Saturday, June 4, 2011
Picking a Snapshot to Define Everything
I am not one to disdain the shape of Divine Service Settings I and II while at the same time I do appreciate Setting III. I do not think that any one moment in our history should be used to define all the boundaries -- now this does not mean we are all free to do whatever weird thing a Lutheran has done at some point or another. Those who regularly read this blog know already know that. What I am saying is that rigid uniformity is not and has never been the liturgical law of Lutheranism. Neither has the radical diversity of today. Rather, wherever you go on Sunday morning, Lutherans have tended to look and sound pretty much the same within certain parameters. It is just as valid to speak the liturgy with few ceremonies like we do at a week day Eucharist as it is to chant, to have many acolytes and assisting ministers, liturgical choir, processions, etc., as we do on Sunday morning. But if you attended both, you would immediately see the family resemblance. This is what I long for -- diversity shaped by the local situation and not by personal preference yet shaped within the recognizable family tree of Lutheran liturgical identity.
We have folks who complain about the few extra liturgical additions and call them innovations (when they are hardly new even to Lutherans) and place these upon the same plain as those who have ditched every liturgical identity common to Lutherans at any point in their history. While I respect their right to an opinion, I think that such equivalence is not accurate nor fair. We hardly face a threat from those who go beyond the Lutheran Service Book hymnal but we do face a serious threat for those who refuse to be shaped by this book. I do not think that LSB needs to be enforced as the only portrait of Sunday morning among LCMS parishes but it should be the minimum. For those who want to reach back into 16th and 17th century Lutheran liturgical practice for additional things not in LSB, I think that our liturgical flexibility should allow this. The reality is that this time period in Lutheran history was a whole lot more liturgical than even LSB reflects.
So there you have it... I am passionate about the liturgy and about liturgical practice consistent with our Lutheran Confession and yet flexible enough to allow much room to shape the elaborateness of that liturgical form to flourish consistent with our Confession while at the same time insisting the at minimum LSB should be the norm for those who have gone down another path of non-denominational contemporary worship forms...