I see this testimony time and again. It is my own story, too. I continue to meet young people, attracted to the ancient faith that their parents abandoned and they never knew. Ritual…liturgy…hymns. This is the testimony of Stephanie S. Smith at worship.com. It’s written so well. Here’s the first half, but you can read the full post here. It’s just another example of why new generations are interested in the convergence of old things and new things: old hymns to new music; new expressions of ancient liturgy.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer pews to movie theatre seats in a church. One of my favorite things about visiting Europe was the cathedrals. Hymns are endeared to me, beloved and familiar, and I feel swept up in the liturgy as we worshippers all join together in a common response. There is certainly beauty and truth in all worship, but for myself I have always experienced a particular sense of awe through older spiritual traditions.
In college I started attending an urban megachurch, the kind with its own podcast and concert lighting, but then gravitated towards a small, liturgical church instead. My friends and I called it “high church for low people” because the service consisted of formal liturgy and hymns but met in an old theatre where remnants of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” adorned the stage where the altar might have been.
Worship was a strange medley of old and new: congregants wore street clothes and toted travel mugs into the service, yet sang hymns written by church fathers to the classical consort complete with violin and penny whistle. The pastor wore a sweater instead of the traditional stole or clerical collar, yet led us through a liturgy of “Thees and Thous”. The artistry of the ancient won me over; I kept coming back.
I loved this little church because its liturgy offered me something solid. And you have to understand: I am the kind of person on whom measuring cups and day planners are lost. Blame it on my creative assets, but I do not do well with structure. However, I found that the structure of the creeds and prayers actually appealed to me. Rather than being rote and routine, the liturgy acted as an anchor for me in my transitional college years. The ancient script allowed me to join the ranks of saints who affirmed these very truths centuries before me, even as I stood: a college student with midterm eye circles and a penchant for picking pennies from the sidewalk. In this recital of truth, I felt I was participating in the great “cloud of witnesses” spoken of in Hebrews 12, who encourage us to press on in the race they have already won.