Sunday, January 25, 2015
But it is just man made. . .
Okay, yeah. The liturgy did not just drop out of heaven in exactly the form and words we have in our hymnal. I will grant you that. But it is not exactly man-made either. It is largely Scripture, direct quotations and paraphrases. And the pattern or order was not put together by an individual or even by a committee but over time from the earliest of Christian history. The liturgy is not a creature of a particular language or culture (except the culture of Scripture itself). The liturgy was not invented but drew from the worship life of God's people from Temple to synagogue to Upper Room. It is the greatest of all fallacies to claim we have a German liturgy. Sixty percent of the population of America can claim German ancestry but the liturgy is not one of them. It is Latin and Greek and Hebrew. But... I digress.
What my point is, slow and labored though it is in making, is that EVERY LITURGY or worship pattern or form can rightfully be smeared with the same terrible judgment -- it is just man-made. Now comes the crux of it all. MOST Evangelical and Protestant liturgy (what passes for an order of worship) is man-made on the spot or a week or two ahead by the worship ministry, the minister of worship arts, the music director, the preacher, the pastor. .. you name the person. In fact it is often as old as a moment and as deep as the moment. So what would rather use? A worship form rooted in the Old Testament, New Testament, and the earliest of Christian history OR one that came out of the top of the head of the one or the committee responsible for worship in the moment?
In a recent discussion with someone involved with worship in an Evangelical congregation, I found out that there is a worship app which this person and the rest of the staff has on their smartphones and this is the "liturgy" used on Sunday morning. Now this person is a sincere and pious believer and a hard worker. It is not my point to demean this person. My point is that this IS liturgy and it is man-made, so recent you can point to the people who made it up! We can argue all day long about what is man-made and what is not but the issue ought to be from what source has it come and what is its pedigree?
Todd Wilken summed it up pretty well. He wondered why David's momentary over exuberance with a naked dance has become normative for worship while centuries of liturgical tradition shaped by the worship of the Temple and the synagogue are forgotten or dismissed as "man-made". Go figure. . .