It was clear from the conversation that adiaphora meant that these practices could and probably should be discarded at whim as soon as anyone says they do not like them and that the best part of pastoral discretion was to listen to the one or the several bothered by such. In fact, it seemed as if the sometimes Lutheran position of downsizing everything liturgical and ceremonial and the liturgical principle of the simpler the better ought to prevail. But the dreaded adiaphora word is being used wrongly. Adiaphora may mean that consciences cannot be bound to these for purposes of salvation but adiaphora certainly does not mean that they are unimportant. The Augsburg Confession insists that ceremonies teach and that teaching is not adiaphora even though the ceremonies might be. Therefore, they are not unimportant but very important. Art, music, ritual, ceremony, and the like are not such things as we can bind people's salvation to but they are important enough to promote even when there might not be universal appreciation. Furthermore, ceremonies confess (like art and music) and this confession is not unimportant. By the way, the elimination of ceremonies, even those addressed by rubric, was mentioned as a helpful thing to appeal to a diversity of tastes and to keep from the terrible problem of rote recitation that forgets what the liturgy says. So, less is more and more is always less.
That is the part of Lutheranism I cannot abide. Furthermore, I do not at all think it is a legitimate expression of or the basic teaching of Lutheranism. Lutheranism, according to our Confessions, always gives the nod to keeping rather than omitting. That is at least the teaching of the Augustana. We are conservative and we do conserve. We are not into wholesale remodeling of the mass but in keeping everything that can be kept -- even adiaphora! In the end, it is this false understanding of indifference to art, music, and ceremony that gives birth to the false dichotomy between style and substance -- something fully exploited by those who have decided that Lutheran liturgy and hymnody is not helping us win people for Jesus. Who does not love Jesus enough to sacrifice the hymnal and our liturgical confession and heritage to win just one more soul from the dark side? But this is a straw man and a false distinction. Furthermore, unless you are an aging boomer, it is the younger generation who truly do appreciate the fuller liturgical and ceremonial of the Divine Service.
It is like those who love to say that ordination is not divine mandate but apostolic custom. Really? That is how little importance that we attach to apostolic custom? I would think that such a statement also belies some serious problems with Biblical witness and authority. The same could be true of those who think that God somehow had a lobotomy and decided that the worship life of the old covenant was too liturgical, too ceremonial, and had too much incense and with the new covenant in Christ all of that was ditched as so much baggage. Not quite what Jesus said about fulfilling that old covenant. Jesus did not disparage the old covenant but kept it and observed it with the inner devotion of the heart and the outward reverence of the body that He did not find in the people of that covenant (both sides of the altar rail, so to speak). Finally, look at Revelation and tell me that ceremony, symbolism, liturgy, reverence, and, well, I will go ahead and say it, incense, is passe and not the shape of the future.
Come on, Lutherans, if we are Biblical then let us be Biblical. I am not one to ram down the throats of the unappreciative or uninformed rules that they must follow but neither should the unappreciative or uninformed have the right to force the pastor to a liturgical minimalism that fits their taste but does not flow from the Lutheran Confessions. The interesting thing here is that 90% of all that is objected to of adiaphora are things that the pastor does but not things asked of those in the pews. Ah, well. I feel better now. If you do not, perhaps it is because you are one of those who think adiaphora means unimportant and apostolic custom can be taken with a whim and the worship of the old covenant and the vision of Revelation are irrelevant to what happens on Sunday mornings now. If you are, I am sad for you.