Coming to terms with who we are is a catalyst for becoming the person God authentically created us to be. Being aware of who we are which includes our baggage we carry around, our faults, our fears, our dreams, our accomplishments, our failures and so on and so forth is healthy. God has intricately made and formed us in the womb; we are fearfully made (Psalm 39). In the continual discovery of who I am (some might call this life) keeping in mind who made me and whose I am, helps me admit and come to terms with certain aspects of being me. Therefore, I will readily admit this to you, the reader: I am in love with our liturgy. There, I said it.
Now that I have confessed this to God and neighbor, I will also disclose that our liturgy is what makes me unabashedly Episcopalian. In fact, the liturgy is probably the best selling point when I market the Episcopal Church to friends, family, and the random stranger in the produce section at Kroger. We Episcopalians are a people of a prayer book (it’s like your VISA card, don’t leave home without it). Open up that prayer book and you will find 1,001 pages (yes, I had to look it up) that make up the core of our identity; that make up the core of our being as liturgical people.
Our liturgy is nothing less than an encounter with the living God. It changes lives. It for sure changed mine. Our liturgy enables me to believe. When I came to the Episcopal Church when I was 13 years old, the first thing I did was become an acolyte which began my love affair with the liturgy. I still remember the acolyte sponsor (who presented me at my ordination to the priesthood back in January) telling us during our training that if we have no clue what we are supposed to be doing, just bow. It is the most natural thing you can do in the liturgy. What we say and what we do in the liturgy has a purpose. It is not arbitrary. It is rooted in deep tradition and theology. Our movements are just as much of a prayer to God as our words.
What I wish for every person at the Chapel of the Cross, and every Episcopalian for that matter, is to fall in love with the liturgy like I have, so much, that it becomes an addiction in every sense of the word. I want it to be something that we all cannot do without. Something we yearn and desire to participate in and when we forego it for some time, we find there is something missing in our lives.
A long-time member of my home parish of St. Paul’s in Meridian decided that he wanted to try different churches. After a few years away from the Episcopal Church, he decided to come back. I asked him what it was that brought him back home. He told me it was the liturgy. After that conversation, I began to correlate the liturgy to “being home.” Like the prodigal son, we may stray far away from it, but in the end we can always come home to it. And like the father in the prodigal son, it will always be there for us waiting to bring us back to God.