Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On Not Getting Anything Out of the Liturgy, 1 - Addendum: Doing Liturgy is Like Going to the Gym

I still need to write part 4 of the liturgy posts, but I have an addendum to post 1 that has been rolling around in my mind.

If liturgy is about offering, then it is a corollary to taking up the cross. Liturgy is the work of giving myself in offering to God. If that is the case, I wonder if the following simile is helpful to communicate the nature of what "going to church" is in a liturgical context. Perhaps, we should see going to church/doing the liturgy as being primarily like going to the gym rather than like going to school to learn things (the traditional evangelical picture) or going to a rock concert to have an affective experience (the contemorary worship picture).

Now I am not saying that one does not or should not go to liturgy to get something out of it. The question is what is it we are getting and how does one go about getting it. Think about hte gym simile. One clearly gets something out of going to the gym. One is made more healthy. But any given time one goes to the gym to workout-- or most times for that matter -- it is a quite mundane affair. One can go for weeks and do the same workout over and over and over. Also, once on is basically in shape, one keeps going to the gym not to get in shape but to stay in shape -- there is a maintenance posture in place.

So I am thinking this might be a good simile to get at part of what is happening in the liturgy. Of course the most important question is always, "What is God getting out of this?" not, "What am I getting out of it?" But the second question, imho, is not illegitimate, it simply needs to be kept in the right place. Also, it is a question that all of us ask at some point. I doubt if anyone would give themselves to liturgical worship if they did believe there was a net gain from it.

Well -- any thoughts? I would love some feedback/comeback on this. If it is a helpful simile than I plan to use it in my priestly ministry. Thanks!

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