Today there are many of us in TEC [The Episcopal Church] whose spirituality and doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) has been shaped by the way we worship. We are alarmed by those whose religious experience is framed not by our structural heritage but by a religious experience which looks to an “authority” above and beyond the language and temper of our liturgy. Some are ultra conservatives, framed by “charismatic evangelicalism” and many, convinced that the church is not a safe home, have abandoned TEC and formed their own home.
The ascendant and dominating party in our church describes and limits our heritage in the light of their cultural, social and “justice” issues. For them the contents, structure and ethos of our worship is no longer the law of faith and of prayer, but a neutral reality which may be used as a vehicle for their reforms.
Using the liturgy for our own purposes and agendas, we miss the possibilities for spiritual, moral, and theological formation it offers. But in order for that formation to happen, we have to be willing to submit ourselves - to give ourselves over - to the shaping power of liturgy and common prayer. We have to trust something (and Someone) larger than ourselves to help shape us as the selves God would have us become. Perhaps the loss of autonomy that entails frightens some of us. Or perhaps some of us are just so hell-bent on making the Church over in our own image (because we just know we are right in doing so) that liturgy really doesn't really matter. Liturgy is just a tool, a means to more important ends, an expression of interests, an ecclesial manifestation of the will to power.
As an Episcopalian once said in my presence, "Maybe one day we'll get a Prayer Book that's relevant." I heard that to mean, "Maybe one day we'll get a Prayer Book that suits my ideas about what's good, beautiful, and true." That way of thinking doesn't fit well within a tradition which emphasizes common prayer. But that way of thinking may be just one of the many challenges to retaining and living the tradition we have received.