A House of Meanings

Christian Worship in Plain Language

Juan Oliver

Jan/2020, 192 Pages, PAPER, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781640651401



A plain language exploration of the theology of worship

Professional theological terminology is often inaccessible to the average Christian. A House of Meanings presents liturgical theology in accessible ways, free of technical language. The book is designed for individual reading and structured to be a resource for a series of parish workshops. Chapters conclude with a discussion guide to assist parishioners in developing their own sense of the value of worship and its relationship to our daily lives. Readers will be better able to understand and communicate how the Church is both gathered and sent into service to the world, examining the system of signs and symbols that constitute Christian worship at its core.

Unique and refreshing, A House of Meanings will be useful not only to congregations but to seminarians and anyone planning or evaluating worship.

Read an excerpt

JUAN OLIVER has served in a variety of ministerial positions as vicar, interim rector, acting canon to the ordinary, and as an academic and professor. Dr. Oliver has published widely on worship and Latino ministry. Ripe Fields: The Promise and Challenge of Latino Ministry was published in 2009; A House of Meanings: Christian Worship in Plain Language in 2020. The Rev. Dr. Oliver is the former custodian of the Book of Common Prayer and lives in Santa Fé, New Mexico.

"This is the book Juan Oliver was born to write. With the fluency of an experienced pastor, teacher, and scholar and the courage of a well-formed faith, Juan provides a roadmap from worship to daily life and back again. His genius is knowing the tradition so well that seeker and bishop will find what they are looking for."
—Lisa Kimball, PhD, James Maxwell Professor of Lifelong Christian Formation, Virginia Seminary

"At the heart of Christian ritual is faith—faith in Jesus, the incarnate Son of God—but for many Christians, ritual can risk becoming a meaningless routine, leaving clergy and laity alike wondering 'what does all this mean?' Juan Oliver offers us the gift of 'disclosure of meaning' in this most helpful volume."
—Louis Weil, James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics Emeritus at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific

"The core of formation in discipleship is formation through and around liturgical action, and few are as qualified as Juan Oliver to lead us into such formation. A House of Meanings offers an evocative and accessible resource for practical liturgical formation, hitting some truly important notes: that the meanings of worship are many, not one; that they are meaning made by someone in the company of others; that they are made in conversation with the riches of the living tradition we practice. What a gem this book is!"
—James Farwell, Virginia Theological Seminary

"Dr. Oliver has given us a clear and accessible resource for the study of liturgy and how it works. This volume will be invaluable to parish clergy as the basis for parish study groups and liturgy committee work. Seminarians and seasoned clergy will find it full of both helpful reminders and fresh insights."
—J. Neil Alexander, Dean, Sewanee School of Theology


I Signs of Grace: How Worship Works

II The Hinge of the Year: The Liturgies
of Holy Week

III Your Own Death and Resurrection:
Baptism and Confirmation

IV Talking and Eating with God:
The Eucharist

V Getting Organized: Holy Order

VI Sign of God’s Love: Marriage

VII In a New Place: Anointing
of the Sick

VIII The Uprising of Jesus Christ:
The Church, its Mission, and Cultures

A Postscript on Liturgical Design


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  • Worship
  • Liturgy
  • Comparative Religion

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