Last week was anything but routine in my community. Hurricane Irma, which was Tropical Storm Irma by the time it arrived here, blew through on Monday and disrupted pretty much everything for the rest of the week. Lack of electricity, storm damage to homes, businesses shuttered because of no power, schools out for the entire week—and the story was not unique to our city. Our church housed 100 law enforcement personnel who were sent to assist, so going to work (thankfully the church never lost power) was a reminder that the order of the week was not business as usual.
Almost all our weekday events were cancelled because facilities were used to house and feed our guests. The one thing that stayed on the calendar was our weekly Taize service. I was grateful for that anchor because the activities of the week that help orient me to God through prayer and fellowship with my faith family were on an Irma hiatus.
It reminded me how much I crave order and consistency, and how much life anchored by these occasions of prayer and fellowship is an act of liturgy for me. The various gatherings for prayer, study and meals connect me to God and to my faith community.
Liturgy means “the work of the people” and that work occurred by means other than our usual activities. Our church did much of its “liturgy” last week in the kitchen, preparing three meals a day for the men and women who were making us their home base for most of the week. It was inspiring to see the hospitality offered and the dedication and abundance of volunteers.
I was also reminded that God breaks into routine and offers us the opportunity to wake up from the lethargy that can happen when our lives get so systematic that we go through them on autopilot. In the midst of the dis-order of the week, I had a couple of occasions of God showing up in unlikely ways and places. That I could recognize these for what they were I attribute to the regular rhythm of prayer that forms my own personal liturgical practice.
There are those who discount liturgy, seeing it as old and stiff, but I think a liturgical life gives us a framework that grounds us so that we recognize the Spirit where we might not otherwise. Just as a building needs good framing, a life of faith needs practices that provide order and rhythm, but with space for the Spirit to move through and awareness to recognize the Spirit’s movements.
What are the practices, the routines that provide the framework for your life, that form your own liturgy?