Rome has complicated the whole thing with its turn against the Extraordinary Form. They have established a tradition of preference and narrowed their uniformity to a particular expression of their tradition. They have advocates of the oldest form who disdain the legacy of Vatican II as promulgated by Bugnini and Paul VI. There is one tradition that is sanctioned and that is it. So Rome has an internal battle going on. Lutherans are also in danger of it. Some among us have decided that the 1941 hymnal represents the gold standard and that the order which owes its roots to the modern liturgical movement is suspect. Worship wars have fought over the forms for too long. This long ago ceased to be a skirmish over forms and is instead a battle for the heart and soul of Christianity.
There is a greater enemy. The enemy is not uniformity but diversity -- a diversity in which a confession no longer has any integrity or power over what happens on Sunday morning. Whether or not you are sympathetic for diversity or uniformity, you must admit that Christianity cannot have multiple faces on Sunday morning. There is a place for adjustment to local circumstance, to be sure. No particular place or time is the pristine moment or golden era to be repristinated upon one congregation or another. But there must be enough uniformity so that the family identity shines through. Whether you call it the ordo or any other term, the reality is that there is a basic shape and form, a pattern of words, and an identity that connects through time. What is done locally is not simply a matter of not departing from this ordo but also not conflicting with it. This means not only the integrity of form but also the music and ceremonial cannot compete with the form. It needs to work together like a seamless garment -- the readings appointed, the preaching, the hymns, the Eucharist. So often these things betray themselves and the whole, acting as disjointed preferences.
Rigid uniformity is the straw man laid up against those who hold to the liturgy. In reality it is the diverse who are rigid in their uniformity that in worship nothing really matters because nothing is really happening at all. It is merely the moment, merely the preference, merely the pleasure, merely the entertainment. It is as if we were entertaining ourselves to death -- oh, wait, somebody else beat me to that phrase. That is what Rome missed and what we Lutherans have overlooked. The screen can only replace in person if nothing is real and nothing is really there to receive -- if it lives only in the imagination or in the feelings of the heart. That is what threatens us. This is the most rigid uniformity of all. It is all about me.