Dear sisters and brothers,
I was talking with a few people the other day about the tension in our liturgical life between consistency and newness. Some churches (like Orthodox churches) pray almost the exact same liturgy each Sunday. Other churches mix it up and do something significantly different each Sunday.
Historically, Anglican churches have attempted to live in the tension of consistency and newness. The liturgy maintains an overall structural consistency with a lot of options according to the season, etc. (which is part of the reason the Book of Common Prayer is so difficult to learn to use).
We seek to live in this tension in our Sunday liturgy: enough consistency to allow the repetition of phrases and melodies to carve “familiar grooves” in our souls that make it easy to slip into worship; but also enough newness to help us not “go to sleep” spiritually inside the liturgy.
As Americans, though, we are probably more suspicious of consistency than we need be, and less suspicious of newness than we should be. I’m reminded of a quote from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
Dear friends, may God give us the grace to exult in monotony, like children, like our Father. I’m looking forward exulting in worshipful monotony with you this summer!