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What Is Liturgy?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2020 1:00 am

What Is Liturgy?

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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November 26, 2020 1:00 am

Douglas Kaine McKelvey, author of "Every Moment Holy," talks about his introduction to the Book of Common Prayer and how it changed his thinking about structured prayer. McKelvey explains the meaning of liturgy, and gives an example by reading the liturgy he wrote for the family grieving the loss of a pet. McKelvey explains how reading liturgical pieces like the Lord's prayer can help us think prayerfully and help us process God's truth. He also explains how the Holy Spirit can be just as present in a liturgical prayer as in a spontaneous prayer.

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Every Moment Holy, Vol. 2: Death, Grief, and Hope pre-order. https://www.everymomentholy.com/hope

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Doug McKelvey remembers a spiritual turning point in his life when somebody gave him a prayer book book of common prayer to use for daily devotions more than anything else in it. It was the prayer of confession that just struck me and it was specifically the phrase where were repenting for things done and things left undone that stuck in my brain like a grain of sand in an oyster and help to shape my theology in certain ways over the over the decades that followed. This is family life today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson and Bob Lapine will hear today about how God took Doug McKelvey on a spiritual journey from that introduction to a prayer of confession in the Anglican book of common prayer and will hear about how we can make every moment in our lives more stable and welcome to family life today. Thanks for joining us. So I grew up with a prejudice. My prejudice was that this was shape the need to explain this. I grew up in a in a church where I don't remember hearing the gospel shared but we were regular, going to church in part because I like to sing in the choir and they had a good high school choir so that's why was gone, but in I think was 10th grade. I went through communicants class now communicants class meant they were they were thinking about letting me into the church right so I had this was church membership, you go through the class you learn this the new are welcomed in and you have your first communion. So I I went through this class and one of the papers that I had to write for this class was on what things would you change about the church and why one of the things I said as I would change these wrote prayers that get prayed in church because nobody means what they're saying they're just reading words off of a page. I thought it was in conflict with what Jesus teaches in Matthew chapter 6 about vein repetition. Don't do this, vein repetition, so here's what I grew up thinking liturgy equals lifeless. There is no spiritual life in liturgy. It's just a form it's just a pattern you go through it and at the end of the day. Nothing's happened if your spirituality is spontaneous, there is life there but if it's formal there is no life in that light I held onto that prejudice for a long time until I was in New York City. First time I ever going to New York and I went to up I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and how old were you at this time so I'm in my mid-30s and I was just looking at St. Patrick's never seen a big cathedral like this was beautiful and this was after hours. It was on a Sunday that had worship services there and somebody had left the liturgy from that service on the chair and with my presupposition. I kind of picked it up looking at it gone. Yeah, I wonder what kind of hocus-pocus is in here and I opened it up and I started reading through the prayer of confession that was in this liturgy and I was all of a sudden struck by the fact that this prayer that was printed out here was a little more substantive in terms of confessing sin than I usually was in my spontaneous confession of sin that this was actually a a God that would help me think more clearly and more deeply about what I want to be talking to God about at this point and if if all I was doing was chanting the words then clearly that that's nothing. But if I'm looking at this in going this can help guide me deeper in my spiritual journey. Then, than I would normally go on my own and that was a paradigm shift for me to start to go. Some of the things that our fathers before us knew about the Christian life. We can learn from. Now there's balance in all of that and that the reason I tell a story is because working to talk today about liturgy which is a pretty unusual subject on family life today and some of our most is maybe going about what liturgy and and I'm not even sure what that means. I'm a little afraid of it and maybe they have my prejudice against liturgy.

Did you ever think about liturgy or liturgical forms, hide and go up in the church that I do remember stepping inside a few churches and everyone stand and would repeat the liturgy and I was confused. I like what is happening to people meanness the words were beautiful. I was struck by the depth and meaning of the words.

I also thought July field test should I say if I don't feel this you have Dave I yeah I remember 12 years old Episcopal Church standing.

There is a young boy with my single mom and doing liturgy recited in feeling some of the same things you did like do we mean this dry understand this and somehow I never forget this. My mom convinced the priest at this church, let me play my acoustic guitar, which had never been in this church.

