“The liturgy is a ‘hearts and minds’ strategy, a pedagogy that trains us as disciples precisely by putting our bodies through a regimen of repeated practices that get hold of our heart and ‘aim’ our love toward the kingdom of God.”
I wish that I had written that. I am reading a fascinating book by James K. A. Smith called Desiring the Kingdom, and this week I want to give you a couple snippets of his theory along with some of the familiar words to the first three songs we will sing. This familiarity and participation is an important part of our formation. Here is some more from the same paragraph:
“Before we articulate a worldview, we worship. Before we put into words the lineaments of an ontology or an epistemology, we pray for God’s healing and illumination. Before we theorize the nature of God, we sing his praises. Before we express moral principles, we receive forgiveness. Before we codify the doctrine of Christ’s two natures, we receive the body of Christ in the Eucharist. Before we think, we pray. That’s the kind of animals we are, first and foremost: loving, desiring, affective, liturgical animals who, for the most part, don’t inhabit the world as thinkers or cognitive machines…My contention is that given the sorts of animals we are, we pray before we believe, we worship before we know – or rather, we worship in order to know.”
Anglicans generally believe that “what the church prays is what the church believes.” Below are some excerpts from prayers we will be singing this Sunday. Please take time to digest the pieces so that you can both savor the flavor and not choke:
Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount! Oh, fix me on it, mount of Thy redeeming love
O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light
Jesus, I come
Out of my sickness into Thy health
Out of my wanting and into Thy wealth
Out of my sin and into Thyself
Jesus, I come to Thee
Out of the fear and dread of the tomb
Into the joy and light of Thy home
Jesus, I Come
Out of the depths of ruin untold
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus I come to Thee
(This glory from heaven came to earth)
Light of the world, you stepped down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You
And I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
So here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re all together lovely
Altogether wonderful to me.
If you would like to prepare more for our time of corporate worship, the Scriptures and music for this Sunday can be found at restorationmusic.wordpress.com.
Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.