I also recall a time in which pastors would openly laud how they wore down the resistance to ditching the liturgy for a manufactured order (usually without Holy Communion -- thank God!). Or how they got their enemies to leave so that the altar could be moved to the side and a praise band situated down front. Or how they convinced people to turn their attention to the screen and the pictures and words fed to it that medium by the worship planners. They were moving toward a goal and, though this congregation did not allow them to move their quickly, the parish seemed to take sips at becoming an ape of whatever was happening in the evangelical world at the moment. Perhaps those battles are fewer; I do not know. It does seem like the battle lines have now been entrenched for long enough so that neither side is making great progress against the other. It has become a somewhat peaceful co-existence -- albeit with some barking dogs (like me) still arguing.
There is another moment in Synod. It is a moment in which reverence is gaining ground -- if not among the proponents of contemporary Christian worship techniques and practices, then at least among those who were liturgical but not quite ceremonial. These are those who use the book but use it because they are Lutheran and that is custom even though they are not wedded in faith and piety to the liturgical life that book envisions. In these parishes, battles are still being fought about what people will accept and allow -- even in what the pastor does alone without asking the people to do anything! Many of these pastors are committed to celebrating the Eucharist as the Divine Service on every Sunday -- as prayerfully and reverently as he is allowed to do. This still means convincing elders and councils and voters' assemblies to let the pastor chant (even though this asks little of the folks in the pew) or to let the pastor wear Eucharistic vestments (even though this asks nothing of the folks in the pew). This still means convincing elders, council, and voters' assemblies to allow for a weekly Eucharist (even though this does not belong to anyone's voting franchise except the pastor's pastoral determination for the parish and consistency with our chief confession!). This still means convincing elders and councils and voters' assemblies to follow the rubrics of the hymnal (in parishes where I have filled in, the worst offenders were those who insisted that they did it by the book only to give me pages of instructions about how they did it here!). This still means convincing elders and councils and voters' assemblies that the pastor genuflecting is not Roman nor is his self-communion idolatry. Yes, I know of places where exactly this is what has had to happen.
We seem to want a reverence that is moderate and not excessive -- sort of like the casual and rational God we would want. But God is not casual nor does He condescend to our reason or understanding. The worship of this God in the Old Covenant was not moderate at all but excessive and God directed every detail of the temple right down to the vestments of the priests. Thankfully, we seem convinced that this God underwent a personality change in the New Covenant and is now pretty much good with whatever we decide, prefer, or find meaningful. Hopefully, we will not be shocked with the things of the Old Covenant forgotten in the New return with even more excessive reverence, ceremony, and profundity when Revelation becomes reality and what Christ began is completed for all eternity. How odd it is to think that there might be excessive reverence for the sake of a God who is wholly other and knowable only as He chooses to be known! Indeed, we look for a magical line between reverence and excessive reverence in the face of a God who is relentless in His pursuit of us that we might be His own and live under Him in His Kingdom forever. That line, my friends, does not exist. It is fake. It is false. It is a lie. The God who went all in for us cannot be offended by excessive reverence and devotion but He might be by our half-hearted attempts to be holy -- if only for an hour on Sunday morning. Inward reverence that refuses to show is not quite reverence and just might be embarrassment borne of a concern more of what others and the world thinks than what is fitting for the high and holy God who became our incarnate Savior. They go together or they don't go at all.