This is the 16th in church and it was like a gas you don't bring an acoustic guitar somehow. I remember I got up there and I was playing the offertory right fingerpicking BS and other forget this. It was a very nervous moment because the whole church was staring at me like we've never done this before I member I had a baseball game to go to his soon as I get on my little deal and I was playing and they brought the offering of the plates and they placed it on right beside and I swung the neck of the guitar in the offering. Now onto the floor which ruin the whole bombing and it was just closing the me ever church. As you know it was a Ford, but I do remember the feeling in that church. This is a church that when my little brother died River and Ashton was in our home to help us through that and it was high church and I I missed it later down, you know, I don't think I understood it as a young boy I was sort of like you, but I was stuck trying to piece it together saves this deep and is there is it meaningful and I didn't discover it was until years later. Now that we've got a guy joining us today who has embraced liturgy and kind of a home and went back these written a book called every moment. Holy which is a collection of liturgies for not for church use, but for personal use settled for every area of your life is a clay liturgy for laundering a liturgy for washing of windows for home repair before taking the stage. That's one maybe we should go on through happening sometimes and be thinking what I'm going to read this before I do my laundry. I can barely pray click so Doug McKelvey joins a stud welcome to family life today. Thank you so much. So hear us talk about our our views of liturgy you grew up in East Texas.

I did did you grow up in a liturgical tradition. I did not. It was interesting hearing you describe your journey because in some ways. Mine was similar, though coming from a different perspective denominationally because I grew up very much with the suspicion of anything liturgical of anything that seemed formalized rather than spontaneous and it was only during the time that I was in college that really the wheels came off of the theology that I hadn't heard of accumulated along the course of my years growing up and I was left not knowing what to believe. Other than the basic fundamentals of the face a crisis of faith free very much so very much so that it was during that time that I was first introduced to the book of common prayer, which might've been the same writing book you were referencing and more than anything else in it.

It was the prayer of confession really that just struck me because as I read it I just instinctively thought this is something I can trust. There is the weight of the history of the body of believers that have gone before me who have crafted their theology, a scriptural theology into an expression that can lead me that can guide me and it was specifically the phrase where were repenting for things done and things left undone that stuck in my brain like a grain of sand in an oyster and help to shape my theology in certain ways over the over the decades that followed what I would sit down to confess sin, and I know I'm supposed to do this I should reflect on what I need to confess I'm consciously thinking okay what bad things have I done and the prayer of confession of the book of common prayer which says, but we've sinned against you in thought, word and deed. I didn't stop to consider what bad thoughts that I had.

I was just thinking what bad things about done.

I wasn't the what bad words have I said I was just thinking, action, and then I wasn't thinking things I hadn't done that I should've done to your point because it's that we sinned against you thought, word and deed by things done and things left undone. We've not loved you with our whole hearts would not loved our neighbors as ourselves almost an ongoing hoe. It's worse than I realized. My sin is a bigger deal Mike. The categories for sin have now been expanded, not just what wrong thing that I do earlier today but what impure thoughts about header. What should I have done that I ignored. And yet it feels impersonal in some ways, if you're all standing together here reciting this together.

It's not your personal sin necessarily so highly that more personal yeah it's it's back to this whole vein repetition idea for just standing and chanting a prayer is a really anything going on spiritually. There will II think probably to explore that question we should back up a little bit and and maybe clear up some misunderstanding of the word liturgy because the reality is, every church has liturgy because liturgy is just a term that means the form and content. An order of a church service so if you sing three songs and then the preacher gets up and preaches and then you say closing prayer at your littered venture liturgy.

Yeah, and your liturgy might include moments set aside first continuity of of prayer or worship or whatever it might be. So it's not that there are some churches with liturgy and some without.

I find it interesting in looking back at my own bias against things that were more formally liturgical when I was younger and I would like to go back and ask my 16 and 18 and 20-year-old self.

What's going on with the Lord's prayer when the disciples come to Jesus and and ask him. You know, teach us how to pray and he tells them to pray this prayer, this beautiful prayer that is so packed with deep theological truths and meaning and that you could spend a lifetime and we should spend a lifetime meditating on and praying that prayer repeatedly not as a magical incantation right right but as a deep expression of truth that will lead our hearts that will form and shape our theology that will further shape our relationship to God and to what we are to be about that Jesus has just said before he teaches them to pray the Lord's prayer. He said don't use vein repetition. So to the extent that somebody stands up and just mindlessly recites the Lord's prayer there violating what Jesus just said about prayer right right you should we think of the Lord's prayer and and church liturgy or the prayer of confession.

