16 February 2011

A Conversation Today

reminded me of a conversation held many years ago with another friend.  He was opining that pastors really just gravitate to the sorts of services that they themselves prefer.  They shape their congregations that way, he thought.  I told him that I disagreed, and he was surprised.  He assumed that the way we worship at St. Paul's was the way *I* preferred to worship.  Actually, it is not.  If I had my druthers, we'd swing incense every week and all the music would be like Rachmaninov's heavenly stuff and believe it or not - no organ.

But as I told him, I'd choose over my preferences to worship instead according to any of the orders in our hymnal with their sweet incense of the Gospel shining through in the words of our liturgy.  It's a better choice to me to go with music I don't find nearly as appealing as Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil but which delivers the Gospel solidly to me than to ask Mary to save me, however sweetly it is sung.

You see, I follow the Liturgy of LSB not because it is my preference; it's not.  I follow it because I know now matter how badly I may screw up in the sermon, the liturgy will still clearly deliver to the congregation the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.  "For You alone are holy, You only are the Lord, Forever and forever be worshipped and adored!"

I can't trust my own preferences; I've found from experience I can trust the liturgies and hymns in our Hymnal to deliver the Gospel itself, the one thing needful.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

As pastors we underestimate the
ability of hymns to proclaim the
gospel. Hymn selection is a very
important part in preparing for our
worship services. One hymn not in
our 2006 hymnal is "To God Be The
Glory" I have used this hymn for
many special occasions including
parish anniversaries. as well as
regular services. This particular
hymn is all gospel and the laity
sing it with gusto.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Too often people think being a pastor is about making things the way you want them to be. Being a pastor is truly about learning to squash yourself and your desires so that Christ may be proclaimed more and more.

The simple fact is in my "ideal" Church, there'd be around 5 different pastors doing the various things, and I wouldn't be one of them - for I know my own flaws. Ah well.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

William,
If you like Russian chant I recommend the recordings from the Russian Patriarchal Cathedral at Ennismore Gardens in London, esp. the ones with the Russo-Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda leading. Sublime. They used to be available from Ikon Records (I think) and probably still are. Great music, not so great doctrine...a great pity, no doubt about it.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Yep, still available:
http://www.ikon-records.com/

Past Elder said...

Rachmaninoff? Did someone say Rachmaninoff?

I don't know how many recordings of the Second Rach my dad bought when I was growing up. The piano concerto was his favourite genre -- along with Dixieland Jazz. (Yes, I am second generation at Classical and Jazz, all pre Wynton when it became cool.)

As dad did not like singing, the All Night Vigil was unheard growing up at home. But it is deeply Russian Orthodox and there ain't no "correcting" it.

I would make a terrible pastor, and an even worse music director. As an emsemble player, play what the ensemble plays; if you don't want to do that, why are you in the ensemble? But as a solo performer, no requests; you don't want to hear what I play, hire someone else for the gig.

Music lives its own life. That is why composers and performers can compose and perform church music while they themselves are entirely non-observant religiously. It is also why the same deep affect religious people report from religious music other people report from secular music.

Which is a phenomenon to be handled carefully, lest a musical experience replicable in non religious music too be confused with a spiritual experience, or a concert be mistaken for worship or worship for a concert.

I think the greatest performance I was ever in in my life was to be part of the performance of Die Auferstehungssymphonie at the dedication of Hancher Auditorium. Which has nothing to do with resurrection in a Christian sense. I think part of my tonsils are still on the back wall, unless the recent floods washed them away. And would have been on my living room wall too, when Arts channel played a Bernstein performance of it, and I found that 35 some years later I remembered the bass part herrlich wie am ersten Tag, so zu sagen, oder so Goethe sagt. But as the boys were asleep, I held it down.

melxiopp said...

If you don't trust yourself, why do you trust modern (and relatively modern) writers of the LSB? The answer, of course, is because it agrees with Scripture, the Book of Concord, the history of the Church, etc. but that's in the eye of the beholder. Who is to be trusted is just kicked around a little until a source is found that/who is "preferred".

