Our churches, especially where liturgy is not automatic or routine, have an unparalleled opportunity today for the renewal of liturgy. Where clear-thinking people celebrate their companionship with one another and with human struggles through out the ages, separations can be healed through the revival of the art of worship. However, just as it is difficult for someone who has never heard baroque music to understand the musical language of Bach, so we must overcome the prejudice against liturgical forms to develop and communicate with a rich religious language. Such a language appeals to the entire person. Without it Unitarian Universalism will continue to be for many a revolving door into the secular world. Without it our children will find our intellectual emphasis inadequate to sustain their commitment to our movement, as they will also find the cute "smelling the flower is worship" too weak to inform their decisions with wisdom. With a rich liturgical tradition we can build temples of meaning and societies of justice.
To develop an empowering liturgy, the professional UU leadership must turn from the charismatic model. The churches must turn from narcissism. No longer may we pride ourselves as mavericks. We must become virtuosi in the art of worship. Instead of inventing the wheel each week in each church in our individual ways, we must develop disciplines for sharing the technical as well as "spiritual" aspect of worship as we use it and live it in our churches and lives. While each congregation must retain control over its own worship, such disciplined sharings—tested through wide rather than idiosyncratic usage—offers a hope for moving beyond pulpit exchanges and shuttling programs towards a body of powerful common liturgy adaptable to specific situations. Such disciplines would refine, enrich and enlarge our practices into a genuine living and growing liturgical tradition.
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Last updated on Monday, April 11, 2011.
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