We talked about or the prayers that you include in every moment. Holy should we think of these less as scripts to follow and more as prompts for us in our spiritual lives. I think for many people, that would be the most beneficial approach.

I think for a lot of people, myself included with that with some of the prayers that are pretty weekly from the from the book of common prayer rather than just being a prompt they do end up being deeply meaningful and an articulation of things that I would not be able to express in the moment. Apart from having that guide, something that has been very encouraging in terms of feedback that I have had from some of the prayers in every moment holy.

There is this refrain of people saying in our our beloved dog died that we had had for 12 years in art kids were devastated and we were devastated and we didn't know what to say how to pray and the liturgy for the loss of a living thing gave us the words to express what was already in our hearts, but that spontaneously we wouldn't have been able to soak terms that one really sure. Think of a family that's lost a pet or maybe it's on extended relative a loved one, but the loss of life and there's grief going on and I think of Romans eight which talks about. We have groanings too deep for words we don't know how to pray with. So the spirit prays for us. But if somebody comes along and says this can help shape your thinking and your prayers that could be beneficial in before the liturgy you say here beware of the emotions of other participants pausing to comfort one another is necessary. So again this is designed to be something that is you gather as a family and go through this. If there is weeping.

If there's if if you're overcome with grief you just slow down and be in that moment, I support one on the right yachts trying to create a space for that.

So just instruct us will be your kids.

We don't know what to do, we just lost a pet you do you explain to us. Dad what were about to do. In reading through this together. Okay okay so so this is begins King of creation here was your good creature and then there's a moment of silence you say in the book. Those who are gathered consider their thoughts and prepare their hearts in that moment here was your good creature, O Lord, pondered and called to life by your own compassionate design and then the family or the kids or whoever it would respond and say here is your good creature and hero spaces and the days when he shared enjoying the glad company has your full fellowship of a fellow creature. We made room in our lives room in our home room in our hearts to welcome your unique creation and we gave your good creature. The name and insert the name we were filled with the right and found affection for another living thing. Your hands had made delighting daily in its presence. Now the season of our shared lives is ended by death. Our hearts are unprepared for such loss and we are deeply grieved and it goes on from there. Continues actually for on to couple pages. This is again to help guide the folks who have experienced the loss into processing it in a in a godly way. The biblical way to think about loss and life and God and death likely right and I now recognize that that in the very process of of prayerfully thinking through a particular subject like this when were talking about. Now the grieving of for the loss of a pet in thinking through that wanting to understand scripturally where our hope lies in that and how to navigate this process of grief and how to help our kids navigate this process of grief and find hope even in the midst of it. I now recognize that the Holy Spirit is is just as present in that thoughtful crafting and thinking through of a prayer and in the creation of it as the Holy Spirit is present in a spontaneously offered prayer, and in that it it really has so much more to do in the praying of it with the posture of our hearts and our willingness and ability to enter into that communion with our Creator in the midst of the moment what Dave and I are in the weekly rhythm of preparing sermons for churches and if we said, you know, the only really valid sermon would be one that came spontaneously. You just need to get a right and in the moment just come up spontaneously with whatever you say because anything that you prepared ahead of time that would be formal when some really bad sermon.

So there are there some that would say that's the only time the Holy Spirit would lead a sermon in its both and right now it is interesting it in the in the forward that Andrew Peterson wrote having something caught me as I was reading it, which is exactly you're just saying night and we sort of just experience it. He says these words, he says there are no un-sacred moments. There are only sacred moments and moments we have forgotten our sacred and I love your title every moment holy is like every moment is pregnant, you know in your sorta asking us to stop and center. We are walking up here to do walk in the studio and bumped into a woman in chief has used your book and we said how the use that. She said it centers me. My wife does laundry once a week, and I'm just imagining the rhythm of a wife saying all it's laundry day. I need to get up the book. Every moment holy unto the liturgy for laundry diamond that just seems so so odd right diamond you wrote it. Does that that seem odd to you that you get out and do the liturgy for laundry before you wash the close I can recognize that the the part of it that seems odd. I think the the what seems like an ironic tension. At first, but I think that tension exists for us. To the degree that our vision of God's sovereignty over every part of our life and his presence in every moment is deficient. The reality, I think all of us would agree that God is present in every moment that there is nothing lost in God's economy. There is no sorrow that we feel there is no frustration there is no tedious chore that is not fodder for the spirit of God to use it to continue to shape our hearts and to draw us closer to him and to restore our vision to one that more closely aligns with the true forms of the kingdom of God and everything that we do, no matter how mundane and necessary in our lives takes its context in the larger story of redemption.

