Evangelicals and Liturgy

is the title of this post over at the Lead pointing to an article in Christianity Today.

Honestly, we’ve been hearing so much about the renewed interest in traditional liturgy from the younger demographic and seekers alike in recent years that I have to wonder why people still think this is news. How long until people stop being surprised by this and realize that it’s what’s out there on the ground?

A lot of Christians want traditional liturgy.

It ties in with a desire for traditional spirituality as well.

We want to base our lives in something that has spoken to the human condition over centuries. I want current events and ephemera in my Prayers of the People—not in my eucharistic liturgies.

We want something that is not easily exhaustible; that has multiple layers and depths of meanings—not a single, obvious, didactic point.

I want to be able to pour over and live into my liturgies for years and die knowing that there are a host of meanings that I missed because I never got around to pondering them.

What will our next prayer book offer?

2 thoughts on “Evangelicals and Liturgy

  1. John-Julian, OJN


    You know, of course, that I am entirely at (or on) your side in this…and I have three concerns:

    1) I am 75 years old – 51 years a priest this August – the last of the generation who even remembers the antique liturgical glory of half a century ago. I know that some of it was inexcusably precious or fussy and needed cleaning up, but where are the people now who have literally LIVED that ancient liturgy and not just “studied” it objectively? And what happens when my generation has passed away? Who will even know what to do? I already see and hear about well-intentioned people (who do not have the hands-on experience) introducing truly shallow and stupid liturgical elements because they don’t know any better, are not familiar with The Tradition, and haVe no one to guide them.

    2) My real concern is that liturgical orgasm is (and will always be) more attractive to most than liturgical oblation. My only hope is that the orgasmic simply does not have any staying power, and the oblation does! (Note: a considerable number of folk affiliated with the contemplative way are recovering Charismatics!) But this really needs some very serious spiritual and mystical insight, support, and training.

    3) Oh, how I dread the whole “wee bookie” collection of “alternative liturgies” that has been gathering outside of the BCP and the Hymnal. All of them simply divert attention from the Center. I have a nightmare that all of this will ultimately be tucked into another “new” BCP in another 20 or 30 years. I am so glad I will be dead by then!

    And then it will all be up to you…..

  2. Vicki McGrath

    Dear Derek,

    I’ve responded to this issue before. But as for savoring the liturgies, I just want to pass on the great experience I am having with my adult ed. class. We are (in this Easter season)engaing in mystagogical catechesis. We’re doing a comparative study of all the six Eucharistic prayers in the BCP (and we’ll also do the EOW prayers as well). It’s turned out to be a great class, and last week we focussed on the Proper Prefaces, looking at all of the different themes of salvation. Everyone has said that their attention in worship has been deepened and enriched. So often we don’t take time to look at what we already have (a little like Dorothy who said, on returning from Oz, that if you can’t find what you’re looking for in your own back yard it probably was never there in the first place, or words to that effect).

    I suppose my reaction to John-Julian’s comment is that (as is most things) we need balance – and while balance isn’t rigid, it does ned to have an awareness of where the banks of the river are, so that we swim within them. Sometimes we just get caught up in wanting to be different – for all sorts of good reasons – without looking at what we are giving up when we walk away from whatever it is we are leaving behind, until it is is very difficult to recover the good that we’ve walked away from. Sigh! Whatever happened to all THREE legs of Hooker’s stool?

    Thanks for continuing to put this stuff out for us Derek.

    Vicki McGrath+

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