Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Concerning the Spirituality of Repetition

Lutherans like to repeat themselves. The most obvious liturgical example of this is our preference for the three-year Sunday lectionary, the two-year daily lectionary, the staidness of ecumenical liturgy, as well as our increased commitment to weekly Eucharistic worship.

But the tendency towards repetition runs deeper than that. We have tended to be, like Catholics, people who repeat the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. We may not pray these prayers in the context of the Rosary, but we are called upon in our confessional documents (especially in the Small Catechism) to repeat the Lord's Prayer often (before meals, before bed, upon rising, at other times of need), as well as the creed. And Luther reminds us that part of the Christian life is remembering our baptism daily, so that daily a new self would arise.

Which is to say, we are born again daily, we keep repeating birth. When asked, were you born again? the proper response of a Lutheran is, well, yes, today. And yesterday. And the day before that. The repetition of the same is not deadly tedium, but lively Te Deum.

I recently had a homebound parishioner ask me if it was ok that at night she tended to simply repeat the same prayers over and over again, prayers for safety for her family, prayers for her church, prayers for me as her pastor. The thought that she was petitioning God over and over for me and for our congregation, there alone interceding, was gift. I imagine the saints praying and saying the same thing over and over and loving it. There above interceding.

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