Sunday, February 3, 2013

Waiting: A Liturgy

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever.


The raw beauty of the liturgy gripped me that day.  I was present in church in a way I never before had been, my feet rooted to those wooden boards, my knees gravity-tugged to the ground.  When I stumbled into the sunlight afterwards, disoriented, I could hardly answer the question: "How did you like it?"  I knew then.  God was there.

Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires
known, and from whom no secrets are hid...


My favorite part of the church calendar has always been the time from the first Sunday of Advent through Easter Sunday.  The insistent longing of Advent, the sweeping winds of Lenten change, the grand glory of the Easter Vigil.  Strong emotions, sacrifice, beauty.  The Spirit is moving, pulling us in. There is peace in the center of the whirlwind.

...Cleanse the
thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit...


That place of liturgy is now my church.  The faces are familiar.  The words are even more familiar, part of my heart, my mind.  These days I rest in them -- tears occasionally come; most days, though, I say them without thinking, stumble across their holy sheen without remembering to remove my shoes.

...that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy
holy Name...

The season of Pentecost, also known as Ordinary Time, that long period that stretches from May or June through the end of November, has always seemed to me a vast, shimmering stretch of burning sand, to be endured rather than engaged in.  Usually by mid-September, I'm checking the calendar, counting the days until Advent, ticking off the weeks like a child anxious for Christmas.  I wonder, was Jesus' life like this?  All of the excitement happening at once, with long times of desert waiting between?  Why don't we spread the loveliness of the high Holy Days throughout the year instead of drinking too deeply all at once, then thirsting for months on end, our parched throats cracking, coated with dust?

Kyrie eleison.

Christen eleison.

Kyrie eleison.


It occurs to me that waiting is Pentecost.  If Christmas is the Birth, Pentecost is the pregnancy, the slow growing, the swelling, the knowing that change is coming.  Pentecost is the sitting alone, the unexpected advent of angels.  Counting days is not new to this season.  

Putting down roots in the present moment is not so difficult during the grand days, the discovery of a new liturgy, the Alleluia, Christ is Risen!  

But strength is in the waiting, finding peace in restlessness, sitting still when your thoughts swing wild.  And now I know.  God is here.


Accept, O Lord, our sacrifice of praise, this memorial of our redemption.


**All quotes in italics are from The Book of Common Prayer.



Anna Cotton said...

Speaking of waiting, it’s been a long time since we have heard from you, but what you have created is certainly worth waiting for. This liturgy is a blessing to read. It is both beautiful and meaningful. I deeply appreciate how your writing gift enabled you to weave shinning BCP text with your own compelling, thoughtful connections. Connections that my spirit responds to with a heartfelt Amen! I plan to print this out so I can hold it in my hand to return to easily. Thanks so much for sharing this. Blessings, Anna

RC said...

Beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing. Sarah, your gift for writing and your crative insights make this so special. I too love liturgy, and this post of yours deepens and sharpens my awareness and experience.

Sarah said...

Thank you both for your kind comments. They mean a lot!

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