“The offering of the body in prayer is at the heart of life and includes everything in our daily life.” (124) So writes Caryll Houselander. She speaks of it “giving the majesty of liturgical action.” She adds that we “carry this idea into the world…making life a liturgy.” When we live this way, we do so with liturgical power.
For the large majority of 2015, we worshipped with the Episcopalians. I’m grateful to have gotten better acquainted with the Episcopal Church and with its liturgy. I have come to admire the Book of Common Prayer. I love its beautyand the way I have been introduced to actually singing much of the service. That includes the Gloria in Excelsis (“Glory to God in the highest”). In a number of ways, that worship has soaked into me. (I even make the sign of the cross!) A couple who invited us for dinner said they like the structure of the Episcopal service.
Still, seeing at a distance where you’ve come from lends a new perspective and appreciation. That’s been my experience as a Presbyterian. I told Banu that I have a newfound understanding and affection for our Book of Common Worship. That also applies to the Hymnal, which even has the Gloria in Excelsis as numbers 566 and 575. (That’s the “blue” 1990 version!)
And truth be told, I prefer the prayers of confession of sin and the prayers of the Great Thanksgiving, which accompany the Eucharist (or the Lord’s Supper). I like the variety in them, as they change with the seasons of the church year. The Presbyterian liturgy has a number of affirmations of faith, not just the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds. I know that these things are true of some other church liturgies.
Having said all that, if these various aspects of worship do not result in our living liturgically—if we do not carry this beauty, majesty, and love into the world—we are, as St. Paul says, but “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”; we “gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:1, 3).