Lex Orandi is a worshiping community that gathers on Sunday evenings at Christ Church Cranbrook for a meal and worship. The experience is sometimes described as "Ancient Future Worship."
Last Sunday evening, Bishop Gibbs and Canon Gettel were with us at Lex Orandi to begin a conversation about the next steps for this worshiping community as their founding spiritual leader, The Rev. Jim Hamilton, goes to another place of ministry in the Diocese of Maryland. It was a very good beginning, with a wonderful openness and lots of listening. The conversation will continue in the coming weeks.
After sharing some of his own spiritual journey with us, one member of the Lex Orandi community said, “Worshiping with this community helps me live my life better.” That was one of the most important things expressed during the conversation. It might be the effect any Christian community should hope to have on the lives of those who worship with them. Reflected in what this pilgrim said is not only the richness and wonder of the liturgy but also evidence of an abundance of hospitality where worshipers are able to be vulnerable and feel at home. They don’t have to “fit in” to feel that they belong because they are invited to be themselves and experience the unconditional love of Christ.
I was reminded of some words from the Preface to Liturgy for Living, written by Charles Price and Louis Weil in 1979 at the time of the publication of what was then the “new” Book of Common Prayer:
The worship of the Christian community, properly understood and done, leads worshipers to act out in their lives the love of God, which is at the heart of our worship. Worship also provides the power and the sustenance, which makes this style of living possible. This Christian style of living, moreover, drives those who are committed to it back to the worship of God, to find forgiveness and strength...When this interdependent relationship is understood, the power of worship is illuminated and the power to live increased.
That is the meaning behind the name of this worshiping community. The Latin phrase Lex orandi, lex credendi, loosely translated, means "the law of praying is the law of believing.” It is an ancient Christian principle about the relationship between worship and belief. An early version of the maxim is found in the writings of Prosper of Aquitaine (c. 390 – c. 455), a Christian writer and disciple of Saint Augustine of Hippo. He wrote, “Let us consider the sacraments of priestly prayers, which having been handed down by the apostles are celebrated uniformly throughout the whole world and in every catholic Church so that the law of praying might establish the law of believing." * The principle guided Thomas Cranmer as he prepared the first Book of Common Prayer and it has guided those entrusted with subsequent revisions.
The love of God at the heart of Christian worship leads worshipers to act out the love of God in their lives. Worship teaches us to live. That’s why the discipline of weekly corporate worship is so necessary for the Christian journey. Our prayers shape our beliefs and our beliefs shape our lives. During the Epiphany season, I often begin the blessing of the congregation with these words from The Book of Occasional Services: "May Christ, the Son of God, be manifest in you, that your lives may be a light to the world."
I hope every person who enters a Christian house of worship and participates in worship with a community gathered there will be able to say, “Worshiping with this community helps me live my life better.” And we can all say an enthusiastic, "AMEN!"
I’ll see you in Church!
* Patrologia Latina [Latin Patristic] 51, pp. 209–10