Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Introduction to “Embodied Listening”

On November 18, 1965, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, also known as Dei Verbum. This issue of Liturgy takes the fiftieth anniversary of Dei Verbum as an occasion to reflect on the relationship between liturgical worship and divine revelation.

In these pages, the reader will find essays that examine liturgical worship as a privileged location for experiencing divine revelation. Specifically, by highlighting the unity between the deeds of liturgy and the words of scripture, these essays will help the reader better attend to liturgical worship as an activity in which worshipers both embody and respond to God’s unending gift of divine friendship. . .

I argue that Dei Verbum offers Christians a way to understand liturgical worship as an act of embodied listening in response to God’s revelation. Through the lens of Dei Verbum’s theology, liturgical worship can be seen simultaneously as the visible speech of God and the communal listening of Christians. . . .

Karen B. Westerfield Tucker’s reflection on posture and gesture focuses on the intimate relationship between embodiment and scripture.

John F. Baldovin examines how the use of time in liturgical worship provides personal encounters with God’s past and future actions.

Teva Regule’s essay on iconography describes iconic encounters as moments in which Christians both see and are seen by God.

In his essay on liturgical music, Jan Michael Joncas emphasizes the fact that music can bear divine revelation into our hearts as a source of healing, education, fellowship, or confrontation.

Richard S. Vosko offers a meditation on how sacred space can be designed to foment a community’s encounter with God.

Finally, Matthew Sigler discusses the significance of how communities structure their liturgical worship. Specifically, Sigler highlights the risk that stems from too narrowly focusing on the sermon. . . .

The essays in this issue are meant to help the reader discover the various liturgical media through which they might experience the verbosity of God. It is easy to take for granted the space, time, music, gesture, art, and even the structures of our worship. However, by intentionally engaging these visible words of Divine Revelation, we learn to liturgically listen to the word of God so that we might be transformed by the fellowship God offers to us. While these essays are meant to be a path toward liturgical listening, they cannot be a substitute for it. It is my hope that this issue of Liturgy will encourage readers to engage God’s verbosity with their own bodies by daring to encounter God in diverse liturgical worship. 

by David Turnbloom, Guest Editor, Liturgy 31, no. 1 (Spring 2016).

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