William Weedon said...

Not at all. I don't trust myself. I do trust the collective wisdom of many brothers and sisters who are able to see precisely what I might miss; as I might see what they might miss. When St. Paul wrote that we have the mind of Christ, I think he meant it. But it's in the we. So we listen to each other as we seek to persuade one another from the Word. And that's exactly what the process of putting the hymnal together was all about.

Cha said...

Always have to get your dig in, don't you?

melxiopp said...

Even there, that simply sets up a situation where 'we' is defined as one 'prefers'. I know what you are saying, it's still a matter of choice, though. Greater, self-selecting collective numbers don't guarantee anything more than does your own, solo preference.

melxiopp said...

I think you are assuming I am someone I am not.

Cha said...

Sorry for the misunderstanding, this response was for Pr. Weedon.

William Weedon said...

Cha, I'm sorry that it came across that way. Was not meant to be a dig - it's obviously an area where we understand each other and disagree with each other. No problema, then.

Just trying to explain why I don't simply run by my preference for that heavenly sounding music. Driving home the point that a Lutheran pastor doesn't always and oughtn't ever shape things merely to "their liking." In many ways, what I like is utterly irrelevant...and so is what you like! :)

melxiopp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Weedon said...

Melxiopp,

In an absolute sense you are correct; but in the practical living out of the Christian faith, I think you're wrong. The faith is a "we" thing and so listening to the fellow Christian is vital. But no more time at the moment to go into this. My last presentation for the retreat MUST be finished today and I'm not done yet. Later!

David Garner said...

I'm having a quite similar discussion with a friend on the exact same issue, Pastor Weedon. My take was it's not about preference, but catholicity. It's not that the Church should structure the liturgy around what everyone likes, but that the Church writ large should have agreement and concord on what the liturgy should look like and what forms are used. Obviously, there is freedom in that -- I've been to more Lutheran common services in more parishes than I could count, and each differed in the particulars. But the gist of the liturgy was the same in all.

I've also been in those, as you know, where the liturgy was unrecognizable -- a hodge-podge of various liturgical forms that someone crammed together. In that sense, even though it was conservative and "liturgical," it still was not catholic.

christl242 said...

I can't trust my own preferences; I've found from experience I can trust the liturgies and hymns in our Hymnal to deliver the Gospel itself, the one thing needful.

Having experienced what happened when I trusted my own preferences I couldn't agree more. May I never again forget that "one thing needful" which is so joyfully present in the liturgies and hymns in our Hymnal.

Christine

Dixie said...

I don't know Pastor Weedon...it's a hard sell. You frequently write of your great love for the hymns of the Lutheran church and the deep joy it gives you to sing them. I can't buy it for one minute that you would prefer another form of worship. You love those hymns. You love singing them. You love the words. You love what they teach. You may want more incense but I don't believe you really want Rachmaninoff. If you did I don't think you could write so passionately about the Lutheran hymns as you do.

Your point is well made...we don't / shouldn't start out preferring our worship style. However, I believe that if we experience our worship as true, it ultimately becomes our preference (well--I still haven't gotten to the point that I prefer Greek over Russian Chant...that Byzantine sound is pretty foreign on Western ears. Someday maybe....)

William Weedon said...

Dixie,

Oh, totally. For the HYMNS. I love them so very much. But I do not have the same affection AT ALL for the music of the Lutheran Liturgy. It's eeh. At least as we have in LSB. It's serviceable, but compared to All Night Vigil? Get real!

Past Elder said...

Man, as I came to treasure the Common Service (coming from the novus ordo and the "Tridentine" Mass) I also came to treasure the music in them. And the version in LSB, incognito as DSIII, is excellent.

As it is though, if it were not for my time in WELS, I would never have heard the Common Service, text or music, at all.

