Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ancient Ways for the Ancient of Days

As a practitioner of ancient styles of worship, I’m often asked, “I’m not Catholic/Eastern Orthodox/Anglican/insert pre-reformation ecumenical classification here, why should I give a crap about that?” (Yes, I’ve heard those exact words) The most common objection is to the relevance of the Apostles’ Creed and Liturgical/Ancient ritual style worship.

The reasons to give a crap are multiple and reasonable. Read along with me:

- They connect us to the historical community of faith. They maintain a connection to the faithful of ancient times that carried our central identity (faith in Christ) and faithfully delivered it to us. It reminds us of those who’ve gone before us and reminds us that we are carrying it for the generations to come.

- The Apostles’ Creed being recited together in a community context reminds us the central tenants of the faith that gather us. It also connects us to those who were the doctors of the Church and labored intensely to preserve the purity of the Gospel message. It serves as a positive affirmation of “inclusionism” for what we are about as a community, rather than defining us in more negative exclusionistic terms, as denominations and non-denominationalists tend to do (we aren’t “insert concept, doctrine, or denomination name here”, “we aren’t a denomination” “we aren’t Calvinist” “we aren’t pretorist” “we’re pre-trib” “we’re Wesleyan” “we’re non-denominational”) squeezing out those who don’t agree with minor bents in perspective, rather than embracing those who profess belief in the Author and Perfector of our faith.

- They help us develop a rhythm of faith. I pray the Office every day (though I often miss one of them, and I generally fail completely at hitting Compline). Doing at least two of these every day helps me to refocus and re-center my heart and mind in view of things above (Colossians 3:2). I find myself going back into prayer spontaneously in response to my life, as opposed to spending time worrying about things. It helps me to constantly keep in mind that I need to be approaching life from the message of the Gospel, rather than from self-preservation and self-interest. Getting into a rhythm of faith is what has really conditioned my mind to be doing this.

- Being in a rhythm of faith helps me to be more faithful and passionate in prayer and Scripture reading outside of those ritual/liturgical things I do. I am reminded when I pray that I have not read my Bible yet that day and that I need to figure out a strategy to make room in my day to make that happen. I am reminded that I haven’t yet prayed for my missionaries or those who are seeking my harm, and that I need to do that.

- One good habit tends to lead to another. As I’ve been doing these things, it has helped me to learn what is making this a success and apply that to other parts of my spiritual life, such as developing a regular reading plan for Scripture and sharing prayer time with my wife for the needs of others.

- It helps me to achieve the command of John 15:4. I am developing a pattern of abiding. I guess it applies to the above, too (one good habit leading to something else that is good). God is bearing fruit in my life through this, not really of my own devices. I’m not a natural planner, or naturally diligent in pursuing things that I should (i.e. the spiritual disciplines). This is a huge thing for me.

I could keep going, but I think that suffices to make my point. I would really encourage those of you who read my blog to undertake these practices and see what God grows of it. I was skeptical of what I would experience when I started. It’s taken a few months to sink in (I did grow up as the classic token American evangelical in a non-denominational denomination), but I have really reaped the rewards of it in my spiritual life.

1 comment:

clumsy ox said...

I'm finding liturgical worship is very different from what I expected. I'm still working out a lot of kinks in my own personal life, though.