City Church will begin a series of blogs reflecting on Tish Harrison Warren's book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. Our strange times are the farthest thing from ordinary, but her book explores the transformation that happens in the daily, monotonous rhythms of our lives. As many of us feel stuck doing all of life at home, we remember how all of life is worship.
Warren's first chapter is about waking, and I am writing this a few moments after being pulled out of the warm cocoon of my bed by impatient children wanting help reaching the bagels and opening a fresh box of cereal. But Warren's first chapter isn't about what is or isn't done first after waking. It is about whose we are upon waking, even when, especially when, all that follows is nothing but a succession of mundane moments.
For those staying at home, it can feel as though our days are nothing but small moments, but "God is forming us into a new people. And the place of that formation is in the small moments of today." There used to be moments of excitement to mark the passing of our days and weeks and months and years, but to my chagrin, these boring places are the places of formation—the places where God meets us and we live our lives before him.
In her book, Warren takes the patterns of an ordinary day and reveals the patterns of worship inherent in them. She begins her litany of liturgies with a reminder of who we are before we begin: "We are united with Christ and the approval of the Father is spoken over us. We are marked from our first waking moment by an identity that is given to us by grace: an identity that is deeper and more real than any other identity we will don that day." Whatever rhythms our day holds, we have all the approval we need before we even begin.
We will continue to explore the different chapters in Warren's book, chapters that have titles like "Losing Keys" and "Eating Leftovers" and teach us about worship and formation. Talk of worship and formation makes me wonder, who will we be when it is safe to gather? When we can again enjoy a shared meal, a shared walk, a shared space, how will our time apart shape us? On that beginning of that day too, in Christ we will have a new identity before we even begin.