Melxiopp has a point. It's preference at the group rather than individual scale. The growth of the liturgy is one thing, and a thing not overseen by this or that committee of scholars or churchmen. The BOC is clear that we retain that. Paring that living tradition of its non-Scriptural accretions is not the same thing as a committee cutting and pasting a pastiche of a little of this, a little of that, five services, two lectionaries, two calendars, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Hey, I sit right in front of the organ. Maybe one of these Sundays I'll sneak back there and toss in a Dresden Amen -- as the conclusion to "Jesus Dropped The Charges".

William Weedon said...

Terry,

I think there's no way around this: Melxiopp (I assume) correctly notes that "greater self-selecting collective numbers don't guarantee anything more than your own solo performance." But I'm not talking about a guarantee, but a likelihood - and this is where Proverbs points us: Without counsel plans fail; but with many advisers they succeed. And my contention is that the proof on this one is in the pudding: anyone who attends a Divine Service conducted from LSB, most certainly WILL hear the Gospel, even if the sermon fails at delivering it. Does anyone really dispute that contention???

melxiopp said...

I"m really just arguing against this as any real 'proof'. It's colloquially, casually true that counsel and consensus is better, but it then immediately begs the question about why the LCMS can't generally cooperate internally, much less with WELS/ELS, ELCA, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, etc. That is, one has to be careful about arguing that because we all come together we will have a better, safer result. It leads straight down the path toward ecumenism on the one side and conversion to more 'patristic' churches on the other.

William Weedon said...

More patristic begs the question, of course. But would you not concede the point that a person attending a liturgy conducted precisely out of LSB would indeed hear the blessed Gospel - and of that one may be sure?

melxiopp said...

In the context of the point at hand, "a person attending a liturgy conducted precisely out of LSB would indeed hear the blessed Gospel" as understood by the preferred persons editing the LSB. That's the point. A large group of preferred persons says about the same thing as one's individual preferences do. That's not to say one does or does not get a good product (Gospel) or not.

Patristic is probably better replaced with historic. There are all sorts of things that were obvious pieces of pre-Reformation Christianity that Lutheranism (especially in modern day) has done away with. While you argue many of those things should be returned to Lutheran practice, it is still true that if one wants to look at a 'consensus' of these sorts of things, then one will likely begin looking away from a 2-3MM person denomination based in MO. For Lutherans, 'consensus' as a standard should be avoided apart from its usefulness in typical, everyday, secular decision making. Appealing to a consensus in Church matters is asking for trouble.

William Weedon said...

If I believe that, i wouldn't BE a Lutheran. And you did not answer the question. Do you not believe that the Gospel itself IS confessed clearly in the Divine Services as set forth in LSB???

melxiopp said...

The doctrine of the Lutheran Church is clearly taught in the LSB. That was never my point, though. It's the reasoning against personal preference in favor of a preferred group selected by oneself (and one's preferences) as the basis for anything more than the principle that "two heads are better than one" - though even that doesn't give certainty or even probability, just a likelihood that a subjectively 'better' result will be had.

William Weedon said...

Let me be clear, I am asking for your PERSONAL JUDGMENT on the text of the Divine Services in LSB. I'm a Lutheran. I'm not allergic to the concept of personal judgment. :)

I know it is something which every individual must exercise - even if it is by deciding which body of water they are intending to swim.

So my question to you is whether or not what YOU hold to be the Gospel is confessed in LSB's Divine Services. Because for the life of me, I can't see an Orthodox or Roman Christian objecting that they fail to proclaim the Gospel - which (surely? surely???) we all admit is that Jesus is the Lamb of God, given out of the Father's love, to provide us with salvation - redemption, the forgiveness of sins - a salvation delivered in the Holy Spirit that restores us to communion with the Blessed Trinity, forgiving us and renewing us.

Past Elder said...

Well, that was the whole point of addressing the multiplicity of practices pre-Reformation, that in such a situation the entire reason of having liturgy at all is lost and people "do not learn what they need to know about Christ" as the AC puts it.

