Monday, June 27, 2011

The Priest in Eastward Worship

“We could take a cue from Orthodoxy, whose priests stand with their backs to their congregation, leading a liturgy that is neither clever nor impassioned, but simply beautiful, like stone smoothed by centuries of rhythmic tides. It’s an austere ritual, in the sense of – there’s nothing new here; it’s sublime, in the sense of – creating a clearer view into Heaven. The priest can be any priest. Who he is, what he looks like, how he speaks, and what he thinks matter little. He hasn’t written the service that he officiates. It isn’t about him or his prowess. He’s an interchangeable functionary draped in brocaded robes, obscured by incense, and, as such, never points to himself, a flawed human, pointing ever and only to the Perfection of the Mysterious Divine. That is the role of every priest or preacher – invisibility, while making God seen.”


The more I think about it, the more I like it. Brian+


  1. Tobias Haller wrote a longer article some years back in defense of ad orientum celebration, largely consonant with this passage and also informed by his experience of professional acting.

  2. I like this! This really cuts down on the danger of the worship being directed at the priest and not where it belongs. Priest worship is a very dangerous thing.
    I've been away from my blog reading for awhile. I will have to catch up on the rest of your recent posts later during my quiet time.
    Bless you,

  3. Basic thinking about a westward celebration:
    Facing the west does not imply an intention to "single out a priest" Whether the presider faces East or west,that one is, by grace alone leading the worship , facilitating the voices of the prayers of the community, the confession of God’s people, and the pronouncing of absolution. In a westward celebration,our eyes can meet and the bread and wine freely seen by all as we join in community with a god and Saviour "who is near".