On Sunday I will visit another Lutheran congregation and sit in the pew. I will admit up front I am not a good pew sitter (it has nothing to do with the sitting but rather my complaints about what I am usually sitting for). I have a high standard for the places where I come to worship -- some would say too high. I expect a well planned and well executed liturgy, attuned to the season and Sunday, and richly adorned with the various resources of the hymnal in use to that season, Sunday, and pericopes. I expect a well written and well delivered sermon in which the Gospel predominates and which is faithful to the text without being a Bible study and faithful in preaching without being anecdotal or story only. I expect good music -- an organ well played to serve the texts of the hymns and liturgy, a choir well rehearsed and a well chosen anthem that connects to the pericopes, season and Sunday, and hymns that allow me to sing what I hear in lessons and sermon. I am not a good pew sitter -- and I do not say this out of arrogance against those in whose houses of worship I find myself. Rather, I say this because worship is our highest and most privileged calling and if we carry it out, we better do the best we can.
But I am also a realist. I am many times disappointed though I do not mean to be critical of inability -- more so unwillingness to do the work than inability. I do not expect a cathedral from a country parish and I do not expect something beyond the capability of that parish and parish pastor though I do expect everything that they are capable of giving. And I expect to be disappointed -- not because I want to be but because to do well in this thing called worship requires more work than most pastors and parishes are willing to invest.... and this is sad... So I am just warning you... as I prepare to sit in the pew this Sunday morning.... I may have a few things to say and some of them may not be kind...
This is not because I intend to be hypercritical or smug... it is just that I expect a great deal from the opportunity and the responsibility that is worship in the evangelical and catholic setting of the Church of the Augsburg Confession....
I can't watch a lot of basketball games myself, because I'll notice when the referee will, uh, disagree with me. :)
>> ...I expect a great deal...
"My idea of good company, Mr Elliot, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company."
"You are mistaken," said he gently, "that is not good company; that is the best.
--Jane Austen, Persuasion
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