We addressed it in our way and Rome in theirs; that is precisely what the Tridentine Rite was, an attempt to address the Reformers' valid concern about laxity without incorporating Reformers' "errors".

Either way, the idea being a liturgy in which the Gospel is set forth regardless of the abilities of the celebrant.

But, what that Gospel is, is not the same between the two.

And, consensus on doctrine is an entirely different matter than consensus on doctrine-in-motion, ie liturgy.

Also, consensus of the church is not the same as consensus of a committee.

I don't think Lutheran doctrine in motion has anything to be gained by incorporating or adapting liturgy that results from an RC attempt to address its own concerns (novus ordo) any more than incorporating or adapting liturgy or non-liturgical worship from "evangelical" sources that attract great numbers.

Pastor Peters said...

I see we responded in a similar manner on our respective blogs to the conversation on the other forum we sometimes frequent...

William Weedon said...

Fr. Peters, I noted that with amusement this a.m.! We definitely track along the same lines in our thought so often that I just have to regard you as my long-lost brother...

Chris said...

I had no idea you were such a Rachmaninov buff, Fr. Weedon. As i am in the Greek tradition, I prefer the Byzantine psaltic chant, but to each his own.

If I could have had Lutheranism done "my way" it would have been Bach, Praetorius and Schutz, week in, week out.

Past Elder said...

Too much about music in all this about music.

Chant has an entirely different nature than "music" as in hymns etc. In fact, hymns et al arose when chant lost that nature and music took over. If chant is beautiful music, then it is bad chant, or chant done badly.

Chant is not music. It is a form of speech, a sprechstimme, in which the "music" is entirely subservient to the text, which it serves to express. The closest thing to it in modern usage is hooping in sermons. Even the Psalter is not the Psalter; it is just the lyrics from the Psalter, the rest is lost.

Hymns, or what became hymns, began when that was no longer enough, and other lines were improvised over the voice that held (tenor) the original chant. That's the mot or word in motet, zum B. Music took over. Expressiveness in musical word setting is not the same thing as the way in which tone serves text in chant.

So now, we have both chant, and music that is made over chant, or centuries later developments of that, such as hymns, and all of it gets heard and judged as music, whereas chant is a music-like form of speech.

Which is also why we have organists who can play Bach all day, but can't accompany a sermon or even think of doing such a thing.

David Garner said...

melxiopp, as a convert to one of those "more patristic" traditions myself, I'm not sure you don't have your cart before your horse.

We converted precisely because of a lack of catholicity among Lutherans. Which is to say, each doing as he darn well pleased. Had we been able to find even one Lutheran congregation in our area that remained with what the Lutheran Church had given them in the form of liturgical rites and doctrine, we'd have never looked elsewhere.

From where I stand (which is to say, as a confessional Lutheran who grew weary after years of trying to find other confessional Lutherans around), your premise is exactly backwards. You seem to be saying "if we place too much emphasis on being catholic (that is, whole, complete, unified), our people will end up seeking other traditions which are 'more catholic'" on the one hand, or "our people will end up being an ecumenical 'kumbaya' group" on the other. But my story is the opposite -- if we'd found even one parish that remained Lutheran in its true, Western Catholic sense, we'd have never looked elsewhere and would have had no need to seek another tradition.

I firmly believe that if Lutherans are to keep their own, you must do as Pastor Weedon does and as he is suggesting here. Maintaining catholicity is the surest way to prevent that which concerns you. The issue with ecumenism can be dealt rather simply with by maintaining right doctrine (i.e., by NOT conceding ground to sectarian worship forms).

If I'm misreading you, I apologize. I acknowledge I may have just spent 5 paragraphs flogging a strawman, and in fact I hope that is the case.

Past Elder said...

Well Mr Garner, whether you have read melxiopp correctly or not, I agree with you re the future of Lutheranism.

Now if only we would quit thinking a "catholicity" or tradition that dates back no further than 1960s Rome and its council and has since been adopted by other heterodox Western mainline bodies with liturgical leanings is in any way part of the catholicity the Lutheran Reformation sought to continue.

