Liturgy of the Ordinary offers a profound message on our everyday lives

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“Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Harrison Warren offers a profound message on our everyday lives

June 20, 2023 -

A mother and daughter clap their hands together, sending flour into the air, while making bread. © By fizkes/

A mother and daughter clap their hands together, sending flour into the air, while making bread. © By fizkes/

A mother and daughter clap their hands together, sending flour into the air, while making bread. © By fizkes/

For a small, seemingly simple book, Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren reveals a profound message about the sacredness of our daily lives.

A friend gave me this book at the end of our Bible study, which also happened to coincide with the end of an anything-but-ordinary season for me. It was a season where God’s presence and peace were so vivid and tangible, the trial paled in comparison to his glory.

And while I was grateful for the end of that season, and practically begging for life to once again be “normal,” what I didn’t expect was for my life to feel so totally ordinary again.

The reality of mountaintop experiences is that, at some point, you have to come back down the mountain, and, as Harrison Warren says often in her book, back to the “quotidian ways” of life.

In case you’re like me and have no idea what quotidian means, Webster’s defines it as “occurring every day, commonplace, ordinary.”

Moving from ordinary to extraordinary

liturgy of the ordinary tish harrison warrenHer book came at a good time for me because it reframed my perspective on the mundane practices of my daily life and how those seemingly ordinary rituals can actually be extraordinary moments that reflect God’s glory. Like she says in the first chapter, “How I spend this ordinary day in Christ is how I will spend my Christian life.”

If you lead a small group and are looking for a less intense Bible study, Liturgy of the Ordinary would be an excellent selection. It comes with a “discussion questions and practices” section for each of the eleven chapters.

Correlating everyday practices or rituals like waking, brushing teeth, mundane work tasks, and being stuck in traffic to spiritual practices and Sunday worship habits, Harrison Warren invites the reader to discover sacredness in the seemingly small tasks we walk through each day.

Kingdom work through humdrum lives

If you’re anything like me, you probably experience those days where you wonder how God can use you for his kingdom purpose because your daily life is just so regular. My days are typically the same every day: I get up; drink my tea and read; get ready for the day; go down the hallway to my office and begin work; walk my dogs; work out; get dinner ready; watch some TV or read; go to bed. Rinse and repeat most days. There is Bible study during the school year and church on Sunday, occasional lunches or dinners out with friends, and chores, but, on the whole, you just read my life in a nutshell.

I happen to work for a ministry, so I am blessed to do “kingdom work” professionally, but in this book, Harrison Warren helped me to realize that each seemingly mindless task I perform throughout the day is also an opportunity for God to redeem me for his glory and kingdom plan.

She challenges the reader to examine our daily liturgy and determine how they are forming us. Are they sparking life and joy, or are they making us feel “less alive, less human, less able to give and receive love throughout our day”?

Every moment can matter

While her theological education and experience reveal themselves in her vocabulary, she has a self-deprecating, relatable vulnerability to her writing that made me feel like I was sitting down with a friend who knew me and accepted me—boring days and all.

That style of writing drives home the primary theme of the book: God can use every moment of our lives to sanctify us and make us holy—even the most mundane moments like making your bed or brushing your teeth.

In Chapter 2 she writes, “In the creation story, God entered chaos and made order and beauty. In making my bed I reflected that creative act in the tiniest, most ordinary way. In my small chaos, I made small order.” She goes on to say that our daily lives are shaped whether we realize it or not by practices—“rituals and liturgies that make us who we are.”

What we do, regardless of how seemingly insignificant it is to us, matters to God. A perspective I had never had that she pointed out was the timing of Jesus’ baptism.

God chose the most ordinary time

She writes, “It’s remarkable that when the Father declares at Jesus’ baptism, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ Jesus hasn’t yet done much of anything that many would find impressive. He hasn’t yet healed anyone or resisted Satan in the wilderness. He hasn’t been crucified or resurrected. It would make more sense if the Father’s proud announcement came after something grand and glorious. . . . But after hearing about Jesus’ birth and a brief story about his boyhood, we find him again as a grown man at the banks of the Jordan.”

God chose the most ordinary time in Jesus’ life to proclaim him “my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He was a commoner, just like us, and he is also our perfect example and role model. Everything he did, from loving and healing others to preaching, teaching, rebuking, and redeeming, he did “not in order to gain the Father’s approval, but out of his rooted certainty in the Father’s love.”

Invite God into every detail

This book is such a sweet reminder that I am my Father’s beloved, with whom he is well pleased, not for anything that I have done, but simply because of who he is. And when I invite him into every detail of my life—even those small, insignificant details—God works to recreate his beloved into the image of Christ.

If you are walking through a season of monotony, bored and uninspired by your daily liturgy, pick up this book and allow God to remind you of the beauty, sanctity, and joy that follow us whenever we choose to “wait for Jesus to show up.”

As Harrison Warren quotes from a book by Mark Galli called Beyond Smells and Bells, “We don’t have to do much. The liturgy is not an act of will. It is not a series of activities designed to attain a spiritual or mental state. In worship, we show up, abide, and we rest. And as Galli says, ‘If we will dwell there, remain in place, wait patiently, Jesus will show up.’”

More by Trace Kennedy

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