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the book that is changing my life

Friday, October 4, 2013


I wrote this last spring.  It was one of the first posts I shared on A Wide Mercy.

I have read books that have inspired me.  Books that have opened my heart, fired me up, helped me see people instead of issues.  But right now, one book is changing my life.

It is the Book of Common Prayer.

We recently stepped out of a faith tradition that teaches knowledge is the key to a healthy spiritual life.  Right thinking leads to right living, and spiritual growth occurs almost exclusively through study.  Intellectualism is held in highest regard.  It is a heady, heavy way to approach God. 

And some people thrive in it.  I know happy, healthy believers who live well inside this faith tradition.  For a time I did too.  I saw God and the world through a religiously intellectual lens, and I functioned happily within it.  

Until our lives unraveled, and I suffocated under the weight of knowledge.


What happens to a person's faith when experience no longer fits into the provided grid?

Under that system, there is no room to openly doubt, or to trust an experience I could not prove.  Knowledge was revered to the exclusion of other paths to God, such as the Sacraments, contemplation, or relationships.  When I was no longer sure of what I knew, I retreated, both from God and from my community.  By the time we left it, I had shut down completely.  The nurturing comfort of a loving God felt like a song I used to know, but I couldn't remember the tune.  

Liturgy is like hearing the song again. 

Liturgical worship does not depend on my understanding.  It does not rely on what I can prove.  I do not need to think a certain way in order to interact with God.  Nor does it rely on my emotions, which are as susceptible to the squirming preschooler beside me as they are to the almighty presence of God.  Liturgical worship simply affirms the same things that were true thousands of years ago remain true today.  There is a mystery and a vastness to faith that we are foolish to try to dissect, but can trust completely.

For the past couple of years I was uncertain of what I knew, and I felt almost nothing - yet there was a deep hunger for God's loving presence compelling me to continue to search for Him.  Liturgical worship recognizes that hunger as its own form of holiness.  We read Scripture, offer our confessions to God, extend peace to one another.  We pray for each other, then accept Christ's sacrifice in ourselves through the Eucharist.  For thousands of years, believers all over the world have worshipped God this way.  Each week I simply step into the reality of the mystery of faith:  Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

My only personal task is to remain open to him.

Each week I am healed, little by little.  It took a long time for me to become as emotionally and spiritually unhealthy as I was, and it will take a long time for me to be restored fully.  But God is working, slowly, thoroughly, deliberately.  Through His sweet presence and the Book of Common Prayer.



7 comments:

  1. I love this post, we have just returned to my roots, where liturgy is used. I am learning to love it again. Thanks again for writing :)

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  2. Are you talking about the PCA?

    Come to Austin so we can discuss over wine, please?

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  3. Do you have one? A Book of Common Prayer? Can you tell I've been thinking about this post?

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    1. I do! It is the retired version, I think, but the same information, of course. =)

      Hey Kira, I would love to talk to you through email, but I don't know how to contact you (and I'm not sure how to get blogger to let me email you directly). Will you send me an email at awidemercy@gmail.com?

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  4. We had been attending an episcopalian church for the past few years and have since left a year ago to start an Anglican Church which we are so blessed by. It was all new for me, coming for a non-denominational background within very charismatic churches, so the adjustmebt took a while. However, I am continually amazed by the beauty of liturgy and too love the book if common prayer. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this where we would end up, but know I'm in the right place

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