Because my congregation has amnesia about its historical past, to use the word liturgy elicits only blank looks. We do, however, know what it is.

We know that Liturgy follows a dependable form that moves. I’ve taken the time to describe it: We come into God’s presence, we prepare ourselves to hear God’s word, we hear God’s word, we respond to God’s word, and we go out into the world to serve God. We know that with certain divergence (in terms of response) this is how worship always flows. It is a movement, like faithfulness is a movement. You travel with this behavior, you move and where you end up is not where you began.

We have also taken the time to remind ourselves that this experience we have is not unique to ourselves. It is ancient. Maybe the clearest description of this experience comes from Isaiah 6; there Isaiah finds himself in the throne room, in the presence of God and he is moved along, finally exclaiming, “send me!”

I know that some folks say they don’t have an ‘order of worship.’ Still, I suspect that if you watch for long enough you will find there is a fairly dependable movement. When I was in Costa Rica, more than a twenty five years ago, I studied the transition from Orthodoxy to Pentecostalism. I noticed that these pentecostal churches wanted to claim a movement of the Spirit and no prescribed liturgy. I noticed, however, that there was a dependable procession. After some initial singing (that did go on for unpredictable lengths of time), there was prayer, then scripture reading that was closely imbedded in preaching. When I first saw the tamborines on the back of the pew’s I knew I would need guidance to get through the service. Yet, after a while I learned my way.

I suppose that everyone has their own ‘taste’ in such matters; and, I think that there is one common denominator. If the various elements fit together and help the movement through the ‘liturgy,’ the potential for a meaningful experience is increased.


Now my colleagues over @liturgicalnerds read this they might remind me that we do not worship to have a ‘meaningful experience’ but to glorify God. Yeah, I know. Sure, I even agree. See they asked the question, What makes for quality, consistent liturgy? I responded: “form, as in historical; unity, as in lectionary based; vibrant, as in language/music; participatory, as in congregation.” Don’t forget, explain in 140 characters or less via Twitter.

Colleen Caroll wrote “The New Faithful,” nine years ago, after a year of watching young folks come to Orthodox church worship. Even though Orthodoxy may not be the largest segment of the Christian world, it cannot be denied that there are a large group young adults who are rejecting praise worship for the traditional forms.

Some people describe what the Gen X and Millenials are seeking as liturgy with diverse music. One Boomer asked a 20 something why there weren’t any people her age at the ‘contemporary’ service last night. She replied, my friends and I don’t like it. “We like liturgy, silence, and mystery.” Some people are ‘re-naming’ contemporary worship as boomer-worship.

A Florida pastor, Chuck De Groat, (who blogs at The New Exodus) elsewhere writes:

My Gen. X peers are flocking to the .High Church. . liturgical Reformed, Episcopal, Catholic and Orthodox churches. In a recent email, a 30 year old friend wrote, .I.m tired of this .me and-my-sweet-Jesus. cheesiness. whatever happened to reflection, contemplation, prayer! The reaction says less, I think,  about their preference for liturgical High-Church style and more about a sense of authentic meeting with God.

I don’t know exactly what is going on but stood amazed this Sunday when a front row full of teenagers stood and ‘crossed’ themselves when I began worship saying, “We worship, as we live, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  I am continually surprised that they seem hungry for these ancient practices.

What DeGroat seems to be describing when he writes is a certain spiritual sincerity, a communal commitment that moves beyond the religious drive that  so many of us Boomers have chased after. They seem to get what was missed on us. That Worship, like faith, is not a head experience. It involves your whole self. And, to be authentic, it means you do something, not just think something.