Friday, August 5, 2022

Reaping the harvest...

When I was in the log cabin seminary so long ago, we had at least three homiletics courses -- preaching, for those for whom homiletics is an unfamiliar word.  That included the use of preaching textbookss (in my case one by H. Grady Davis, among others).  It involved a bit of reading sermons.  It required practice preaching with the class and the instructor as both the hearers and evaluators.  Then, after vicarage, there was a final review and update.  It was all well and good because preaching is important.  Incidentally, although most vicars tend to preach a dozen or fifteen times a year, my own circumstance required me to preach at least 3 times a week.  Some vicars are on their own in parishes without pastors and they preach at least weekly.  Some come back to the sem for their final year with more experience than others.  But every new pastor enters the parish with the daunting task of regular preaching to the same people over a long period of time.  Good preaching requires good preparation.

Why is it that we do not believe the same thing about worship?  In my day, only one class on worship was required with other electives possible.  I hope it is better but I doubt if more than two classes are required and the curriculums now hold out few opportunities to plug in electives.  Could it be that some of the crisis we face in terms of what happens on Sunday morning is due to the lack of preparation given to the seminarians?  By this I mean the lack of understanding of the theology of worship as well as the liturgical forms themselves.  It seems too easy to be deceived into making worship a program with a purpose and an end like any other program and therefore manipulated toward the goals desired.  It should be that the theology of worship supplied in seminary would raise the needed and legitimate questions for such a pursuit.  Unfortunately, that is not quite true.  Even when the hymnal is used and the traditional forms employed, this is not quite a full affirmation of the tie between what is believed and confessed and how it is practiced than it is a routine inherited and continued but left largely without much explanation.

Most of the worship books used are older (Luther Reed's classic volumes among many others) but the book put out to accompany Lutheran Worship came out late and is already out of print.  Now, a full 16 years after the introduction of Lutheran Service Book we finally have a text to use to train those who will not only lead the Divine Service but also explain and teach it to those in the pew.  It is way past time for us to have a solid Lutheran textbook introducing liturgical theology and way past time to expect at least as many on worship in the seminary as there are for preaching.  This fruits of our shallow preparation have come back to roost in our Synod in the diversity of liturgical practice that too frequently have no real connection to what is believed or confessed.  We have effectively devolved into a personal preference mentality in which the liturgy is merely one of many different but legitimate choices.  On top of that, many have judged the hymnal more as a boundary to prevent additional ceremonies or liturgical practices instead of a minimal expectation of a Lutheran worshiper of a Divine Service in a Lutheran parish.  So we have a maximum beyond which one is discouraged from going while at the same time refusing to let the hymnal be the minimal expectation of someone coming to worship in the LCMS.

Of course, the modeling of worship is vitally important and this is why the chapel is the beating heart of a seminary campus and one of the reasons the online cannot replace the residential training of our clergy.  What our seminarians see on a daily basis in their gathering around the Word and Table of the Lord is itself an informal method of training and equipping them for their own task.  As important as this is, it should not be expected to replace formal academic preparation.  I received the same amount of training for counseling as I did for worship (required courses) when I was in seminary -- yet I am not a counselor or therapist and never will be but I am and will always be a presider and preacher (at least until death or retirement!).   If our Synod is to make real  headway here, we need to reconsider how we equip our pastors to lead God's people in the Divine Service as well as how we train them for the preaching task.


Anonymous said...

I believe that the Synod financed a video on the form of the Divine Service which I assume is used in teaching liturgical practice in the seminaries. The weakness of the training video is that it is unclear which Lutheran liturgical tradition is used as the model for the video: 1536 Wittenberg, 1539 Saxon, 17th century Magdeburg, or more likely some other blend of LSB with a maximalist approach of practices drawn from the most elaborate church orders. In Wittenberg there was no procession, as many LCMS churches practice today. Latin was used extensively as the language of the church and education, which is of course no longer the case nor possible to reintroduce. The distribution formula of Magdeburg was probably the same as that of Saxony, since the LCMS has preserved the tradition of distribution accompanied by the words “Take and eat, this is the true Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, given into death for you; the which strengthen and sustain you in true faith unto life everlasting; Take and drink, this is the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, shed for our sins; the which strengthen and sustain you unto life everlasting." Bells were rung at the consecration, so I suppose CPH could start selling communion bells on their website, but censing the altar seems to not have been practiced at Wittenberg and Saxony whereas it was in Magdeburg. The elevation was discontinued at Wittenberg and there is no recorded tradition of post-consecration genuflection. Chasubles in use during Luther’s day seem to have been replaced in Saxony with use of the surplice. If you want to make the case that real Lutherans wear chasubles like Luther, that’s fine, but the Saxon church didn’t seem to stress about it.

I suppose my point is that we seem to have trouble recognizing that even our Bronze Age past preserved these Saxon liturgical traditions. Any LCMS congregation is of course free to be more maximalist, but the problem here is that the maximalism is based upon an idea of what we would like the Augsburg Confession to mean by all the usual ceremonies rather than an inherited tradition of what all the usual ceremonies meant to actual Lutheran churches. And yes, the Saxon liturgical tradition is privileged over more minimal or maximal approaches. The living tradition that we do have is LSB. And LSB is not all that maximalist. And whether you recognize it or not, maximalizing LSB creates as much difference in worship as does not insisting on the use of LSB as a basic worship expectation.

Pastor Peters said...

Quote: "what we would like the Augsburg Confession to mean by all the usual ceremonies rather than an inherited tradition of what all the usual ceremonies meant to actual Lutheran churches..."

