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Seeing the Redemptive Story

I was pleased to receive in the mail this wonderful Liturgical Guide from Parclete Press by Gavin Long. The look of the book is very appealing with its imitation leather cover and beautiful cross imprint on the front. To be honest, I was a little curious about what I might find in this liturgical guide. I knew from study that every church whether high or low church in worship has a liturgy. I was pleased to note in the introduction Long expresses part of his goal in saying, "Celebrating the redemptive story in our homes requiresa balance of creativity and catholicity" (8). In describing the creativity and catholicity of practicing liturgy at home, Long is speaking of the continuing conversation we have with God and with others, including their expressions of worship and gifts. The goal is not to narrow the focus to a select few but to create an environment where people are able to bring their lives before Christ. I do also really appreciate Long's insistence that it is the redemptive story that should shape our liturgy. Throughout this book, I was saying to myself, 'Yes, that's it,' as I saw how he combined the Old Testament and the New to bring the unity of the message of Christ.

What else did I think was very good in this liturgical guide? Theologically, Long was careful to tell the redemptive story highlighting the Trinitarian foundation of salvation. In the Opening of Sabbath for Advent, Long yses children's responses to highlight that the coming of Jesus was part of God's plan and done by the power of the Holy Spirit. We get a grand sense of the filial love and connectedness that each person of the Trinity has for another and this in turn leads us to worship. Secondly, I think Long did a great job at mentioning some key aspects of Christology that sometimes go unmentioned. He says on the same page through the leader's words, "This Advent season, we anticipate the birth of the King, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World and the fulfillment of all of God's promises" (18). Seeing Jesus as King brings us to a sense of awe and wonder as we serve him as obedient subjects or servants. Through the incarnation, death, resurrection, asencsion, Jesus is exalted as King over all creation and redefines what it means to be king here on earth as well.

I also thought that the prayers of the week were very appropriate for the liturgy of the week and were drawn from both ancient and modern voices of the church. I really appreciated the prayers from the Orthodox church, both Russian and Eastern. These prayers highlighted some aspects of the ministry and life of Jesus that I don't usually meditate upon. Overall, I thought that the liturgical guide was both very practical for adults and children and brings out a sense of the holiness and nearness of God. Lastly, I think that this guide helps us practically retell the story of the Bible, from Creation to Consummation in a way that helps us remember and store in our hearts the message of redemption and renewal that is not to be missed. We have too long read the same passages in the same way without taking the stories and message to heart in the context of a worshipping community.

On a more practical note, I was glad to see that Long decided to include prayers that were both long and short, centered on the biblical story and our story. Sometimes liturgy can move into rote receciation that has no room for creativity, and I think Long did a good job at aiming to stay in line with the biblical story while being creative in his approach. For all that was said prior, the biggest part of this liturgical guide for me was that it allowed me and my family to worship God in a more intimate way, realizing that we need God just as much for the rain for our crops as we do as our Savior.

Much thanks to Paraclete Press for the review copy.


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