Immigrants and Strangers

As James K.A. Smith would say in his book, Desiring the Kingdom, everything calls for allegiance. All of life has liturgies all around. Which liturgy will call out for our allegiance and we will respond?

We are in the thick of political season in the U.S. Let’s face it, as long as there is a media and as long as there are lobbyists and politicians, we are always in the thick of political season. It’s the only way to fill up a 24 hour news cycle.

And in this season we are once again hearing the calls of allegiance to one party or the other. Certainly on the extremes are those who say voting for one party is actually voting against God. (This is on the right AND the left.)

Political parties call for allegiances. Every election cycle the fate our nation hangs precariously in the balance and if we don’t vote correctly (insert your party beliefs here), America will blow up. (And so it has gone for over 250 years.)

Christians in America play this game. We play and get played. For all the frothing about evangelicals being in the back pockets of Republicans, there is simply the same to be said in the other direction as well. On the extreme left or right we really act like the government is our own little theocracy. We want to the government (which is secular) to act like the Kingdom of God. On both extremes, if one is willing to admit it, that would equate the president as pope or bishop. Since neither extreme is willing to admit that, we cloak it in more “righteous” terms.

This is not some plea to NOT be involved in voting or your duty as a citizen. It IS a plea, as believers, for us to continually evaluate our allegiances. We need to be reminded more than ever that our citizenship is in a different place. As such, we need to pick up the signals from the Kingdom we should be serving.

11 Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives. (1 Pet. 2:11, CEB)

The liturgy of political games is a strong liturgy. The liturgy of consumerism and materialism is a strong liturgy. We have strong liturgies all around us.

Which liturgy will win your allegiance?

The Liturgies of Our Lives

I am currently working my way through James K.A. Smith’s book, Desiring the Kingdom. Great writer!

His analysis is that we all participate in liturgy. Every one of us. Saint, sinner. Believer, unbeliever. We have our liturgies and they form us.

His analysis is very similar to that of Dallas Willard, who would say that everyone gets an education. It’s just better if we choose what type of education we get.

Smith’s style is more lively. His basic premise is we are not thinking machines. We are human beings. We are passionate. We feel. He gives a short paragraph on how we went wrong following Descartes, who said, “I think, therefore I am.” He said Descartes shut himself off so he could only think, then says parenthetically, “Think about the course of history if he just would have gone out on a date.” (Smith is much more engaging… though Dallas Willard continues to be a great hero of mine.)

Cultural liturgies are all around us. His description of our liturgy of the mall is fantastic.

His point is this: the Church must be intentional in its liturgy. It has to counter the mis-information of the cultural liturgies all around us. The Church helps to direct the passions of the heart. Liturgies are key in forming great habits and practices.

Some readers will trip over the word “liturgy,” so I will leave it intentionally undefined at this moment just to add to that frustration. We need to trip over some things from time to time and then learn to unlearn the bad definitions we have put up with for far too long.

If you think you’re not “liturgical,” you are wrong.