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Smith would argue that participation in liturgy encourages such reception, but in my experience, liturgical Christians don’t seem more likely to forgive than non-liturgical Christians. In fact, I know many Christians opposed to liturgical worship whose openness to God in their Scripture reading and congregational service has formed their desires in incredibly virtuous ways. God’s indwelling is a gift capable of being nurtured by our choices but not something automatically produced by various methods of worship.

Focusing on desire underlines our need for God to refine what drives us, including our liturgical behavior. As we allow God to expose, test, and refine our desires, we will be pushed to change how we participate in, direct and preside over, or revise and steward liturgical forms: connecting together the mind, emotions, and body and enlivening the feedback loop between liturgy and ethics. We might also discover how to live in greater union with other Christians, based on principles other than whether or not they worship liturgically. Without a commitment to these processes, the movement to promote liturgy within evangelicalism runs the risk of becoming a fad failing to produce lasting impact.

Kirsten Laurel Guidero is a Ph.D. candidate in systematic theology at Marquette University and an aspirant to ordained ministry in the Anglican Communion.

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We Need More Than Liturgy