Liturgy. The word comes from a Greek term, leitourgia – work of the people. In ancient Greek society, leitourgia referred to works of public service performed by people at their own expense, work such as building a bridge or repairing a road. Christian communities adopted the term leitourgia to refer to service offered to God in worship. Perhaps Christian leaders and communities today can connect again the doxological rhythms of Sunday worship liturgies with the everyday work of people.
What if, for example, liturgy has to do both with hymns and prayers we offer in worship and with how people join daily with God in God’s creative and redeeming work in the world. Repeated, everyday acts of human living, the things we do because we must to make ends meet – is it possible that these are liturgy? Psalm 104 speaks about this. Springs gush. Cattle nibble plentiful grain. God plays in the ocean with a mythical sea monster. In Psalm104, God cares for all creation, down to details of the daily dance of the sun and moon. What is the role humans in creation and in relation to God? “People go out to their work and labor until the evening” (vs. 23). God’s work in creation. Human work. The daily work of our hands and our minds. Liturgy.
As a part of each academic year’s September liturgy, students in our Master of Divinity program take up “the work of the people” through ministry internships. Through internships, students experience how classroom learning and the work and wisdom of faith communities are interconnected and mutually transforming. Theology is birthed and dwells in the day-to-day work of God’s people in congregations and not-for-profit ministries. As students participate in internships, they learn how to name the theological wisdom that resides in communities even as they are challenged to think reflectively about their own theologies and ministerial work.
This year, School of Divinity students are engaged in varied ministry contexts through their participation in Art of Ministry courses. What I have learned over a number of years of hearing about internship experiences is that professional formation for ministry happens as students integrate classroom learning, life experiences, cultural realities and pastoral skills.
Psalm 104 begins and ends with a liturgical note of praise: Bless the Lord, O my soul. We echo that note of praise as a word of gratitude for the vital role people in internship settings play in our school’s work to equip students to be agents of justice, reconciliation and compassion.
Some Internship Settings for 2013-2014
|Calvary Christian Center||New Creation Community Church, Greensboro|
|Center for Congregational Health||New Light Missionary Baptist Church, Greensboro|
|Children’s Home (United Methodist)||Peace Haven Baptist Church|
|Christ Church, Anglican||Piney Grove Baptist Church|
|Elm Grove Baptist, Reidsville||Samaritan Ministries|
|Emerywood Baptist Church, High Point||St. John CME Church|
|Emmanuel Baptist Church||St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church|
|FaithHealth NC||Stone Circles at the Stone House, Mebane|
|First Christian Church||United Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church|
|First Presbyterian, Greensboro||VIA Faith Community|
|Forsyth Medical Center Chaplaincy||Wake Forest Baptist Church|
|Greensboro Urban Ministry, Greensboro||Wentz United Church of Christ|
|HerSpace, Inc.||Wake Forest Chaplain’s Office|
|Knollwood Baptist Church||Winston-Salem First|
|Mt. Pleasant AME Zion, Statesville||YWCA|
|North Carolina Council of Churches – Partners in Health and Wholeness|
|Last Day to Drop Classes||October 1|
|Fall Break||October 10 – 11|
Blessings on the week ahead,
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Photo: Mamie Murphy, MDiv ’14, prepares for worship at VIA Faith Community in Winston-Salem.