Once the door was opened to that, it was opened however unintentionally to everything else too to be a new option.

christl242 said...

I firmly believe that if Lutherans are to keep their own, you must do as Pastor Weedon does and as he is suggesting here. Maintaining catholicity is the surest way to prevent that which concerns you. The issue with ecumenism can be dealt rather simply with by maintaining right doctrine (i.e., by NOT conceding ground to sectarian worship forms).

A wise observation with the caveat that Confessional Lutherans not confuse [C]atholic with [c]atholic. Personal experience was a great teacher in showing me the difference.

Christine

David Garner said...

A wise observation with the caveat that Confessional Lutherans not confuse [C]atholic with [c]atholic. Personal experience was a great teacher in showing me the difference.

Christine


True, nor should anyone else outside the Roman See.

I think there's a lot of room in the Lutheran rites to allow differences in piety. Unfortunately, this is too often used as license to do whatever we please. The lack of catholicity I refer to is not whether one uses a censer or wears a chasuble or uses a processional crucifix. It is whether -- regardless of whether one uses those or not -- the rites and ceremonies in use among Lutherans in communion with one another are substantially similar. Fully understanding the Confessions state that rites and ceremonies may differ from place to place, nonetheless, Lutheran catholicity from a Confessional standpoint still revolves around a common tradition. The Augsburg Confession states the two principles as follows:

if there were some difference, there should be proper lenity on the part of bishops to bear with us by reason of the Confession which we have now reviewed; because even the Canons are not so severe as to demand the same rites everywhere, neither, at any time, have the rites of all churches been the same; although, among us, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed. For it is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies, all the things instituted of old, are abolished in our churches.

The principle at work here can be summarized as "we do not demand uniformity in rites and ceremonies; nonetheless, we maintain the traditional rites diligently as our catholic heritage." Which is not to say those rites cannot change from time-to-time, but it is to say that when they do, the Church writ large ought to be the entity changing them, not the local parish doing whatever it wishes over and against the Church writ large.

melxiopp said...

David, in the short term I think you are exactly right. It could be argued that the impetus to looking elsewhere comes from change period rather than simply change to something either new or old. Change opens one up to offering a criticism, an opinion, and this quickly moves to offering the same for things beyond the liturgical. Continuity over time - tradition - keeps one from looking askance at other churches; this is almost an unconscious fact of ecclesial momentum ("an object at rest..."). In short, ditching the old hymnal was the start of losing far more people than ever would have been lost if a new hymnal hadn't have been adopted. LSB looks to rectify this going forward.

I am arguing that using catholicity or conciliarity as something of an 'authoritative' rationale in deciding such things will in the longer term lead people to wonder why catholicity ends with the people I choose to associate myself with. That is, there's little difference between me trusting my own individual preferences and me trusting my own group preferences. If catholicity is a guard against my own fallen presumptions within a Lutheran denomination, that rationale quickly o'erleaps to all Lutheranism, all Protestantism, all Christianity - especially when more ancient forms (the catholicity of time) are better and more fully retained elsewhere or when more 'results' are seen in other denominations.

David Garner said...

In short, ditching the old hymnal was the start of losing far more people than ever would have been lost if a new hymnal hadn't have been adopted. LSB looks to rectify this going forward.

That may be so, and I confess I have never cracked open an LSB. I understand DS3 is the Common Service, and I understand DS5 is the Deutsche Messe. I am unfamiliar with DS1, DS2 and DS4. But I'll also state that while I think CW (the hymnal we used in our WELS parish) is perhaps the worst Lutheran hymnal in use among the three confessional synods, we didn't leave because CW was inferior, but rather because it was not used in any real sense. The liturgies were basically cobbled together from various settings in the hymnal rather than just using the settings as they were prescribed.

