The tree is packed away and the last of the Christmas goodies is nothing but extra pounds on the scale. Perhaps, like me, you feel a bit of a post-holiday letdown. Unbound by the constraints of Advent and Christmas, our church returns to its previous series. All the lights come down from the neighborhood trees. We slug back to our offices in the cold and the outer world that was once shot through with Christmas magic now seems quite ordinary. To bring a sense of “O Holy Night” into Monday night, I suggest the beautiful collection of everyday liturgies, Every Moment Holy, by Douglas McKelvey.
Growing up Baptist, what we lacked in organized liturgy, we more than made up for with enthusiasm. My church taught me that Christianity was not so much a religion as it was a relationship with God. This relationship was based on grace and freedom. I will forever be thankful for that spiritual foundation that taught me to value inner truth over outer trappings, emotional honesty over intellectual posturing.
As I got older, however, I longed not only for greater intellectual integrity in my faith, which deep Bible study and learning could easily fill, but also for those outer signs of faith that I had long disregarded. I needed creeds and responsive readings, candles and incense and colorful banners, the sound of a hundred chanting voices, the creak of of two hundred kneeling knees. I needed traditional Christian liturgy to remind me of truth when I could not maintain the emotional high on my own.
But for reasons somewhat beyond my control, I’ve remained in Baptist churches, so I’ve filled that liturgical gap on my own in my own devotional time. Therefore, Advent and Christmas are exciting seasons for me because they seem to be the only times in the year that the rest of the world lines up with the church calendar. Every star, every light, every tree becomes a sign — an outer trapping revealing an inner truth. I can even find King Cakes for Epiphany at my local grocery store. Hiding in a cake — a King! Hiding in the mundane — the Divine!
Every Moment Holy helps us to see the Divine hiding in every mundane task. It contains several prayers for individuals, families, or other groups that can elevate ordinary moments into sacred ones. It contains some expected entries, such as dinner prayers for every night of the week and liturgies for big events, like births, deaths, and celebrations. But it also includes entries for laundering, gardening, and bee-keeping. The book has a prayer for someone stuck in traffic and for someone struggling with the temptation of making a frivolous purchase. It offers prayers for both mental and manual labor and it contains not one, but two prayers for changing diapers.
Accompanying the liturgies are frame-worthy illustrations by Ned Bustard. My favorite prayer in the book, “For the Ritual of Morning Coffee,” connects the reviving powers of caffeine with the resurrection, and features the illustration of a phoenix rising from a coffee cup. You might think that sounds sacrilegious, but it’s not. Instead, the prayer and picture together remind me of God’s grace to me in His gift of coffee, and his mercies, new every morning. (Listen to the prayer, below).
As you move into 2018 and put Christmas behind you, I urge you not to put away your sense of wonder. Divine revelations don’t always sing with the fanfare of angels. In Every Moment Holy, they speak in the still, small voice of an ordinary day.
Buy Every Moment Holy here.