One of the challenges of the Christian life is to see the integral nature of everything we do, say, and experience. In the U.S. there is a tendency to maintain a “rugged individualism” —“my way, my God, my worship, my life.” But is that consistent with the Biblical picture of discipleship?
Dr. John W. Kleinig offers a more wholesome, Biblical view of these separated existences. In his book Grace upon Grace (CPH, 2008) he challenges much of what passes for spirituality today. The key is his section on “Liturgical Spirituality.” His first paragraph:
There are two domains that provide the context for the spirituality of God’s people. One is the public domain of the congregation that gathers for participation in the Divine Service. The other is the private domain of the faithful who engage in their daily devotions in their homes and go about their daily work. These two domains complement and enrich each other. Thus the practice of our spirituality links our daily routine with the sacrament of Baptism. Our spiritual self-scrutiny in our devotions prepares us for the rite of public Confession and Absolution in the Divine Service. Our personal reading of God’s Word and our meditation on it interacts with the public reading and exposition of the Scriptures. Our personal faith in Christ is included in the common confession of faith by the whole Church in the liturgy. The Prayer of the Church inspires our personal petitions and intercessions. Our family meals are joined with the Lord’s Supper by the saying of grace. The interaction between these two domains produces a healthy liturgical spirituality. The more they intersect and interact, the richer our spiritual growth and the deeper our spiritual maturity. (Grace upon Grace, pp. 68-69)
Profound words that get to the heart of what encompasses our Christian life and discipleship. Liturgy is not some “ritual to endure from past generations.” Liturgy invites us to participate in God’s life through Word and Sacrament—in the Church publicly with others, and in the home individually.
There is no disconnect between the public and private domains. Each is vital to our spirituality, each is essential to our maturing in the faith. If something is dead in the liturgy, then there must be something dead in my private domain too. The solution is God’s work in us through Word and Sacrament, living daily in light of Baptism, living in the strength, comfort, and hope of His Word, and receiving regularly the benefits of the Lord’s Supper.
Thank God that he does work in and through both domains. May we not be so focused on the private that we church shop to find something that only reinforces our private view. We need the perspective of the Church, in history, and in the world today. What a difference that makes—privately and publicly!