Dislocated Liturgy

In her new book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren Winner has a section on “dislocated exegesis.” That’s the practice of reading a familiar Bible passage in an unfamiliar context, say, in front of an immigration detention facility.

I thought of that when I read this post from my fellow seminarians at Nashotah House in Wisconsin. It seems a bunch of them put on cassocks, left behind the confines of their seminary, and went and chanted the Great Litany and Compline.

My friend Nathaniel, who wrote that post, calls it one of the most profound liturgical moments of his seminary training:

I was deeply impacted by the juxtaposition of the rhythm of liturgy with the pulse of the city.  Indeed, we might call it a “secular liturgy.”  The ebb and flow of quotidian humanity passed before us: buying and selling, eating dinner, parking, going from point A to point B and back again, waiting for a rendezvous, panhandling.  I was overwhelmed with the sense of how God delights in his creation, and how he yearns to bless, and to transform, and to open all of these to being Eucharistic.  He longs for these liturgies to be transparent to his work and to his love in the world; to turn all of these banal experiences into sacrifices of thanksgiving through union with Christ.

Slowing down, being still and silent in that place, and listening to the Spirit, I suddenly had a sense of the presence and the nearness of God.  I have never experienced this in a city before.  I have always experienced cities as being somewhat cold and godless, full of noise and distraction.  And yet, standing in silence, hearing all the noises of the traffic, and distant conversations, and doors opening and closing, I experienced a beautiful cacophony that is no different than anywhere else where human hearts beat, and that God is no further there than in the monastery secluded in the deepest wood or emptiest desert hermitage.

Liturgy is one of the great strengths of the Anglican tradition. How else could this idea be adapted in your context?

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