Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

This is a re-post of an entry from February, 2007.

As I have my face to the ground during this Lenten service, the thought crosses my mind, just as you can vaguely hear the priest’s footsteps as he carries the holy gifts: “how beautiful are the feet of him who brings Good News.”
At my first Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, at St. Peter the Aleut, ten years ago this year, I wondered, "how long can I last without peeking?" It's probably only 30 seconds or something, but it seems like a long time. As we were talking about it last week, Krista admitted she always used to peak. Very cute. Even this reminds me that the Apostles were those who had "seen with their eyes." (1 John 1.1) As the Lord said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed" (John 20.29).
It is somehow in the singing of the Psalms of Ascent at the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts that I remember who I am. Each year reminds me that I am a member of the sojourning people of God, at search for our Promised Land in God. I grew to love these Psalms first through Eugene Peterson's fine book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
I don’t know if it is the same melody in all places, but it is that melody which strangely welcomes me to the Lenten pilgrimage in earnest. We are “going up” in the same way Israel's pilgrims ascended up to Jerusalem for the great festivals of salvation. But, even more, “God is the Lord and has revealed Himself.” We are members of his very Body. The fact that our liturgical journey in this particular Liturgy brings us up to partake of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ reveals that He is the ‘end’ of all our searching.


Blogger Troy said...

Matthew and Krista,

A couple of comments.

I remember, as a kid especially, wanting to peak. “What are they doing?”
As an adult, I find it hard to look. Can beauty be too beautiful? I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t.

Too many modern churches don’t have a series of steps and levels leading up their altar and tabernacle, which I suppose isn’t really an issue for new Orthodox churches/buildings. It’s a terrible shame for modern Catholic churches. So much imagery is lost. (The numbering may be different)

Psalm 24
Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord?

Psalm 121
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills: O whence cometh my help?
My help cometh even from the Lord, who hath made the heavens and the earth.

And my personal favourite. Psalm 43.
I will go unto to the altar of God, even the God of my joy and gladness.


PS – I very much enjoy your posts.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Thanks Troy : )

9:22 AM  

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