A close friend tells the story of landing at her current church, an Anglican congregation in Colorado Springs. She and her husband had visited a number of churches, never finding what they sought. Then one Sunday afternoon, she turned to her husband and said, “Honey, we’re going liturgical!” And they did.
I never anticipated “going” in this direction. My grandfather is the retired pastor of an Evangelical-Free Church. My uncle pastored a small Bible church. My family always went to the standard non-denom style church. Come to church. Sit in pew. When music begins, stand or sit as directed and sing along. Between music and pastor’s arrival on the stage, pray. Listen to a sermon. Pray. Maybe sing another song. Dismiss.
Then, over the course of a couple of years, I attended two different churches. These churches are doctrinally sound. As far as I could tell, the leadership seemed solid. The music was worshipful. The congregation seemed happy. I left these churches not because they had failed me. I left because I was looking for something more. I left because I was unwittingly going liturgical.
When I arrived at my church home, the same small Anglican congregation as my friend, I took some time to consider before I claimed that particular gathering as my own. However, it only took one service to know that liturgy is what I had been seeking.
My role as a spectator in previous church services had become incessant to me, like the dripping of a leaky faucet. One Sunday after another of spoonfed worship. Perhaps it was my own soul’s flaw, as not everyone who attends a non-liturgical church feels “spoonfed”. But participation and responsibility in worship became a thirst. Liturgy quenches that thirst.
The reactions of a few friends and family were notable. It was as though we had lost our religious minds. One relative reacted with such concern, you’d think we’d pulled a Britney Spears and shaved our heads or gone out on the town without undergarments. You could almost hear her rubbing her forehead with the thought, Anglican is almost Catholic! Good Baptists just don’t do that.
We made the decision with careful consideration and counsel. We have gone liturgical. I probably will not go back. I love reciting prayers with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love watching them stand in line for the same bread and wine. I love being part of an ancient church tradition.
Tomorrow begins my first Lent, celebrated Anglican style. I am going to Ash Wednesday service at 8AM and I will leave with ashes on my forehead. I will fast from food for the day. I will fast as God personally convicts for six weeks, in anticipation of Easter. I look forward to what God will accomplish in my weakness.