Monday, October 18, 2010

Why I Love Liturgy

A lot of people are unfamiliar with, or have negative views of liturgy.  Liturgy is, according to, "a form of public worship; ritual."  I think that second part is what gets a lot of people.  Ritual... we don't always like ritual with our spirituality.  Sometimes it feels stiff, forced, unauthentic.  But what I'm finding the more I employ liturgy in my personal time with God, and in our corporate time with God at Redemption Hill, is that it is drawing me deeper in my relationship and knowledge of God.  Let me explain.

Often I find that my faith is weak.  Something is lacking, something is disconnected.  I can't always put my finger on it, but often it is the crack in the foundation that leads to later problems.  Slowly I drift, slowly I fall away.  But liturgy helps keep my grounded.  Confessing publicly and corporately every Sunday forces me to consider my faults.  It forces me to accept Christ's pardon, and to view Him as my Savior and Redeemer.  Praying prayers that have been prayed for centuries reminds me of the tradition, and value, of our faith.  This isn't a new trend; it is solid in years of followers.  I am just one of millions who have traveled this path.  I am not alone.  And that is comforting, and sobering.  I realize how God is the main character in this story of life, and I am simply a random extra.  Not that my life doesn't matter, and I should just waste it.  But liturgy reminds me of my fragile state.

I love this quote by Lauren F. Winner in her book Girl Meets God (which I highly recommend):
         "Sometimes, often, prayer feels that way to me, impersonal and unfeeling and not something I've chosen to do.  I wish it felt inspired and on fire and like a real love-conversation all the time, or even just more of the time.  But what I am learning the more I sit with liturgy is that what I feel happening bears little relation to what is actually happening.  It is a great gift when God gives me a stirring, a feeling, a something-at-all in prayer.  But work is being done whether I feel it or not.  Sediment is being laid.  Words of praise to God are becoming the most basic words in my head.  They are becoming the fall back words, drowning out advertising jingles and professors' lectures and sometimes even my own interior monologue.
        Maybe St. Paul was talking about liturgy when he encouraged us to pray without ceasing."

So check out liturgy.  You just might find you like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Loving God More

"The critical question for our generation- and for every generation- is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"- John Piper in God is the Gospel

If you're like me, you read that and thought, uh oh... This is one of those questions that makes my skin crawl because I know the right answer, but then I know what my answer is, too much of the time.

We've been talking in church about Acts, and this past Sunday our pastor hit on some good points.  He was asking us why we aren't seeing the effects in our generation that the early church saw, when we have more resources and more blessings then they had in a lifetime.  He mentioned teamwork as being a key difference, and I agree.

But I also think there's more to it.  I think the problem is much more personal to all Christians.  The problem is that we don't love God more than anything else in this world.  We don't love God so much that He is our life, not just a part of our life.  I know this is true for me.  I love my stuff, the good things in life, more than God on a regular basis.

The solution isn't to try harder.  It isn't to resolve to do better, because let's just be honest, it won't happen.  We can't do it.  We have to surrender to God.  We have to let God in, and let Him do the work. We do that by surrounding ourselves with Him.  Turning off the TV and picking up our Bibles.  Spending time with Him every day, every hour, every minute.  Having an active community of believers that we do life with.  Serving others, and actively trying to obliterate poverty.  I believe that if we do, if we start to pursue God above anything else, He will satisfy us, more than we've ever imagined.

God doesn't care about our stuff.  He doesn't care about our careers, or our success.  He cares about His glory.  He cares about His kingdom.  That's what we need to care about, more than anything else.

I want to desire God above all else.  I want Heaven to be simply HIM, not the pleasures of life.  God, I do believe, help my unbelief.