Saturday, June 4, 2011

Picking a Snapshot to Define Everything

I have a personal issue with those who put in a picture from a person's young adulthood in an obituary for a person who dies after 7 or 8 decades of life.  We may want to think we are still the same person we were in our 20s but when we look in the mirror we see that we are not. I have the same problem when people pick a particular point in the liturgical development of the Church as the high point and say everything has to fit that snap shot.  Some choose TLH and 1941 as the apex of liturgical development of Lutherans (in the Missouri Synod, anyway).  Others might pick another time.  Some are romantic about the early church era as the pristine state of liturgical development.  A few are medievalists.  Rome and St. Louis are both in a war over which date to pick for the best liturgy -- Rome has Novus Ordo but many long for Trent; St. Louis has LSB but many long for TLH (or Walther's Agenda or Loehe's Agenda).

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...


Anonymous said...

For Pastor Peters response go to
#61 on The Brothers of John the
Steadfast Website/Blog under
"Where is the Love? Introducing
Liturgical Innovation and Breaking

Anonymous said...

Concerning comment #61

Your exaggeration has no factual
basis: "There are thousands of
congregations in Synod....who are
ditching the liturgy, skipping the
Sacrament, disregarding historic
hymns, and ignoring the church year
are common abuses."

Most parishes who do CW also offer
a traditional worship service from LSB. Chill out my friend.

Janis Williams said...

When did worship become a smorgasbord?

I believe the point of Fr. Peters' post was to say that the Liturgy should shape our worship. "LSB should be the norm...." Depending upon your definition of CW, it can be Liturgical. Much of it is not. I doubt there are thousands of LCMS congregations jumping ship, but there are an awful lot of them throwing the 'cargo' overboard.

Pastor Peters said...

Offering traditional worship at 7 am on Sunday morning while the other two services are blended or contemporary is not the same as holding to Lutheran liturgical identity. As far as the numbers, I am extrapolating because 1 of every 2-3 congregations in the MidSouth District offers CoWo as one of its or its primary service.

The Good Tale said...

I invite you to hear the true word of God because Satan has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9 by his words in the book of the knowledge of good and evil, the Bible Gen 3:22, 2 Cor 11:15 that have not been rightly divided 2 Tim 2:15.
The true word John 1:1 of God is now delivered Rev 12:5, 13 at the heel of time Gen 3:15 at
Satans lies are exposed. Not even one child of God will be cast into a hell fire no matter what thier sins have been. Everyone will be judged according to our works of love and placed in God our fathers world Rev 21. God is not a murderer, Satan is. God who is Love never fails.
Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess each in their own order Ps 82:6.
How we love others is how we are loving God for he made them Matt 25:40. A true Christian loves their neighbor as themself as if they were them. Therefore they do not harm any child of God, for any reason. This true word turns the hearts of the fathers to the children of God for not one will perish, it is the will of God.

Terry Maher said...

It is no longer about whether liturgy is a smorgasbord or not.

LSB -- in "family resemblance" to the contemporary service books of liturgical mainline heterodox churches -- is already a smorgasbord.

Why wouldn't people wonder why the smorgasbord be defined by this or that book, or why not include this or that too since we're having a smorgasbord?