I love the sense that the Divine Liturgy officially begins with the Deacon saying to the Priest, “It is time for the Lord to Act”. Here we engage with the divine, absolute Other in order for the Liturgy to happen, and it is a synergy between the two rather than one on its own that makes it.
These simple words set the sense that we aren’t merely offering worship or giving praise – though we are, or that this is happening in a one-dimensional it’s-all-in-my-head thing, but that there really is someone so completely beyond us, beyond our control and quite independent of ourselves… someone we need to make this happen who’ll show up on their own… and then we’ll begin this together.
And it’s not that we’re ready so it’s time for God to start, but more that we’ve gathered knowing when He would, and we gather and begin together. And while the whole of the company of Heaven is already present in its ever streaming worship where it is always “now”… here it is just in the next moment where the Kingdom comes and the Lord who is always acting comes to us…. and we to Him as though joining with our voices in a quartet already in progress, as though “…With the next beat!” And so we have remembered in our realm, and He in His Kingdom, and the two come together in this work of the people… that is really so much more.
That’s a picture that feeds a more sacramental view of far more than just the Divine Liturgy, but of every day, of every moment… and our selves in every breath. Think, if this is how we begin the Liturgy, why don’t we begin more things this way? But of course we do… and then our awareness drops as become engaged, and rather than encountering everything together in a deep divine-human synergy between the present and eternity… we separate and move as though we travel alone.
That’s not necessarily an ugly or lesser thought… I mean there is still much beauty to behold in Ginger Rogers dancing alone (or Mikhail Baryshnikov). But I imagine if we stopped to wonder over everything as though we were some sort of perpetual ingenues we’d probably drive everyone around us batty. I mean, perhaps every now and then we can get away with it… with a brief pause for remembrance and thanks. But while the saints may be wired up this way… and given the scope to pursue their treks with all the gold leaf and all, we’re not really there… or at least not yet. And were we to “wonder as we wander” like the old hymn, we’d more likely fall into some narcissistic interlude.
“I mean really, can’t you just pass the butter? Do we have to wonder over the plate, the butter, how it got here, it’s “meaning” and ontological sense of being? I mean seriously… if it ain’t “being” on my plate pronto…”
Yeah. “It’s wildness lies in wait.”
And so unless the Deacon says, “It is time for the Lord to Act” perhaps our illusion of traveling alone continues. But instead, his gentle call wakes our obedience to the presence of the moment and the Lord himself. Indeed, “now is the time”. And unless these words come from somewhere, from someone… and maybe the still small voice heard in the silence as though it were the light that binds matter and darkness into the forms of this life… for it does… if ever so delicately… perhaps we’d miss it. Lord have mercy, what a blessing we’ve been given. Thanks be to God.