Let me begin with two quotes from a recent collection of essays by British Methodist liturgical theologian Geoffrey Wainwright, both of which, I believe, speak to the overall theme of this year's liturgical institute. First, in an essay originally published in 1988, Wainwright says: "Without the heartbeat of the sacraments at its center, a church will lack confidence about the gospel message and about its own ability to proclaim that message in evangelism, to live it out in its own internal fellowship, and to embody it in service to the needy."1 And, second, in an essay appearing originally in 1993, he writes that "a deeper replunging into its own tradition will, in my judgment, be necessary if the church is to survive in recognizable form, particularly in our western culture."2
Johnson, Maxwell E., "Baptismal "Spirituality" in the Early Church and Its Implications for the Church Today" (1999). Institute of Liturgical Studies Occasional Papers. Paper 83.