I love to plan. Lately, I seem to spend even more time than usual asking, “What’s next?”
As I watch my daughter grow into her hilarious, brilliant self, I enjoy each development even as I wonder, “When will she be interested in potty training / wear her mittens willingly / stop flinging the Christmas tree decorations around the room like ping pong balls?” What’s next for her, and for us as parents?
As I watch my husband write his dissertation, I wonder, “When will he finish writing?” “When will his dissertation defense be?” “When and where will he get a teaching job?” What’s next for him in his vocation, and what will it mean for me and mine?
As I watch my parents deal with my dad’s kidney cancer and heart failure, I wonder, “When will he really start feeling like himself again?” “When will his heart beat in a normal rhythm again?” “What is the next step in his treatment?” What’s next for my dad, for my mom, for our family and friends?
So it is a blessing–and a relief–to be held in the arms of the liturgy, where I (almost) never have to ask, “What’s next?” Last Sunday, as I sat down after my sermon and began singing the hymn of the day, I reflexively thought, “Okay, what’s next?” before realizing that, just like every Sunday, it was the creed and then the prayers of the people. I relaxed into the hymn (“Comfort, Comfort Now My People”, just the thing I needed) and into the rhythm of worship.
Of course, it’s not exactly the same every week: sometimes there is communion and sometimes, sadly, there is not; sometimes we baptize a baby or welcome new members or give kids Bibles or light special candles (during Advent, for example). But the basic shape of the liturgy is the same. It holds us, it guides us, it frees us to be present with God and with one another.
This week, give thanks for the liturgy if you happen to worship in a place that uses one. And whether or not you do, be on the look out this week for the little liturgies in your daily life. At our house, these include praying “Come, Lord Jesus” and singing “Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah” as we light the Advent wreath on our kitchen table; the car ride hymns of praise (usually Old MacDonald and Wheels on the Bus); and the bedtime ritual wherein we “drink the milk and read the book”.
What are the liturgies or rituals that hold you, now or in the past?