Wrong turn on the way to nowhere in particular

I had intended to visit a Prebyterian church today, but the church I had thought I identified as Presbyterian turned out to be Episcopalian. So be it; today I glimpsed the Episcopalian concept of assembly.

I have read accolades of liturgical services as a way to transcend the vagaries of our personal devotion. This service did not inspire in me a sense of peace in submission to a higher order, but more a feeling of a ritual of comfort. As a child might depend on a bedtime ritual to anchor a sense of parental dominion over the uncertainty of night, I felt in that service an attempt to invoke the peace of Christ through a ritual. The prescribed readings and responses precluded any possibility of mistake or error, and did not prompt me to ask what God is doing or why he is doing it, but to abandon all questions to the general belief that as he is able to do any thing, so all my concerns will be fittingly resolved.

There may be so many times in a Christian’s life when he must trust in God without knowing specifically what God will do, or why he has so arranged events. This peace and rest may be arrived at by a liturgical means, as small as the recital of a psalm or, perhaps, as grand as a High Church ceremony. Thus it is not to the effect of this Episcopalian service, nor its particular form, that I address my remonstrance. Rather, it is in using this liturgy as the sum and substance of the gathering of the saints that I find the practice deficient. It reduces Jesus’s constant work to get his disciples to understand him as the fulfillment of all prophecy and every scripture–that is, to understand the nature of God and his purpose and his work–into the Lord’s prayer.

Comfort is necessary, but it is only one step in the process of growth.

One Comment on "Wrong turn on the way to nowhere in particular"

  • Arlan Post author

    Some of the details of the service contradict the sense of my description, so to be more accurate I will mention as a post-script that there was one period of freeform commentary offered by one of the officiates. This still did not offer the congregants an opportunity to take part in understanding the whole work of the Lord.

    I don’t like to criticize incidentals, but it illustrates the sense of a general lack of understanding that during this commentary, the officate wrongly identified Ezekiel as addressing the Roman diaspora. None of the Old Testament prophets addressed Jews displaced by the Romans; Ezekiel was speaking to the Babylonian diaspora.

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