The Common Good
February 2010

Liturgy That Remembers

by Ken Sehested | February 2010

I appreciate your making space for Bryan Cones’ “Rites and Rituals” (November 2009). I know and value a number of the resources he annotated.

I appreciate your making space for Bryan Cones’ “Rites and Rituals” (November 2009). I know and value a number of the resources he annotated. Yet I was disappointed that Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s newly reprinted Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Kairos, Confession, Liturgy was not among the recommendations.

“Worship styles” surely are many and varied, typically reflecting a combination of inherited tradition, personal aesthetics, and social class. Yet reflecting on the nature of our liturgy should be more than arguments over mimicry, focusing on which of our practices best conform to, or evolve from, the most correct reading of church history. Instead of mimicking, the focus should be on memory: How do our liturgies—however high or low, orthodox or eclectic—nurture the kinds of memories that animated those scriptural and post-biblical rites, powerful rituals that keep alive the vision that another world is possible, is promised—indeed is breaking out in our midst.

As Wylie-Kellermann writes: “This liturgy signifies and celebrates the end of one world and the beginning of another. In that sense, faithful worship is inherently subversive.” If worship is to be renewed, if liturgy is to be more than ecclesiastical etiquette, it must attend to these kinds of insights.
Ken Sehested
Asheville, North Carolina
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