Sunday, December 8, 2019
"Fresh" thinking. . .
Some of you may be wondering why we Lutherans should pay any attention to what is happening in Rome or in the Amazon, for that matter. But that is the issue. We are facing exactly the same challenges. We are being told all the time that the liturgy is the impediment to a vibrant faith and congregation, the hymns are driving people away and different music will bring them back, that the Church's doctrine must develop and change to keep up with what is going on in the culture around us or we will be judged irrelevant.
Rome is not the only church body threatened with and by these old passe ideas. We have had our own voices insistent that because of the times, things must change. And to be fair, that is true to a point. The way people communicate has changed. The family is under constant threat. The social media have led to individual isolation. The idea that there can be truth or that you can know it or that it matters is no longer a given. It is not your grandfather's church, to be sure, but the faith is the one thing that dare not change and the liturgy is the faith prayed on Sunday morning so when it changes, the faith changes. Until we learn this, Rome and Lutheranism will continue to be victims of our own desperation.
But the solution to our problems cannot be gleaned by setting up listening posts among the people who do not know Christ and who are not asking us any questions about Christ. We must learn to hear what they are saying but the Church will survive, grow, or die because we have confidence in and preach and teach faithfully the Word of God. In every case when we have second guessed God and tried to fix the problem on our own, the result has not been success but disaster. From Abraham and Sarah's fix to the problem of no heir to the Golden Calf that kept the Israelites busy while Moses was with God on the mountain, we have a history of disasters that came from fresh ideas that were stale rehashes of yesterday's failings. Now is no different. I am not saying that we must keep on doing what we have always done -- some things must and will change -- but we need to take care that we are not changing the one thing needful, the Word of the Lord, the creedal confession of fidelity before the world, the liturgical life that meets the Lord where He has pledged to be, and the Office of the Ministry which is itself a means of the means of grace (at least!).