Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Most of us have read this beginning passage from Romans 12 and heard multiple sermons preached about it. Everything from dying to self, placing your life on the altar, submitting your will to God’s will, etc. We know it is something we are called to do but we often walk away wondering exactly what a “living sacrifice” and “true and proper worship” really looks like in our day to day living.
After eleven chapters in the book of Romans dealing with theology and doctrine, it is as though Paul switches gears and starts to let us know that it is now time to actually do something with this profound knowledge we now have! He says we should offer ourselves to God…it is our “true and proper worship”. That phrase is drawn from the same root as our current word liturgy.
Liturgy is the form our heartfelt worship takes on. liturgy is the fleshing out of our faith. In Philippians 2:17 when Paul speaks of the “sacrifice and service of your faith” to the church at Philipi, he uses the Greek word for liturgy- a faith that can be seen! Liturgy is a very Biblical word. It is the way we show our faith from day to day. Liturgy is the demonstration of our theology that keeps us from being dry and dead believers that merely know how to talk a good talk but not walk the walk. However, rather than making us super-spiritual, liturgy can be extremely practical and down to earth, and most evident in our very ordinary living. Our liturgy can be seen through our daily habits and the way we spend our time. The very ordinary rituals and routines of our week are what make up our liturgy of living. Over time, this liturgy shapes and affects exactly what we are worshiping in life and what the outcome of our faith really is.
Within the church there are holy days such as Lent, Passover and Pentecost in the spring followed by Advent, Christmas and Epiphany in the winter months. The days in between can appear rather mundane. No breaks from school to look forward to, no reason for parties or celebrations, no big sales at the mall or gift giving going on……..just sort of living life. If you were to look up an official Church Calendar Year you would see the holy days we celebrate take up about a third to one half of the calendar at best. the rest of the days in between are known as counting time or Ordinary days. How about that? They are known as ordinary days but not in the sense we may think of ordinary. These are days when there is no scheduled fasting or feasting. Ordinary days are the days in between the high holy days that count off the in between time. The majority of the church calendar is made up of ordinary days. This is reflected in our natural calendars as well. There are marriages and birthdays, graduation ceremonies and funerals that pass in and out to bring lift and nuance to our days yet, in general, our lives are made up of the days in between. The Mondays and Fridays that come and go are really counting off weeks that lead to months and months that culminate in a finished year. These ordinary days are where most of our living takes place. If that is the case, we must desire to cultivate a life that still worships even in the ordinary days. Holidays are full of fun and hype but we still have to be mom even when Christmas is over!!!
Our daily practices make up the true liturgy of our lives and they are exercised in the most ordinary of days.
So, what does and “ordinary day” look like for you? Whether we realize it or not we already have sacred liturgies in place- routines and habits we have grown accustomed to. They may not be very spiritual at all. Still, they are a liturgy for what we do and how we live ultimate demonstrates what we believe about life. Our current liturgies may be good and they may be bad. Coffee in the morning, a diet coke after lunch. The same path we drive to the office each day, the same TV show at night. The same blessing before meals and the same phone call to our sister. These very ordinary behaviors shape who we are and how our lives turn out. They are like compounding numbers, with layer upon layer exponentially growing a life as the years tick by. If we desire a certain result out of life, we must be strategic in the habits we need to get us there. If we say we are worshipers who desire to “seek first” the kingdom of God and His righteousness then we need some habits in place that make that desire come to pass. We cannot think our way there or wish our way there. We must act– for faith without some living form is truly dead.
This week, take a typical day and write down hour by hour how you spend your time. Try to be honest and unbiased, not recording how you meant to spend that time or what your intentions were but what you actually did each hour of the day. Now multiply those things by seven (or at least 6) and then multiply that by 52 and multiply that by the number of years you expect to live and there you have your life. What needs tweaked? What needs eliminated all together? What needs to be added?
(Next post we will look more at transforming the mundane and daily liturgies to introduce to our ordinary days. Comments? Please do!)