Woke up yesterday to a wife with a pretty upset stomach, so it was just me and the li'l stinker in Liturgy yesterday. It was really different being in the main congregation (I'm usually in the choir), but it was refreshing.
A few things I was reminded of:
- The word liturgy means "common work," or "work of the people." Were this to be "stressed from the pulpit" (or "small, moveable podium," in our case) it would at least put the ball in the court of those in the nave to sing, to pray, to pay attention...to put forth their efforts into this sacrifice, efforts of praise which St. Paul (or whomever) says are themselves a sacrifice, "the fruit of lips that confess his name" (Heb. 13:15). It was good to be a part of this work in this common way which, to be quite honest, really helps me forget myself. Sometimes reading the epistle or singing in the choir, being one of those who helps lead everyone else into prayer, can bring about the temptation to notice oneself, to acknowledge one's own visiblity. Rich Mullins said once that, after playing piano in church and thinking he'd done a very good job, his teacher (also a member of the church) reprimanded him, for he should desire to disappear so that the people could focus on Christ in prayer, not him. His awareness of common work is seen in a statement where he says the following:
"When I go to church...I involve myself in something that identifies me with Augustine, that identifies me with Christ, that identifies me with nearly 2000 years of people who have come together once a week and said, 'Let’s go to the Lord’s table and enjoy the feast that He has prepared for us.' In that week I may have been subjected to a million billboards that try to make me identify with the thinking of contemporary society. But once a week I go back to church, and acknowledge that though the shape of the world is really different now than it used to be, this remains the same: I still come to the Lord’s table and say, 'Oh God, if it weren’t for your grace, if it weren’t for the sacrifice of Christ, my life would have no meaning, no life would have real substance.' And I do that voluntarily."
- To piggyback on Rich's thoughts: I am dust. Mere dirt that has been blown on to be praise unto my Creator. To that dust, one day, I shall return, "whither we mortals all shall go," as our prayer for the departed says. The fact that I consumed the One Flesh that unites and unties us (an initial typo proved to merit keeping around just there), the One Blood that washes and frees us, the One Hope that will take the dusty, feeble parts of me that have succumbed to decay and age--this One Gift will be the seed of immortality my body (should I endure to the end in struggling with my crosses) shall put on: His glorious immortality made tangible in the Eucharist.
- My role that day, as feeder, holder, and comforter of a two-month old child there in the midst of Heaven-meeting-earth, was to take the child given me (also dust, but a much cuter configuration thereof) and present her before this life-giving Fountain, to make it, as much as I can, the center, not only of my life, but of hers (the former, I am well aware, is a necessary part of the latter's coming to pass). That we might, individually and together, be a part of that One Body who will rise up and raise us up on that final Day.