Thursday, October 11, 2012

Contemplation and Liturgy

In his recent address to the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, our Archbishop Rowan Williams said,

"Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them.  To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit.  To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly.  It is a deeply revolutionary matter."

This echos much of what I have posted in recent weeks.  Contemplative worship, which has the characteristic of predictable words and actions, forces the worshiper into the work of alert reflection and focused listening.  The constant renewal of liturgy, to capture the imagination of the dulled worshiper plays into the self-oriented passions that are the vanguard of consumer-marketing models.  The contemplative worship that Williams is speaking of is counter-intuitive to much of what has passed as lively worship, or relevant worship. We need to help people understand the dulling nature of the contemporary world, which on the surface appears to be exciting and energizing, but actually robs us of the very things that helps make disciples out of worshipers.  And we need to help people understand and encounter what Rowan Williams is saying, which in my opinion is that contemplative worship, that which appears to contemporaries as as dull and uninspiring on the surface, is actually life giving, life enhancing, and life energizing, because it enables the human heart to connect with the heart of God.

Lord have mercy,  Brian+

A recent post by Brian Owen at his blog Creedal Christianity speaks to this need for contemplative worship through the words of C.S. Lewis:

see  C. S. Lewis: "An Entreaty for Permanence and Uniformity" in Worship  HERE

 Lord have mercy,  Brian+

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