Thursday, August 10, 2006

The blog name—StrongCenterOpenDoor—seems to contradict the postmodern context that I want to address and explore in relationship to liturgy. In the opening blog I carelessly wrote: Postmodernity is increasingly decentered and deuniversalized. It would have been better to say that our world is increasingly decentered and deuniversalized. The two “d” words are synonyms for the postmodern world and experience.

Oddly, my intent for this blog is to affirm central things in Christian worship while also acknowledging the wide horizon and diverse dimensions of psychic, social and cosmic life.

While I accept that Christian worship is diverse and quite messy in each local expression, I am convinced that it is critical that worship find focus in its historic and ecumenical center: liturgy enacted around font, lectern and table. All the candles, crosses, songs, and worship centers in the world will be so much froth on our beer if seekers and seeking communities don’t engage with the God who meets us in bath, word and meal.

“Postmodernity doesn’t accept givens,” is the chant of the chorus. I wonder if postmoderns can welcome “gifts”? Is there room in a decentered world for peculiar tribal practices—gifts given by the Mystery known in water, complex and mysterious stories, and meals crowded with metaphors.

Maybe the deconstructed world dislikes gifts in the abstract. Perhaps, even Christians are dubious about anything that smacks of ancient origins. Perhaps the only way to find bath, story and meal as central to our existence is to be present to them as seekers and enter into what happens there in the fluidity of experience.

This week I was a lecturer for a gathering of seekers on the spiritual path. Eucharist was part of each day’s communal round, along with praying morning and night prayer. Each day we broke bread that we smelled baking. On the fourth day the community splashed the water in renewal of their baptismal covenant and laid hands on each other with prayer for continuing work of the Holy Spirit. Then we ate the Eucharistic bread as communion with the risen Christ, each other, and the saints and sinners of all the ages. It was tribal practice around central things.

Gift? You’d have to ask the participants. Or, ask someone who shares the bath and the meal in the context of the Word where you worship.

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