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Why This Baptist Embraced Liturgy: A Review of ‘Every Moment Holy’ by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

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I am very Baptist.

I grew up in a Baptist preacher’s home, went to a Baptist college, and found myself working for and eventually pursuing multiple degrees at a Baptist seminary. Each time my family relocated due to education or career changes, we engaged with various Baptist churches and ministries in multiple states.  So, when I say, “I am very Baptist,” I’m not exaggerating. My roots run deep.

So, you can imagine my shock when this Baptist girl overheard my seminary friends talking about some Puritan prayer-books and liturgical writings that were rocking their world. I had never heard of such things! “Why in the world would I read a dead Puritan’s prayers?” I naively wondered. In fact, I’m pretty sure I immediately ran to my computer and Googled, “What are liturgical books?” and waited to see what kind of rebellious literature my friends were pursuing. My Baptist upbringing and education left me lacking in the liturgy department. The whole idea was foreign to me, and (if I’m honest) I feared the unknown.

And yet, thanks to my friends’ encouragement, I found myself devouring books like Valley of Vision and The Book of Common Prayer. Years later, when I found myself in difficult seasons and unable to produce my own prayers, I would crack open one of those faithful friends and find myself whispering theologically rich prayers that lifted my eyes off my circumstances and onto time-tested truths about God.

This past summer I was gifted with Douglas Kaine McKelvey’s book, Every Moment Holy. I knew deep in my soul that this book of liturgies was more than just beautiful writing to consume. This book would become a faithful companion in practicing the discipline of making every moment holy.

And it has.

This book has taught me the beauty of seeing God in every moment.

Every Moment Holy: New Liturgies for Everyday Life is a gift to the modern church. Its beautifully rich prayers aren’t only for special occasions or church gatherings; rather McKelvey has used his gift with words to write theologically rich liturgies for every sort of human experience.

The book contains 100 liturgies and is broken up into themed sections: liturgies of the hours, of labor and vocation, of creation and recreation, of blessing and celebration, of petition and provision, of sorrow and lament, of the moment, and for table blessings. Each section has multiple prayers assigned for a variety of specific occasions; there are liturgies for the mundane tasks in life, for grand celebrations, morning coffee, meals and liturgies for deep sorrow.

In addition to containing beautiful prayers, the book itself is also aesthetically stunning. The textured hardback binding is simple and elegant, made to withstand frequent use. The liturgies mirror its outward appearance. These prayers, rich and beautiful, were meant to stand the test of time, and it is my hope that my children and their children will discover the value of this book like I have.

Situations that typically entice me to gaze at this world now give me the opportunity to gaze at the one who ordained them.

McKelvey has taken the beauty of liturgies and applied them to everyday living, which as the title suggests, has pushed me to realize that truly every moment is holy. The liturgy “For a Moment of Frustration at a Child” offers me an eternal perspective when my flesh wants to react in the here and now. The liturgy “For the Death of a Dream” has been a healing balm to my soul as I see God’s sovereign hand in my undoing and the suffering that he has gifted to me. The liturgies that are read before laundry or preparing a meal have lifted my eyes off of the task and directed them back to my maker. And this Baptist girl has even found herself sitting around the table awkwardly practicing call and response, while my kids stared at me with confusion as we veered from our typical casual prayer. (To my dear Presbyterian and Anglican friends, go ahead cackle at our Baptist peculiarities, I’m fine with it.)

But as I’ve stumbled my way through learning to appreciate the practice of liturgies, I have been gifted with something more than merely an added discipline. This book has taught me the beauty of seeing God in every moment, and yet it has also taught me the beauty in praying theologically rich prayers that I couldn’t have produced on my own. Situations that typically entice me to gaze at this world now give me the opportunity to gaze at the one who ordained them. And thanks to Every Moment Holy, I have been given a new set of eyes to see the hand of an Almighty God at work in our ordinary world — and words to celebrate that wonder. 

You can learn more about this beautiful book, produced by Rabbit Room Press, at www.everymomentholy.com.

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Brittany Salmon

Brittany Salmon is a professor, writer, and Bible teacher who’s pursuing her doctorate from Southeastern Seminary. She lives in Abilene, Texas with her husband and four children, and she has an upcoming book on adoption titled, 'It Takes More than Love: A Christian Guide to Navigating the Complexities of Cross-Cultural Adoption.'

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