Except that the Augsburg Confession predates the inherited tradition that developed along city or territorial lines long afterward. Augustana does not bother to define the usual ceremonies -- why? Could it be that the Lutherans were not quite Lutheran at this time -- at least how eventual institutional Lutheranism developed long after the majority of Lutheran confessional documents were written?

Maximalizing does not divide the way contemporary worship does since among the maximalists all follow the ordo or pattern of the Divine Service, largely word for word from the hymnal with small additions to the rite recovering what was lost and with ceremonies that sign what the rite itself says. So, no, it is not the same kind of diversity. It is more the difference between eating only dessert as your meal (contemporary Christian worship with its saccharine sweetness) vs a real meal of meat, veggies, potatoes, etc... The maximalist differs in the meat -- say prime rib vs chuck roast -- not in the essence of the meal.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this priceless account from 1536 Wittenberg is what we could all agree constitutes a Confessional Lutheran worship service governed by the Augsburg Confession:

“At 7:00 we entered the church [in Eisenach] where the Office of the Mass, as they call it, was held in the following manner:
First the boys and the headmaster sang the Introit for Cantate Sunday in Latin, set apart in the chancel in an entirely papistical fashion. Then came the Kyrie eleison with the organ being played in alternation. Thirdly a deacon, dressed entirely according to the papistical fashion and standing by the altar, which was likewise adorned with candles and other things, sang in Latin “Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Glory to God in the highest); this canticle the choir and organist again completed. When this was finished the deacon sang a collect, as they call it, in German, facing the altar with his back turned toward the congregation, and appended a reading from the Epistle of James, facing the congregation, also in German. Again the organ was played while the choir sang, “Victimae paschali” and the congregation sang responsively, “Christ ist erstanden!” Upon this the deacon sang a portion of the Gospel in German, “But now I am going to Him who sent Me,” etc. (John 16:5), while facing the congregation. After this reading the organ was played as the congregation sang, “We All Believe in One True God.” When this was finished Justus Menius preached, dressed in the usual manner [in a black academic robe], not in any special [ecclesiastical] robe.
After the sermon the deacon, standing at the altar in priestly garb, exhorted the people to prayer for some particularly enumerated concerns and closed with Christ’s promise: “Whatever you ask the Father,” etc. (John 15:16, 16:23). Next he briefly recalled the institution of the Lord’s Supper, then he sang the Words of Institution first over the bread, whereby he elevated it entirely according to the papistical fashion while genuflecting away from the people; then over the chalice, which he likewise elevated after finishing the Words of Institution. When this was over the organ played and the choir sang the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). Meanwhile Communion began. A deacon dressed in the usual manner administered the chalice. Not a single man was seen going to Communion, but a few little women were communed. Following this, the deacon communed himself at the altar, after having first adored the bread, although he did not do so with the chalice. This he carefully emptied and then washed with newly poured wine, so that nothing of the blood remained. After Communion he sang a prayer while facing the altar. When this was finished he dismissed the people with a benediction that he sang while facing them. Finally, as the congregation left the church the choir sang Da pacem, Domine in German. And with that this celebration was ended.”

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was Eisenach. This is Wittenberg:

“At the seventh hour we returned to the city church [in Wittenberg] and observed by which rite they celebrated the Liturgy; namely thus: First, the Introit was played on the organ, accompanied by the choir in Latin, as in the mass offering. Indeed, the minister meanwhile proceeded from the sacristy dressed sacrificially [in traditional mass vestments] and, kneeling before the altar, made his confession together with the assisting sacristan. After the confession he ascended to the altar to the book that was located on the right side, according to papist custom. After the Introit the organ was played and the Kyrie eleison sung in alternation by the boys. When it was done the minister sang Gloria in excelsis, which song was completed in alternation by the organ and choir. Thereafter the minister at the altar sang “Dominus vobiscum,” the choir responding “Et cum spiritu tuo.” The Collect for that day followed in Latin, then he sang the Epistle in Latin, after which the organ was played, the choir following with Herr Gott Vater, wohn uns bei. When it was done the Gospel for that Sunday was sung by the minister in Latin on the left side of the altar, as is the custom of the adherents of the pope. After this the organ played, and the choir followed with Wir glauben all an einen Gott. After this song came the sermon, which [Martin] Bucer delivered on the Gospel for that Sunday in the presence of [Martin] Luther and Philipp [Melanchthon]. After the sermon the choir sang Da pacem domine, followed by the prayer for peace by the minister at the altar, this in Latin as well. The communion followed, which the minister began with the Lord’s Prayer sung in German. Then he sang the words of the Supper, and these in German with his back turned toward the people, first those of the bread, which, when the words had been offered, he then elevated to the sounding of bells; likewise with the chalice, which he also elevated to the sounding of bells. Immediately communion was held. [Johann Bugenhagen] Pomeranus went first, then Fabricius Capito, and after him Bucer. During the communion the Agnus Dei was sung in Latin. The minister served the bread in common dress but [the minister who served] the chalice dressed sacrificially [i.e. in mass vestments]. They followed the singing of the Agnus Dei with a German song: Jesus Christus [unser Heiland] and Gott sei gelobet. After the sermon the majority of the people departed. Even Luther himself, because he felt dizzy during the communion, had to leave attended by Philipp. The minister ended the communion with a certain thanksgiving sung in German. He followed this, facing the people, with the Benediction, singing “The Lord make his face to shine on you, etc.” And thus was the mass ended.”

Padre Dave Poedel said...

I did my part when a Vicar at a parish that is very wide in liturgical practice…I gave him a set of chasubles and donated my censer, stand, incense and all to the Chapel at the SL Seminary. I assume the gift was received, though never acknowledged (I am not concerned about that).

I guess we all try to di what we can….