“We are storied creatures…”, so the theologians and philosophers tell us. It is a distinguishing mark of our race that we make meaning through the stories we tell. We stitch together narrative tapestries in order to make sense of our lives, to give them coherence, and to articulate our sense of destiny and of our place in the cosmos. To begin a sentence with “Once upon a time” is indeed no small matter.
The enduring power of Christian liturgy is precisely in that, for the liturgy tells the Story of Christ as the true account of our lives, and it is through the liturgy that we come to ever-fresh and deeper understandings of who we are and how we “fit” in the cosmos, of our nature and destiny as human beings. To begin a worship service with “Once upon a time” is likewise no small matter.
There is a case to be made that the absence of a robust liturgical expression is part of what accounts for the listlessness of North American Protestantism at the start of the 21st century. Increasingly, we find ourselves “de-storied” and lost in the universe, captive to the forces of individualism, consumerism, and nationalism… all of which inevitably lead us to meaninglessness, despair, and ultimately death. We need a better story.
It is for this reason that we can be deeply grateful for the emergence of a new breed of Christian artists and bands who are taking our nature as “storied” creatures seriously and putting forward a sort of “new liturgy” which both honors the past and points the way forward into the future – a future in which the Story of how God has come to save us in Jesus is the story that defines our lives and sets the agenda for our mission at the twilight of late modernity.
The Brilliance is one such band, and their most recent album “May You Find A Light: Advent Volume 1” is a beautiful example of the new liturgy, calling us again to make meaning by situating our lives in the deepest mystery of the universe: the Incarnation.
So go buy it. Enjoy it. Savor it. Be challenged by it. And may it enrich the season for you.
Grace and peace…