David in Psalm 133 communicates the joy of unity. In fact, the writer indicates that siblings who are unified express something of the beauty of God’s essence. It is fascinating to me how masterfully the picture is painted in the Psalm of the very best of human relations being reflective of God’s self-nature. With the realities of elections here in the United States upon us, we realize exactly how fractured and deeply wounded the human family can be. I would like to remind us as liturgical theologians it is our prophetic responsibility to respond to this political moment and any time of partisanship in our communities. We must always remember as C. Eric Lincoln suggests, that a viable religion is that has a working reciprocity with that culture that produces it or with which it interacts (Townes 1995). This response may take a myriad of directions, but particularly as we gather in our houses of worship during this season, our liturgy and worship must be in conversation with the cultural realities of the gathered.
It is my belief that worship takes form in tradition, and that culture provides context for all things human. (Wilkey 2014). Together culture and tradition shape and reshape each other and ultimately our worship is born out of a God concept birthed in this union. Liturgical theology is always inquiring into the meaning of the liturgy and as is the elucidation of the meaning of worship (Lathrup 1993). As a branch of theology it seeks to examine the proclamations of the church and criticize and revise the language of the church (Cone 1997). Despite the biblical call to unity somehow the church has become much like our world at large fragmented into exclusive and mutually suspicious groups and sects, but in our liturgy we have the opportunity to seek the healing and unification so desperately needed.
I encourage our entire community to remember in the design and execution of this week’s worship experiences that we are a nation that has the potential and possibility of being free, equal, and just; treating other nations with respect; and multilateral in its foreign policies (Buschendorf 2014). As we consider the ordo within our varied faith traditions may the scripture readings, the prayers, the music, and shared story call each parishioner and the community as a whole to become the place where the disparate parts of our humanity can be bound together because human beings cannot incorporate all that we are into wholeness by ourselves (Spong 2001). The Church through its liturgy, no less, becomes the animating center of humanity’s redemption. Let our liturgies this week be truly prophetic. Let them threaten culture’s power by holding up a mirror to it’s folly and showing where such folly leads.
Peace Is Possible,
Bishop Edward Donalson, III | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor
Buschendorf, Cornel West with Christa. 2014. Black Prophetic Fire. Boston: Beacon Press.
Cone, James H. 1997. Black Theology and Black Power. Maryknoll: Orbis Books.
Lathrup, Gordon W. 1993. Holy Things. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Spong, John Shelby. 2001. A New Christianity For A New World. New York: Harper Collins.
Townes, Emilie M. 1995. In A Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality As Social Witness. Nashville: Abingdon.
Wilkey, Gláucia Vasconcelos, ed. 2014. Worship and Culture: Foreign Country or Homeland. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.