G. K. Chesterton Challenges the Critique that Liturgy is Deadening

Zac HicksUncategorized2 Comments

Does repetition inherently lead to boredom? Robbie Castleman asked that question in her fabulous book, Story-Shaped Worship, and then answered it from the pen of G. K. Chesterton:

Now, to put the matter [the idea that repetition inherently leads to boredom] in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. 

They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.

Is it possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.*

So here’s to all those worship planners out there dog set on doing the same thing, week in and week out. Granted, we can creatively, freshly, and innovatively express “the same thing,” or we can do it with a lifeless roboticism. 

But we can rest assured that when our liturgies–our worship service structures–are shaped like the Gospel, the Holy Spirit will be rising up within us, after it’s over, to scream, “Do it again, Daddy!”

*G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York: Doubleday, 1959), 60; quoted in Robbie Castleman, Story-Shaped Worship: Following Patterns from the Bible and History (Downers Grove: IVP, 2013), 33-34.

2 Comments on “G. K. Chesterton Challenges the Critique that Liturgy is Deadening”

  1. Okay Zac, this proves that it's time to widen your G.K. reading. So much more deliciousness like this in his writing. I'm happy to provide suggestions. 😉

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