What the Fourth of July Taught Me About Liturgy3
My wife and I scrambled to get our kids dressed up for the fourth of July parade. We were clearly behind schedule and our friends were already at the designated meet-up location. By the time we got there, the parade had already started, but we were able to watch the end with everyone. As we walked down the street decked out in red, white, and blue, we were greeted by cheering smiling people on the sidewalks. We all walked in unison for a few blocks, headed toward the park where there were more festivities. As we arrived, a band played live music and tables were set with hot dogs and all the sides you could want. Someone grabbed a mic, welcomed everyone, and led us through the Pledge of Allegiance. People removed their hats as a sign of honor and others placed their hands on their hearts as we pledged our allegiance. A young girl came up to sing the Star-Spangled Banner and as the song reached its heights, the crowd began to cheer in celebration as we remembered the sacrifices of those who’d gone before us.
As I drove home from the parade, I reflected on my experience and I noticed something about what had happened to me. I started off my day before the parade distracted and unappreciative of the country we live in. This wasn’t intentional, it was simply a by-product of busyness. However, after I walked through the parade and its traditions, I found myself strangely grateful for my country. I was reminded of the power of liturgy and corporate rhythms, that good liturgies lead you somewhere and function as meditative storytellers. I was reminded that what we do as we gather matters. Song and melody not only unite us with others, but also touch parts of our hearts that might surprise us. This Independence Day liturgy took a truth that wasn’t immediately at the forefront of my mind and moved me from passive forgetfulness into active gratitude.
How much more should the church seek to surround itself in rhythms and liturgies that help us faithfully tell and experience the story of the gospel week in and week out? While each service or individual portion of the liturgy might not feel tremendously significant, never forget or underestimate the cumulative effect of such practices in your life! Craft liturgies that take people by the hand through the story of our salvation, that help others lift their eyes from whatever they’ve been consumed with to behold the glory of God, that expose false idols and refuges and point us back to our true home. Think thoughtfully about the curvature and flow of your services as well as embedding it with songs, lyrics, and prayers that stir wonder and wakefulness. Every week, may our liturgies function as pillars of smoke and fire that lead people from distraction and wandering back into deep gratitude for God and all he’s accomplished for us in Christ.
Joel Limpic (@joellimpic) lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and twin daughters. He works at Park Church as their Pastor of Liturgy & Arts and helps run The Verses Project, a collaborative project that creates musical & visual art to help others memorize & meditate on Scripture.