Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brief Musings about Liturgy

I'm a member of the American Baptist Church USA. We're all over the map theologically, as it were. Some of fundamentalist, some are quite liberal. Yet we are united on key doctrines such as the resurrection, the priesthood of all believers, etc.

So it may strike some as odd that I would be attending an African-American Episcopal church here in Pasadena. Well, it is kind of odd. Our priest is a British dude, we have a woman deacon (which is awesome), and we do the whole wine and bread thing seriously (using actual wine). At my old churches, we were crazy for going for the more pricey brand of grape drink. So its been an experience considering much of my church background has been in low church settings ala Calvary Chapel.

The worship is different, the communion setting is different, the fellowship is different. Everything is just different.

And its awesome.

I never got liturgy as a kid, so I do wonder what my life would have been like had I been around the old hymns and settings. Good Lord the smells. I now associate recently extinguished candles and their pungent smoke with liturgy. Wisps of white that ascend and mingle in the air, letting us know service is over and yet not over. Liturgy, for me, is a manner of reflection, a time to meander in my mind about the previous day and the future week.

Liturgy, in essence, is rumination. Considering the effects of the the resurrection, of living a life in the tension between the Kingdom of God and the effects of Ferguson. Since the church is predominantly African-American, I'm privy to the conversations and laments of mothers and brothers and fathers and sisters who know and speak on them weekly.

Deacon Jamie spoke. Rev. Goldingay spoke. All of us speak on race, but with an eye towards reconciliation. Towards forgiveness. We sing each service old African hymns, modern classics and end it usually with this famous diddy:

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine."

"Go into the world, just go, to love and serve the Lord. Hallelujah, hallelujah."  says Deacon Jamie.

And what a broken, bitter, painful, wonderful world it is.


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