Living liturgy

This week we asked our bloggers to share a liturgy they’ve crafted.

Is it possible to just write liturgy for a living? I mean, I know that almost all pastors write liturgy as a part of their living, that’s cool, but would someone employ me and give me benefits and a pension to only write liturgy. I would do that job. I love writing liturgy because the people of God actually use your words when they speak and hear God. That’s a holy niche to fill, to be the one stringing words together with which other people will speak to the divine. It conjures up for me a vision of an ink-stained monk up in a dim garret somewhere scratching away with a quill on scraped vellum. I could get used to a dismal garret, I think, if it had a window in it.

But of course, locking yourself away in an attic is the worst way to write Spirit-filled language for people. You can’t hear the sound of their voices and the rhythm of their lives on the street if you’re shut up in your church. You have to go out and listen for the syncopation of the Spirit in the lives of your people in order to write liturgy for them. That’s where this prayer came from. It’s a thanksgiving prayer for communion that I wrote for service when my wife and I were ordained. The seed of it came from several conversations with people about the intersection of faith and science. Through those conversations, I realized that I believe that faith and science can’t help but intersect all the time, which isn’t always what others think. Many on the sciencey side and on the faithy side (and why do there have to be sides?) don’t want faith or science to muddle each other. So I wrote the following to prayerfully blend what I think ought be mixed up in the strange science of God’s Table.

Great God of Heaven and Earth and whatever else there is…
We thank you for the strange science of your table
The beautiful chemistry of your people
And the physics of your grace.

We thank you for the first moments of creation…
For the first atoms of hydrogen and helium bursting forth from chaos. Your glory was revealed to a brand new universe in that instance. It must have been beautiful. Atoms bonding to atoms for the first time, forming new molecules that we’re still trying to figure out. Fusing and fusing, those basic elements came together to exist us and everything we know… and don’t now. Thank you God, for your creation continuing to take shape.

We thank you for the moment when Christ came to us…
When all that makes you God mixed with all that makes us human: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and calcium… forming a human. Your son among us. These simple atoms, which bound together in intricate systems form our bodies, these few elements made up Christ’s body too and conquered death. We thank you for your son, Immanuel, a human sack of molecules like us, for his guidance and teachings, his resurrection and grace.

We thank you for fermentation, God, the process of things breaking down…
Once just flour and water, yeast cells broke things down to make this loaf of bread rise. God, you even give bacteria a holy job. They broke down the sugar from the grapes to make the wine that Jesus poured out for his disciples. How beautiful that the table of your people, God, is set with the sum of a thousand microscopic breakdowns? Help us to remember this when we break down, that you love us in our breakdowns… that breakdowns are welcome at this table. We are all welcome in the chemistry of your people gathered at this table in your name.

From Creation to Fermentation, God, you lead us to this table again and again. Bond us together like the strongest molecule as we pray together the prayer Christ taught us

Our Father…


Feel free to use this prayer at your table and see what great conversations it will spark in your community.

Alexi WirthALEX WIRTH is an ordained teaching elder doing building maintenance and social justice work at Lake View Presbyterian Church in Chicago. He buys vinyl albums more than mp3s, tries to ride his bike more than drive a car, make/bake things more than buy them, and generally stick to a punk rock, do-it-yourself mindset like Jesus did.