All right, this is an audience participation post.
Take your right arm and extend it horizontally across your face. Take your left arm placing it vertically in front of your face. You’ve got a cross. And, yea, this is about horizontal and vertical faith… but hang in with me… I might have a new take on it.
I was at our Next Horizons planning overnight (regarding our social justice programming,) when my mind wandered towards this. For a good while, I believed that young people needed to be more connected towards liturgy within the parish community… but, as we talked justice and service, I became more convicted that the parish connection was essential for that as well. We have separated kids too long from the whole community in its experience of liturgy and we have, likewise, separated the whole community from young people’s experience of service.
Still got your arms in cross formation? I think we lean towards a preference towards one arm/ faith perspective. Folks who prefer liturgy are often associated with the vertical, offering their praise as it ascends to the Heavenly Father. The vertical folks, however, see their work with neighbor as extending the mission of God across all boundaries. And they are both right, but both a little incomplete as well.
I do view liturgy horizontally as well and, likely, so do you. The Body and Blood of Christ are elevated at consecration, but the Body of Christ is found in the pews around you and I as well. My relationship with the Lord is inseparable from my relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. During the Eucharistic prayer, I break bread with the joys of the past week as well as pour my sorrows into the chalice of sacrifice. I find myself united with those whom I am separated- by death, distance, or disappointment. Liturgy is horizontal.
And we really should understand that service is a vertical moment as well. When doing Service In God’s Name, we are a SIGN, an incarnational presence of the Lord’s works as an agent of healing and justice yet once again in this world.
A quarter-turn in our perspective on this stuff, perhaps, offers a fuller understanding.