I’m not a traditional kind of person. At all. I think this stems from my lack of interest in history or really, anything dealing with whatever happened before I was born. That probably sounds a little egocentric (and completely ignorant), but it just doesn’t mean a lot to me. Please, somebody tell me that I’m doomed to repeat it. I dare you.
That said, a recent encounter of mine has me doubting my “forward-thinking, novelty-driven” mindset. I’ve been developing a relationship with a congregation that employs liturgy in their services. Before this, the closest I’d gotten to any kind of ecclesiastical formalities like this was midnight mass on Christmas Eve, when I was so punch-drunk tired that I giggled at every little mistake I made. If you ask the pastor at the church I’ve been attending on Sundays, he’d tell you that this behavior hasn’t changed. Perhaps fatigue isn’t a good excuse for immaturity.
I have to admit, I’ve had my doubts about reading words off a piece of paper. The honest truth is that something like this could easily become perfunctory. Mouth, take over- brain and heart, take a nap. You deserve it. The church I came from had this attitude in regard to tradition as well. I was taught that it didn’t engage the inner man but gave the appearance of participation. But, I have to say, that as I’ve been reading the words aloud, I’ve been focusing on believing them. I speak as if the Almighty were standing right in front of me, listening to every word that proceeded from my mouth (If I did that more often, I probably wouldn’t be so flippant in my speech– I might use fewer four-letter words, too). So far, I feel engaged in all of it. But the experience is still a novelty…
But I keep worrying that it’s simply that- something new and entertaining, so I’ve been hoping to discover some sort of evidence that would support a liturgy-driven church and the impact it has on one’s faith. I found it in the testimony of a woman from this congregation. She said,
“There are always words, because God provided them.”
As a writer and a man who never shuts up, the thought of running out of words terrifies me. Any other bloggers know how awful it is when you actually have to drum something up to write about- our premises and stories should flow from our own living and really ought not to be forced. The only thing scarier than writer’s block is a silence in relation to my faith. Even if it means reading words off a page, I must to participate in an ongoing conversation with my God, community and theology. And I may have found a new avenue for this conversation in words written by men who died a long time ago.