If you know me, though, you also know I don’t just love liturgy for liturgy’s sake. This is where I could be a Quaker liturgist. When the Quakers threw off liturgies hundreds of years ago, it was because liturgies felt empty and divorced from life. You might say they were a substitute or a placeholder for living in the way of Jesus and early Quakers would really just prefer to live in the way of Jesus. You know, get on with James’ true religion of looking after orphans and widows and skip the getting together to sing about the things we don’t do. Makes sense. And so those remnants of Quakerism in me don’t sit well with liturgy for liturgy’s sake.
I want a liturgy that is a rehearsal of life in the way of Jesus. Liturgy that pre-forms - so that we can perform - our lives of love and justice in God’s in-breaking kingdom. I want a liturgy that literally takes trash from the streets of the neighborhood and - through community and in concert with the reading of Gospels - turns that trash into art. I want liturgy that rehearses unbinding slaves so that our daily lives are filled with unearthing new freedom in ourselves, our neighbors, and the world at large where addiction makes proverbial slaves and economic situations make 36 million literal slaves. I want liturgy that lights candles in the growing dark of December not just because we always have and it has a warm Christmas-y feeling to it but because we are rehearsing that light comes in darkness and even impossible hopes are the very ones we and the world are pregnant with.
So I love liturgy. The kind of liturgy where you almost don’t need a benediction (good-word) because “good words” have already filled the room and you are chomping at the bit to get out that door and turn benediction to benepraxis (good words to good work).
I love liturgy because I love anchoring a community in a rehearsal of lives of God’s love and justice.
And...our community has not yet coalesced. So, we don’t have a liturgy here in Everett.
Yesterday Luke and I joined in a pastors group that was discussing Lent. I love Lent. I heart it. Maybe that’s a really weird thing to love and maybe some of my counselor friends are diagnosing me as they read this. But I love Lent. And I want so badly to be planning a Lenten liturgy. So, I was sad as my colleagues shared all the great things they are dreaming up for their community worship. I got a bit emo and envious. Maybe those are things I should repent of at Lent.
I’ve carried that emo envy with me for about 27 hours and fifteen minutes now...not that I’m counting. But as I sit here in my new neighborhood, setting up meetings with people I want to learn from and listen to and volunteering to help with various good works in my neighborhood I realize I may or may not get to plan liturgies for Lent but I do get to live lent. I may or may not get to dream up rehearsals of a good life in my neighborhood toward God’s kingdom of love and justice. But I get to live it. I may or may not get to write a benediction for folks to go and live in the way of Jesus - but I do get to write a benepraxis every day.
For now, I’m skipping rehearsal. But, as my early Quaker F/friends might remind me, that doesn’t mean I’m skipping the performance.