If you’re interesting in doing this, now is the time as the liturgical year has just begun, this being First Advent. At Advent, the celebration is one of anticipation — today is not the day to sing or read about the Nativity but to consider the depth of Israel’s gloom and the hope of a Messiah. The hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel is a good place to start. In our home we dressed one of the garden trees today, put up our Christmas tree, and went to the evening Advent service at our local Anglican church. Some BCC reading here.
I understand why Mormonism does not follow the Christian liturgy. The low church of Yankee America from which Mormonism sprang was rightly suspicious of the cadences and rituals of old Christianity, associated as it was with so many ecclesiastical abuses and the poisonous elitism of medieval European religion. Mormonism has a rich tradition of worship on which to draw, and many Saints are satisfied with their own cycle of worship, from the Sunday block and Firesides to Family Home Evening and daily study.
However, believing that we can learn from other traditions and recognising that some people are interested in a more formal cycle of worship, I am working on a Mormon liturgical year of sorts, inspired by Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals. You can find this work in progress here. I will update it through the year and welcome your feedback. I will try to Mormonise things somewhat (for example, by including Restoration scripture and celebrating certain unique Mormon holidays) but it will unashamedly remain a kind of stripped-down ecumenical work inspired by the Anglican tradition.
Two quick points:
1. Mormons have an aversion to so-called “vain repetitions” widely understood to refer to set prayers. I have tried to accommodate this by simplifying the prayers and making room for one’s own extemporaneous meditations in the Mormon style. It has to be said, however, that Mormonism does indeed have set prayers of its own and even our informal prayers often fall into “vain repetition” (cf. “nourish and strengthen our bodies”, etc). So the reluctance to say things like the Lord’s Prayer is both somewhat illogical and a fairly new tradition in Mormonism. Written prayers can often provide a source for meditation and can easily flow into something more personal.
2. It strikes me as somewhat unfortunate that in abandoning, for the most part, the Christian calendar, Mormonism loses a link with an ancient cycle of worship that goes all the way back to the temples of Israel. We of course do follow a calendar — a secular one — and are happy to both commercialise what could otherwise be important feasts, e.g. Halloween, and mark the seasons laid down by the Caesars rather than the Bible. Our year is thus more pagan than Christian. I believe that the Christian calendar can help us enter a new time in which God’s work in the world is remembered both weekly — from the Lord’s Day along the daily path of creation and atonement — and annually from Advent to Easter.
I am moved by liturgy and think it need not dishonour the Mormon tradition. Feel free to follow along with me.