My mother-in-law takes everyone on a trip. She flew with me to play golf in Scotland. Actually, Ann came too and they toured castles, gardens and a whisky (you know it's from Scotland if there is no e in whiskey) distillery while I explored the great golf courses. Also, there were some terrific cathedrals, some in ruins like St Andrews, some were usable today where no doubt liturgy is spoken today.
In Love Big Be Well Winn Collier's main character, Jonas recounts a surprise sharing of whiskey and biscuits with grandma on his 18th birthday. She was carrying on a family tradition, a liturgy if you will. Jonas continues with his letter,
It strikes me as I'm writing this, that my Grandma McAnn was a liturgist. She fashioned a life and rhythm that formed in me a way of seeing the world and a way of being present to the world. Some of us weary of the church's liturgy and wonder if it isn't time to chuck these weathered forms. But I couldn't possibly agree. How could I ever believe it appropriate to discard, either in my family or my faith, the very practices that have made me who I am, the very practices I hope have helped make my own children who they will be?
You recall, I'm sure that liturgy means "the work of the people." It is our work to remember God. It is our work to remember who we are. It is our work to remember we're part of a family, a long line of women and men, strangers and strugglers and dreamers who have gathered around this table Jesus made possible. Even though we are continually immersed in wonder, it is difficult for us to remember how this beauty rests everywhere.
And of course, liturgy is something we do together. None of us contrived these prayers or blessings on our own. My grandmother invited me into her story, and the Church (all the mothers and fathers before us) invites us into her story. The invitation arrives every week. What a relief it is to know we don't carry this faith alone. Liturgy allows us to affirm truths we might not even believe just yet, or truths we're simply too exhausted to hold up with our own weary prayers.
If liturgy bores you from time to time, you're in good company. I can't imagine anyone who's stuck with anything worth sticking with who hasn't had more than a few experieinces of feeling half-hearted and carried along by others' prayers. This is precisely one of liturgy's greatest gifts: it invites us to be carried along.
Love Big Be Well is one of those books that moves my soul this way, and tugs my soul that way, eventually drawing forth deep true parts of myself that have laid covered under busyness and distraction. What's true in me? What's true about God? What's true about friendship? The answers float inside and seem virtually impossible to honor in words.
Love Big Be Well takes on these great questions of life and church. I can't help wonder how these have impacted Winn these past couple weeks as he lives them out as a pastor in Charlottesville, VA. Where has he found hope? When has he felt hopeless? How has he felt a unique touch from God in the tension and chaos from the events and deaths in his town?
Prayers for you Winn and All Souls Charlottesville as you care for one another and your community.