Good Liturgy

Somehow I got invited to write for Worship Ways.

I’ve always loved their resources — written by leaders in the United Church of Christ — and love the possibility that some network of United Church of Christ churches are sharing in the same prayer at nearly the same moment. It’s another reason I love the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), but it’s what draws me to the written prayers on Worship Ways just as much. When I start planning worship, I look there. Now, I’m writing those liturgies. So, I have to start where you’re supposed to start. I have to start with the text.

This has been an amazing discipline for me — and I’m thrilled with what I’ve explored in worship. It’s a thrilling outlet to engage in this creative format even if the church I serve isn’t quite ready to engage these creative expressions. (Honestly, that’s a separate blog post. Why haven’t I pushed on that? Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know. But that’s another post entirely. Let’s try to stay on point.) I really like the worship experience I wrote around the midwives of Exodus. I love what standing on that brick did for me even in my imagination. I wonder what it will offer to a church community who attempts this daring liturgy.

Now, I’m writing my last liturgy. I was contracted to write six. This is the sixth one — and somehow it’s the hardest. I got an email last week asking me to break from the RCL for this particular Sunday as November 6 will be in Sunday in the midst of 11 days of intentional focus in our denomination to end hunger. We’re calling it Mission: 1. All of the branding for this particular event makes it seems futuristic. It looks like it could be a sci-fi convention, but the it’s not. It’s not supposed to seem impossible. It’s not even something so far in the future. It’s something we can do right now to bring God’s realm a little closer. We can end hunger. We’re going to try over 11 days. You might say it’s impossible, but it seems we’re going to live that faith that nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. So, I’m a little excited about this.

I love the texts that have been chosen. They are two of my favorites including the prayer that Jesus offers just before his death and Isaiah’s wrestling with what kind of fast is acceptable to God. I love them so much that I’m not sure how to interpret them for Mission: 1. The prayer was used in my ordination liturgy. I love that God is in me and I am in God. I love what that means for Isaiah’s struggles with worship. I love how it reinterprets our discipline to fast, but it seems too easy. That’s what I would obviously choose. That’s the reading that is closest to my heart so I should dig deeper. The challenge is that I keep coming back to this same idea. Even worse, the prayers I’ve written so far are bleh. This happened recently with a sermon I preached. I loved the text. I tried to illustrate it — and it just turned to mush. I don’t want that for this. I want more.

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