Wise Words

The following is a short list of themes that emerged out of classroom discussions of everything from the economics of church construction to what instructions to give a local parish flower committee. They are little theological vignettes, usually in the form of prescriptive statements about how we might best approach liturgy:    

o “We don’t worship to make God love us, but because God loves us. Nothing in worship should imply otherwise.”

o “Remarkably, God welcomes the entire range of human experience in our prayer. Honest prayer and balanced worship involve confession, thanksgiving, praise, and lament.”

o “We don’t sing in order for God to be present, but because God already is present. Nothing in worship should imply otherwise.”

o “Praise affirms and adores God. By implication, it denies false gods and idols. It protests gods our culture erects in place of God. Good liturgy should show both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ implied in our praise.”

o “What we remember and what we anticipate define our identity. Good worship forms us in Christian identity by active recall of the past and active anticipation of the future. Good worship doesn’t dismiss the past as irrelevant or the future as too vague to anticipate.”

o “When we show up for worship, we don’t create the song of praise. We join in to a continuous song of praise that includes the music-like praise of animals and oceans, and believers from every time and space. Good liturgy helps us see that expansive vision.”

John D. Witvliet, “Teaching Worship as a Christian Practice,” in For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry, 139

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