10 August 2011

Musings on Liturgy: Seeking Him

Call: Who is it that you seek?
Response: We seek the Lord our God.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your heart?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your soul?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your mind?
Response: Amen. Lord, have mercy.
Call: Do you seek Him with all your strength?
Response: Amen. Christ, have mercy. 

I first came to this part of the liturgy with responses very similar to the ones I had at the last part: Do I believe this? Can I really speak these words with any sort of honesty? Is my heart so focused on one thing that He is all I seek?

Then, I noticed the response. "Amen," means (loosely translated) "Let it be." Not in the Beatles sense, though sometimes I like to think of it that way when I'm praying about things I need to let go of. No, it means "Let it be," in the sense of, "May this be true. May reality match the words I've just spoken." And in that sense, I can pray these words all day long.

But that's just the first part. The second, "Lord, have mercy . . . Christ, have mercy," is the ages-old kyrie. Mercy, mercy, we all need mercy. Every minute of every day, we only live because mercy falls from heaven. It's no different when the acts that need mercy are all of the times, each day, when I seek something other than Him with some part of my being. 

And so the caller asks questions that very few people, if anyone, can truly say "Yes," to. But we can all say, "May that be true of me, and may the Lord have mercy on me when it is not." 

There's an image that often comes to mind when I speak these words. There's a door (and in case you have a vivid imagination like I do, it's to a cave that looks something like Obi Wan's from Star Wars), and I'm standing outside of it. I start the liturgy in God's name, announcing, even if only to myself, my intentions to enter that place and find Jesus. Then I speak the "One Thing" words, which are my way of knocking, of announcing my presence to those who guard the door. 

When someone answers the door, they welcome me into a sparse stone vestibule and begin to question. "Who do you seek?" they ask, and I tell them. The questions, while I suppose they would weed out those who had truly come to the wrong place, are more like serious reminders of where I am and what I am doing there. "Are you here," they ask, "because you seek God, or are you looking for shelter from the rain?" Both might be valid reasons to come in, but they will each require different things from me as I journey on. 

In some ways, I suppose they are a screening process. Am I a pilgrim, looking for the Risen One, a Seeker not sure of Him for whom I search, or am I an Outsider, welcome but not yet understanding everything that goes on here? As I answer, I feel the welcome come. I'm not a Saint, not one who can say that I seek Him as I ought, but I am one who knows how He should be sought. 

Some days, that's the best I can do - I can continue to seek, and to seek how to seek. When I pray these words each morning, that's what I pledge to do.


Brian Miller said...

there is beauty in the seeking...and the good news is you dont have to have all the answers...and i dont think anyone that thinks they have them all is on the riht path anyway...

emily wierenga said...

so powerful, friend. and i join you in the seeking... xo

terri said...

it's strange to hear some of my own thoughts coming from you. i read from the same devotional (not as consistently as i would like) and our train of thought and responses seem to have gone down similar paths. amen, lord have mercy.

terri said...

i can't wait to hear what your thoughts are on the "Christ, as a light illumine and guide me" prayer. It's my favorite.

Debbie said...

Found your site through Imperfect Prose. Very much like it. Chewing on it, will be back. Thanks.