Formed by Liturgy and Sacrament (Part 1 – Liturgy) – Reflection for 30 JUN 2019
We are constantly formed, transformed, or deformed by the world around us. We can choose to be passively formed by our various encounters with people, institutions, entertainment, advertising, and other sensory media. We can also choose to actively seek to be formed in a certain manner by choosing who and what we encounter and how we react to those encounters.
We live today in a hyper-connected world. The images and advertisements we encounter in the entertainment, news, and social media seek to shape and form our desires and expectations. If we allow it, culture will define for us standards of beauty and truth, standards of pleasure and pain, even standards of right and wrong, good and evil.
We live in a world that distorts, loads, and encumbers the words we use. We seem to have fewer words but each word carries more and more meanings, nuances, and potential for misunderstanding. These words are then adopted and changed by different groups into a specialized lingo. The groups with which we associate form us in and through the language and meaning they teach us.
We live in a world of calendars and planners. We have morning routines, weekly meetings, family commitments, and pretty soon a schedule that is overcommitted and undernourishing. As we get busy, we often allow our relationship with God, our most meaningful relationships with family and closest friends, and our care for our own health and well-being to suffer. We are formed by our habits, our routines, and our practices.
What if we were to choose to be formed by God instead of the world? What if we could choose to be formed into the image of Christ rather than the image of popular culture? What if there were another source to form our desires and expectations, our language, our habits and our thought patterns?
“The collects, the Prayers of the People, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and other forms of liturgical prayer teach us what to desire and what to expect from God, give us language with which to approach God, and, through constant use, dig the spiritual aqueducts through which the living waters of the Spirit are released in our lives and prayers.” – David deSilva in Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer
One of the great beauties of liturgical worship both in our Sunday service and in the Daily Office is the way that our habits are formed in the words of Scripture and the tradition of the church. As we allow liturgy to form us slowly and gently over time, we find that our desires, our language, our relationship with God, and our openness and recognition of the presence of God are indeed transformed.