Our Liturgy Shapes Our Desires

We are not primarily thinking beings, we are primarily desiring people. In a previous post, we said that we become what we worship either for ruin or restoration (Psalm 135:15-18).

If we become what we worship, then how do our hearts get reshaped to worship the Lord Jesus? How do we reshape our desires?

In his provocative book, You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith suggests that our habits shape our desires.

Parents have lived this out, though they might not have noticed it. When you change the diapers of your children, or go through the daily routine of making meals, your affections for your children grow. Our bodies follow our hearts, that is true. Jesus says that out of the heart, the mouth speaks.

But it is also true that our bodily habits begin to shape our affections. Our desires are shaped by our liturgies.

What we mean by liturgy is “pattern.” I have a morning liturgy — check email (I’ll admit, it’s not the best way to start the day), drink coffee, and then read my bible. That is my morning pattern.

We have liturgies around seasons — Christmas has its liturgies, summer is for vacations, back to school shopping is a liturgy, etc. These are established patterns of living.

And if you reflect just a little, you will find that these liturgies shape your affections … your desires. There is always a little excitement and hope that comes with the liturgy of putting out your Christmas decorations. It’s strange, isn’t it, that the emotion of hope would arise from the act of pulling boxes of Christmas decorations out of the attic?

Every worship service has a liturgy. No matter what church you go to, there is an established pattern. It may be as simple as a welcome, three songs, sermon, and then a closing song. But it’s the same liturgy every week.

Our liturgy (pattern) has a few more elements than that — it is a little more robust. But we are following an ancient pattern of covenant renewal — we are rehearsing the gospel each week.

And our rehearsal of redemption — the pattern of renewal — is a conversation between God and us.

  1. God calls us into his presence.
  2. We respond with confession and repentance.
  3. He responds to our sin with an assurance of pardon in Christ.
  4. We hear God speak to us through his Word.
  5. We fellowship with Christ at his table.
  6. He sends us out with his blessing.

Interspersed throughout all of this is song (we will examine singing in a separate post).

We become what we worship either for ruin or redemption. God is descending to be with his people, and he is shaping us with his Word.

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