Monday of Holy Week reflection
This week is Holy Week. It’s a week where we get the opportunity to share in the last days of Christ and ultimately celebrate the resurrection. All week long we’ll be sharing in the rhythms of Jesus Christ. This week we invite you to center your lives around the fact that Jesus doesn’t see us as useful. Jesus doesn’t see us as a good idea. Center yourselves around the idea that we are so beloved that Jesus gives us life and takes our death.
This week we'll offer you readings, music and guided centering prayers from the Liturgists series. You can check out the entire series here
Come and take part. We invite you to sit at the feet of Jesus Christ.
The great mystics, sages and theologians of history have always espoused that all of life is sacred. While the power-hungry and money-lovers within religious power systems may find incentive to parse life into clear-cut categories like “sacred” and “secular,” we, the Liturgists, firmly reject this sort of categorization, insofar as it leads to a destructive domestication or hierarchal dissolution of the exquisite oneness and wonder of existence. We reject the notion that singing about “God”, for instance, is somehow more inherently “sacred" or “spiritual" than singing about romance, money, or any other aspect of human life.
Still, there is something to be said for the specifically termed “religious,” “sacred,” or “liturgical” practices that human beings have consistently experimented with and bonded themselves to over millennia for the purpose of more fully experiencing and making sense of the incomprehensibility of our existence. “Spiritual" disciplines (practices like silence, meditation, prayer, fasting, feasting, alms-giving, Eucharist, study, corporate worship…etc) have been found to be invaluable for countless people in enriching life to be more fully enjoyed and experienced. The use of the word 'spiritual' here is not meant to imply that only certain parts of life are spiritual. On the contrary, a healthy practiced spiritual discipline leads one to seeing the spirituality and sacredness within the mundane. In spiritual disciplines or sacrament, mere silence becomes the voice of God, and a dry piece of bread becomes the very Body of Christ.
It is in this line of thinking that the Liturgists begin our work.
There have been a long line of musical composers through history who have composed musical works intended for specifically “sacred” or “religious” purposes. From the plain-song and Gregorian chant of the medieval times to the grand masses composed by the master composers of the Renaissance and Baroque periods to the hymns written in the centuries following the Protestant Reformation, there has been music written for the specific purpose of church ritual and worship.
While the art form of composition for the specific function of worship and ritual has largely fallen out of fashion in mainstream Western Culture for the last couple of centuries, the Liturgists exist to explore new artistic possibilities within liturgical space.
There is a challenge to this since the most popular and common music in our day and age generally falls into a modernized version of the ancient Greek ideal of self-expression. This is, of course, a valid and potentially beautiful function of art. Still, there are billions of people in the world that gather weekly for the purpose of religious ritual and worship. Every Sunday, millions of people across the globe sing songs together for the purpose of prayer, spiritual discipline and encountering the Divine.
Unfortunately, it is arguable that much of the artistic material incorporated into these gatherings is not thoughtfully created or executed. Rather, like corporate jingles, hotel room paintings, Disney cartoon songs or any number of musical expressions designed primarily to carry a “message”, there is often a temptation to resort to what is safely vanilla and imitative of what has already been successful in popular culture. We, the Liturgists, seek to overcome this temptation and become a community of progressive musical composers, poets, preachers, filmmakers and other artists who work together to create 'good' (thoughtful, creative, hopeful and evocative) liturgical work.
These four pillars, thoughtfulness, creativity, hopefulness and evocativeness, are what shall guide us as we create liturgical art and space.