Friday, July 10, 2020

The Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren

Do your daily small tasks really matter in the whole scheme of things? In Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Warren walks us through the rhythms of a typical day and highlights lessons that can be learned from each simple practice.

Christians are taught to look for a radical life, a life of conspicuous sacrifice and service - a life that seems obviously set apart for something more than the mundane and unimportant... We tend to want a Christian life with all the dull bits cut out. Yet God made us to spend our days in rest, work, and play, taking care of our bodies, our families, our neighborhoods, our homes. What if all these boring parts matter to God? What if days passed in ways that feel small and insignificant to us are weighty with meaning and part of the abundant life that God has for us?

She emphasizes that it is in the dailiness of the Christian faith - the making of the bed, the doing of the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading of the Bible, the quiet, the small - that God's transformation takes root and grows. Evangelicals tend to focus on a "radical Christianity" full of excitement, passion and risk. Quoting Eugene Peterson, she writes, There is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for the long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

In addition to a radical faith, we American Christians love a productive faith. The busier we are in God's work, the more spiritual we feel. But Tish gently reminds us that if we realize that ALL we do is for God's glory (even the mundane), it helps us to resist the idolatry of work and accomplishment. She reiterates this in her chapter on rest where she writes that sleep reminds us that ultimately it is God who does the work. When we lie down at the end of the day, it is a confession of our limits and a recognition of the holiness of rest and the blessedness of unproductivity. As we stop all our "doing," we joyfully acknowledge God's watchcare over our lives.

This is not a book that will bowl you over, but it is a perfect book to read during lockdown. I, as a missionary, appreciated this careful analysis of what a life of faithfulness looks like, especially when opportunities for [frantic] Christian service have been curtailed.


1 comment:

Barbara Harper said...

I already agree with these views, so it may be redundant for me to read the book. Then again, the book may reinforce the beliefs. We've been in super-busy churches, and most recently have been in a very small one with very little in the way of organized ministry outside of Sunday services. It's been so restful, plus has freed up time to minister in other ways. I agree most ministry falls within our everyday lives.