an everlasting stream. Amen.