And it's all going somewhere it's all going to the new heavens and the new earth and our lives now and the parts of our lives now are not disconnected from that we experience them is disconnected sometimes yeah that's why I wrote this book because I wanted to remind myself and I thought if I could remind myself. Maybe it would also serve to remind other people. It and I'll add this you know even looking at the title and walking through your your prayers. And here it reminds you what you just said.

Every moment is holy in its inviting God into every moment, and we have a tendency to think it's holy it's a holy moment when it's epic.

I mean, I've been in the NFL for 33 seasons. I went through 12 different coaches with the Detroit Lions and every single coach where they had any faith or not wanted liturgy before we went on the field, they did know it, but they wanted me to lead the team in the Lord's prayer before luck and feel why because this is epic. Their livelihoods are on it. It's an NFL game its most port thing will we have to pray the Lord's prayer right that's liturgy to them and we don't do that when we do the laundry, we don't.

It's like now. Every moment is like an NFL game. It's pregnant with meaning. Consider yourself and I think it's a mom, I know that many of my days are incredibly mundane, especially when my kids were little and feels like I'm doing this. No one sees it but the truth is Jesus. God is a part of every one of those moments and so I like that it's a way of inviting him in to our spectacular moments that also are very mundane thought I would hope our listers or go online and there is information about your book available. We got in our family like today, resource Center, but I can imagine a family getting something like this and like this is so different than anything that has been a part of our spa, our families spiritual journey and just saying let's once a week. Pick one of these prayers something that's aligned with what's going on in our lives and let's just go through it together and let's read it and will read slowly and will talk about it as we read it and let's just see what it's like to to bring God into the laundry. Think of how that would shape the way your children think differently about life and about God and how all that comes together again. We get copies of Doug's book.

Every moment holy in our family like today resource Center you can order it from us online@familyliketoday.com and by the way, it's a beautiful book. It's something that your family will enjoy looking at ordered from us@familylifetoday.com or call to order at one 800 F. L. Today the book again is every moment holy online@familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F as in family L as in life, and the Lord today well on this Thanksgiving day.

Of course we are all thinking about the things for which we are thankful and one of the things were thankful is the privilege we have of connecting with you every day.

Some of you on this local radio station.

Some of your listening via podcast or through the family life app. Some of you are simply telling Alexa to play family life to. However, we are connecting. Thanks for making us a part of your commute or your jogging or your time around the house. However, you listen were glad to have you along and I'm imagining that for some of you are not regular listers, but because of the Thanksgiving day holiday in your schedule. You have tuned in and listened to this program. If your new list are welcome like to find out more about family life go to our website.

Family life to.com learn about the resources we have available about the events we host and all that were doing a family life to effectively develop godly marriages and families and for those of you who are longtime listeners. The reason you been able to connect with family life through the years is because of friends of this ministry who make this program possible listers like you who donate so that family life to can continue with our work of effectively developing godly marriages and families. If you are a regular listener and you've never made a donation on Thanksgiving day would be a good day to us. I thank you to family life and make a donation you can do that online@familylifeto.com and when you do, we'd like to return the thanks by sending you a set of Christmas tree ornaments you can use with your kids during the Christmas season to help introduce them to the one whose birth we celebrate in December. We call this the 12 names of Christmas and the ornaments are our thank you gift to you. When you make a donation today. Again, you can do that online that family life to a.com and again thanks for listing today. It's always good to have you along. I hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday and I hope you can join us again tomorrow when working to talk about some of the everyday moments in life and how we can be careful to see God at work in those moments and acknowledge his work in those moments, Doug McKelvey's can be back with us again. Hope you can be here as well. I don't think our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson on Bob Lapine see you back next time for another edition of family life today. Family life to a is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. Accrue ministry help for today hope for tomorrow


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