This book had me at hello, which for a book was the forward by Andy Crouch. In the foreword of Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren, Crouch said, “It is not just that the secular is shot through with the sacred. Worship itself is made up of ordinary stuff. We use plain words. We are baptized in plain water. We consume plain bread and wine. And it is all lifted up by plain people. Yet all of this is far from ordinary. Our bodies, our pleasures, our fears, our fatigue, our friendships, our fights—these are in fact the stuff of our formation and transformation into the frail but infinitely dignified creatures we were meant to be and shall become. Our moments of exaltation and our stifled yawns—somehow they go together, part of the whole life we are meant to offer to God day by day.”
Yes. Just this.
Since this book will follow one day, it is no surprise that Warren starts off by discussing how she wakes up. She wakes slowly. I do not, I have an “on/off” switch. I very rarely lay in bed. What’s the point? As Anna said in Frozen, “The sky is awake, so I am awake, I have to go out and play!” When I wake up, I’m awake and ready to go. How about you? Do you wake up slowly? Or do you have an “on/off” switch also? (And don’t hate me, I only set an alarm a couple of times a year.)
This can’t be the first time I’ve heard that Jesus was declared “beloved” by God before he was sent out. But the sentiment of being beloved stood out to me. “Jesus is sent out first with a declaration of the Father’s love.” What a difference it would make if we all lived from a place of deep belovedness.
Later in the chapter she Warren wrote, “Before we begin the liturgies of our day—the cooking, sitting in traffic, emailing, accomplishing, working, resting—we begin beloved.”
As a small daily practice for this chapter, this week every morning I am trying to have my first thought of the day be that of belovedness. In full disclosure, I’ve done it for two days now. Yesterday was a FULL ON DAY. You know the kind. I had to be up early and my morning was spent at a fundraising breakfast for a local ministry. I’m the president of the board and we have been working on this event since June. It was the kind of day that it would be easy to measure what I had accomplished. I rolled out of bed and thought, “Amy, you are God’s beloved.”
The sense of belovedness sent me off to the event framed in a different light. I am God’s beloved regardless of how “successful” the breakfast would be. I am beloved.
I wrote the first part of this post yesterday afternoon and then today I slept in. You know when you wake up and something feels just a little off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. It was an hour later than it usually is when I wake up. I will be honest that my first thought was, “What?! I’ve overslept.” Followed by, “Amy, obviously you needed the sleep.” And a few seconds later, “Because you are beloved.”
Belovedness didn’t only reframe me on a rich and full day where I can measure what I’ve done—sometimes I confuse “belovedness” with “able to see the good I have accomplished. Belovedness also speaks into those private moments when the enemy of our soul wants us to think, “You have already blown it before you even started.” (And how is getting an extra hour of sleep, “blowing it?” This lesson of belovedness may seem simple and normally I think of myself as a very beloved person. Yet in two days of this small practice, much has been uncovered!
Have you tried for your first thought of the day to be, “I am beloved”? What did you notice? If you haven’t tried it, do and then share with us your experience.
Since Warren mentions baptism, I thought of a post I shared recently on Instagram with this photo:
Today I’m thinking of the paradox of the expansive particular in the Kingdom of God.
Standing in beautiful churches in Estonia, Russia, Helsinki, and Finland, my spirit stirred with how broad and deep and old and new God’s work in our world is.
Standing in a fairly common church today (in a building I don’t believe will stand the test of time), I watched my nieces Katy, Anna, and Chloe be baptized. Each publicly declaring her belief in Jesus and desire to follow Him. Three little lambs who are precious in his sight. Tears, of course. Thoughts of their grandparents and my grandparents and our particular family. Love of Jesus for caring about individuals and His bride throughout history and geography.
Expansive particular. This is the beauty of a life of faith and fun! [I took out a line about American football, thus the ‘fun’ reference.]
I’ll end today with another line I loved in this chapter, the final one: “If I am to spend my whole life being transformed by the good news of Jesus, I must learn how grand, sweeping truths—doctrine, theology, ecclesiology, Christology–rub against the texture of an average day. How I spend this ordinary day in Christ is how I will spend my Christian life.”
Amen. See you in the comments as we discuss waking up, baptism, and belovedness.
P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:
October 16: Chapters 2-3, October 23: Chapter 4, October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11