Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life
Tish Harrison Warren
Review by Mark Friesen
What is the subject?
The book is a reflection on how faith and elements of liturgical worship informs the author’s thoughts and actions on a routine Tuesday in her life. Parts of the day are paired with an aspect of the liturgical church service: e.g., waking AND baptism; losing our keys AND confession; eating leftovers AND taking communion. In doing so, the author seeks to show in a thoughtful and winsome way how God can be found in the ordinary events of our lives.
Who is the author?
Tish Harrison Warren is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America. She writes regularly for The Well, InterVarsity’s online magazine for women in the academy and professions, and Christianity Today. She and her husband Jonathan (also an Anglican priest) live in Austin, Texas, with their two young daughters “in a house chock full of books with no matching forks or matching socks anywhere to be found” (cf. http://www.tishharrisonwarren.com/about/)
Why this book?
There is much in the evangelical church that appeals to the extraordinary or radical expressions of faith. This book is a necessary corrective to this tendency by highlighting the importance of our everyday lives to our formation in Christ. In addition, it is one of the best books I’ve read addressing the question of one could live out one’s faith in routine life on a micro level.
Comment on the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith
The author identifies with a sub-set of evangelicalism that is concerned with issues of social justice (examples, working with the poor, addressing systemic injustices, nonviolence). As such, she has much in common with an evangelical Anabaptist perspective. She has also embraced a liturgical faith in the tradition of the Anglican communion. This aspect may be more of a stretch for our theology; however, I think we would do well to listen to this perspective. Throughout the book, she uses this liturgical “lens” to provide insight into our ordinary lives and to critique some of the excesses of both evangelical and social justice expressions of Christian faith.
How we live our ordinary days will largely determine how we end up living our lives.
All of life can be lived as an act of liturgy/worship that matters to God.
Rhythms, patterns of a liturgical spirituality, can help inform the actions of our everyday lives. For example, starting our day by remembering our baptismal identify in Christ as beloved of God.
At times, the author unpacks almost too much theology from the mundane events of life. For example, when a deep reflection on the incarnation springs from brushing her teeth. Perhaps this is due to a lack of integration of faith and life on my part?
Other relevant information:
This is the author’s first published book. You can hear an interview with the author by Nathan Foster here.
Who should read it?
Anyone who wrestles with what it means to integrate one’s Christian faith into one’s daily life.
“The small bits of our day are profoundly meaningful because they are the site of our worship. The crucible of our formation is in the monotony of our daily routines”
“Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes”
As a confession: “I am a pacifist who yells at her husband.”
[Mark Friesen attends The Meeting Place, an MB congregation in downtown Winnipeg.