24 August 2006

An Old Service in a New Dress

I have to confess: when I first heard that LSB was including a Service of Prayer and Preaching, I thought: Why? I mean, if we have the Eucharist every Lord's Day, and if we use the Daily Prayer Offices of the Church (Matins, Vespers, Compline), why would we need any other preaching service? But a careful examination of the *Service of Prayer and Preaching* suggests that it might be misnamed. What we have here is nothing but a modern version of the old Lutheran Catechism service.

Yes, Catechism SERVICE. For many years after the Reformation, Catechism was not thought of as a "text book" for a "class room" but as a "prayer book" for worship. There was a regular liturgy for it, featuring the singing of hymns, the recitation of the primary texts of the Catechism, and then the back and forth on one of the explanations of the chief part being discussed that day. The preacher would then give instruction on that chief part and wrap the whole thing up with prayer.

If you look under the hood, that's exactly what *Service of Prayer and Preaching* is:

Hymn
Opening Versicles
Old Testament Canticle (Isaiah 12 - a very catechetical canticle!)
Scripture Readings and Responsory
Recitation of Ten Commandments, Creed, and Our Father
Responsive Reading of a Section of the Catechism
Sermon or Catechetical Instruction
Prayer (Litany and the Collect of the Day and for the Word)
Optional Morning or Evening Prayer
New Testament Canticle (Romans 6 - again, all wet with Baptismal water!)
Blessing

What amazing things could happen among us if we moved our Catechetical experience from the classroom (open head, dump in knowledge, test and voila! A Christian!), to the Church, returning it to a context of the presence of God and prayer! The outcome of such catechesis being not the knowledge that puffs up, but the humility of a repentant heart learning to cling to the promises of God in Christ.

I'm ready to go for it. Anyone else?

5 comments:

Jim Roemke said...

Count me in! I'm dreaming of the day when I can have regular catechetical services. What better way to learn and live a life in the grace of Christ?

Jim Roemke said...

I had a great opportunity to do this on my vicarage when my supervisor approved my proposal to focus the lenten midweek services on the six chief parts of the Small Catechism. It was great! I had so many people comment that it was helpful to them, especially adult converts who had been denied the privilege of going through the Small Catechism. The more catechism the better!

tutal said...

Would you suggest this be incorporated as the structure for confirmation class/catechesis? Of course this would be a drastic change from our familiar catechetical experience. I could see this working very well as such:

The SoP&P is used as the primary corporate catechetical instruction.

If confirmation were to be retained and done in group fashion, catechumens would be required to attend along with their parent or sponsor if their parents neglected their duties.

The family, hopefully the father, would be responsible in making sure his child knew and understands the SC.

This would then be reinforced through the SoP&P.

Ryan Schroeder said...

This sounds like a most excellent thing to be doing. Perhaps this could be tried during a Bible class time. It is still definitely a teaching tool and something that all Christians would benefit from. I also think that Worship would bring the truths learned through catechesis into a sharper focus.

Chaz said...

As you know, Saint Paul's is ready made for such an approach!

You could conduct the service of prayer and preaching on Mondays and Tuesdays for the 5th through 8th graders while Fr. Curtis could do it on Thursdays and Fridays (or whatever way yer divvying it up this year).

Since you already do public school catechesis on Sundays, you could do the afternoon/evening service for the public school kids only make it a more extended version.

You could use the Bender binder for the propers, etc. and to make sure that you cover all necessary catechetical matters in your preachment.

I wish you'd come up with this idea a year ago. ;-)