High Church for Asian Americans

liturgy2Those of you who know me well know that I have a love for liturgical worship. In the last few years, I’ve found myself drawn to Anglo-Catholic and Orthodox expressions of worship. The icons, rich artwork, incense, ritual, mystery, and a deep sense of beauty is what draws me nigh. Every ritual practiced in these liturgies has meaning and history. There’s a purpose for everything that is done. I also appreciate that in high church settings it is the Eucharist, not the sermon, that is the high point of worship. Thus, partaking in the Eucharist weekly is important to me. All these things I do not experience in a low-church, namely evangelical (even most mainline denominations), environment. However, one major issue I have with these high church expressions is the lack of whole body interaction with liturgy. For example, in the Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the male priestly figures do all the ritualizing while the congregants sit/stand and observe or receive.

Lately, I have been asking myself, “What would a rich, deep liturgy for Asian Americans look like?”…

Wouldn’t it make sense for Asian American Christians to experiment with such a worship style? Our long cultural heritage points to religious practices deep with intention, deliberateness, meaning, and mysticism. Would recapturing that in a form of ritualistic liturgy, where there’s no spatial division between clergy and congregant, no 40-minute sermon, no front man for the band, be faithful to who we are as Jesus followers and as Asian Americans?

What would it look like where all are participating in rituals that is familiar, meaningful, and communal to all those who worship together?

What would the practices be that combine a deep sense of cultural re-imagination with the mystery and the beauty of the Gospel?

What would the worship space look like that can heighten the sense of awe in worship God together?

And can Asian Americans even begin to worship in this way?