Sunday, July 7, 2013
We don't make this up as we go along. . .
We Orthodox Christians don't "make it up as we go along," either in our corporate worship or in our personal Christian lives. Neither do we conduct constant liturgical experiments or offer Sunday morning entertainments as some others do. Rather, following the Apostle's instruction that in our worship "all things be done decently and in order" (2 Cor. 14:40), we strive to be faithful to the sound pattern of worship that has been handed down to us by the saints...
The priest is making a needful and salutary complaint against the worship has become an activity in which spontaneity, experimentation, novelty, and entertainment value are the chief criteria for success. As one who has grown up with the constant (and, in my mind degrading and false) joke about how many Lutherans it takes to change a light bulb -- what change?!?!?! Why it doesn't take anyone to change a light bulb. We don't change. That light bulb was good enough for Opa and Oma so why would we change it now? I am sad to say that the mythology of no change has given way to one in which some Lutherans come to church every Sunday awaiting, anticipating, expecting, or dreading "what'll it be this week?" idea of worship.
Liturgical experimentation is generally the realm of those who believe that nothing is sacred and nothing is all that important, either. Change has become its own by-word. If it ain't broke, don't fix it has become instead if it is working, break it and break it so often that nobody will recall how it was... Seasonal and festival differences are just not enough for us; we want more.
The claim of Lutheranism is that this faith believed, confessed, and taught is not the realm of trend, fad, or novelty but that which was and is believed. We are not merely Christians, we are catholic Christians whose faith and practice was, is, and ever shall be the same -- not in some mechanical sense but in the familial sense as something that cannot but bear the strong family resemblance of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone.
In worship and in piety, the orthodox Christian faith is timeless (note there I am saying orthodox and not Orthodox). It is as comfortable in one age as in any age and does not have to be re-invented for every generation, culture, or era. It must simply be faithful. The particular Lutherans who sent me this newsletter (should I say former Lutherans) were Augustana folk who suffered through one merger after another the church they are bore no more than a hint of resemblance to the church they were. But it does not need to be this way nor should it. It is to our poverty that too many have given up on Lutheranism only because Lutheranism as it claims to be is not practiced. Ample evidence again that the problem was not that we tried being Lutheran and it did not work but that we have yet to try being Lutheran....