Liturgy of the Ordinary
Our lives are filled with activity and rituals that shape us into who we are. As created beings, we are made to worship our Creator. However, sin can distort and twist our desires to worship other things-- ourselves, money, success; even those who claim to be atheist are worshipping people. Sunday morning’s liturgy helps to orient us into people who rightly worship but our actions and habits throughout the week also shape us and orient us to worship; the question is, are they forming us to worship the same God that we profess to worship on Sunday? Do we truly believe that the Triune God we encounter in the Sunday service meets us in the ordinariness and messiness of our Monday through Saturday lives as well?
The Rev. Tish Harrison Warren expounds upon the truth that “God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today” in her book the Liturgy of the Ordinary. Warren explores God’s involvement in such mundane tasks as waking up in the morning and making the bed, to brushing our teeth, to even checking email.
The book connects various aspects of our weekly, ordinary lives to the liturgy we use on Sunday morning. This helps the reader to not only orient herself more fully to God in all aspects of her life but also to better understand the Sunday liturgy. For example, Warren connects our identity as beloved and chosen children of God given to us in baptism to our first waking moments in the morning. She connects the placement of a baptismal fount at the entrance of the sanctuary in some churches to remind worshippers as they enter that they enter in as baptized children of God to a person’s first waking moments when they are most vulnerable and reminds them that in that moment, too, they are starting the day as baptized children of God. On this topic she writes, “we are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity that we will don that day.”
The Rev. Warren not only explores the liturgy but also topics including social justice, Christian community, and vocation. She writes with clarity and humor throughout her book. This book is one that could be read in an afternoon but is best savored slowly over a week or several weeks. This book, while deeply theological is also quite practical, and is always pointing the reader to be shaped into the image of Jesus Christ. Rev. Warren gives poignant examples and also offers practices in the chapters and at the back of the book to better assist the reader in orienting herself to God in the midst of the mundane.
I recommend Liturgy of the Ordinary if you are looking for a simple but profound book that can help you better see God in the ordinary, even boring, parts of your day, and to become more aware of how these things shape you. You don’t even need to be Anglican to receive the beauty and brilliance of her writing!
This book reminded me in a fresh and clear way of my identity in Jesus Christ; it demonstrated biblical and theological truths in clear and fresh ways so that I actually remembered them in the business and boringness of my life. I found myself (and continue to find myself) referring to this little book in various conversations with friends and colleagues. I hope that you will read it and that it will bless you as much as it’s blessed me!