From where I stand (and this is the realm of personal observation and experience, so take it for what it's worth), If I know a given parish will be using ONE of those 5 settings, I at least know there is some continuity. I will know what to expect. Hopefully, my home parish would find use for most of the settings, so as to limit unfamiliarity when traveling, etc. Better, IMHO, for the various settings to be used in continuity with the whole Church (i.e., having them designated for various seasons -- DS5 for Reformation Day, etc.), but that's a leap farther than what the LCMS has had for a long, long time, if it ever was present. And I really don't think I'd have ever found that necessary when I was a Lutheran -- that's more an observation as a current Orthodox Christian than one I'd have had as a Lutheran.

Point being, I don't think catholicity among Lutherans need mean what we have as Orthodox, where the services, hymnody, tones, etc. are prescribed for each and every day of the Church year. But I do think it needs to be quite a bit more than what seems to be present among a lot of Lutherans today. When I can't walk into a Lutheran parish and know with some degree of comfort what it is I will receive that day, that is a huge problem. And that, not a reliance on catholicity, is what drove us to look elsewhere.

christl242 said...

True, nor should anyone else outside the Roman See

David, I was a member of "Holy Mother Church" for fourteen years. I have, however, intentionally chosen to return to my Lutheran roots so in the eyes of "Mother Church" I am a "naughty" Catholic. Suffice it to say that I no longer regard myself a Catholic, naughty or otherwise.

Your points about the "catholicity" spoken of in the AC are well taken and I have no argument with them. I am fortunate to have found an LCMS parish that takes them seriously. However, having seen the upheaval that Vatican II wrought both internally and in its effect on other western liturgical traditions the much-vaunted "unity and catholicity" in the Church of Rome looks very different from the inside. The heterodoxy that exists among the different factions in that once-august body make the problems in the LCMS look like a piece of cake, as was evidenced at a recent mass in a California parish where the priest permitted a Presbyterian minister to "concelebrate" and distribute Communion to the parishioners.

Christine

Past Elder said...

Your story resonates with me, David. When I became Lutheran, it was in WELS. At first I just assumed WELS was always as it was in the mid-90s when I came in, and that WELS in the mid-90s was everywhere else like it was in my parish.

Man did I have a lot to learn!

And in learning it, I went LCMS.

I did not even consider going back to Rome, or, as many RCs did in the wake of Vatican II, going EO or what seems to be emerging as WO -- Western Orthodoxy, though we have two parishes of the "Antiochan" outfit here in town.

Why not? Continuity is fine, it really is, but continuity, whether across time or across space in the same time, is continuity OF something. Much as I may seek continuity in both senses, if a place has continuity but continuity of something I do not believe, the continuity, while admirable for them, means nothing to me, I don't believe what is being continued.

IOW, I believe the BOC is a true and accurate statement of the faith of Christ and his church as revealed in the church's own book, the Bible. Therefore, no church body that does not confess that faith, at least officially however wanting in practice, whatever admirable things I may find in say the RCC or EO, and while there is overlap in what they and we confess, the bottom line is they do not confess what I do, they do not continue what I believe is to be continued, and I would in no way go there.

David Garner said...

Past Elder,

Completely understand, and we likely would have ended up in the same place but for the fact that in attending an Orthodox parish, we became convinced Orthodoxy was, in fact, the fullness of the faith. Out of respect for Pastor Weedon and the fact that this is a Lutheran blog, I won't get into the reasons why. This really isn't the time or place for that. But I did want to point out that we didn't just jump in with both feet and ignore confession. We struggled with it for nearly 8 months before we decided to be chrismated.

David

Past Elder said...

Well, David, that's good, because I am not about to debate what is the fullness, as they say now, of the faith of Christ here either.

Which is the point -- absent a conversion re what is the fullness of the faith, other desirable factors such as liturgical continuity and harmony are secondary, unless they become functionally primary.

I do not know of a single LCMS church hereabouts where, for example, it is not Vatican II For Lutherans with DSI and the novus ordo/RCL-based lectionary, and were it not for my time in WELS I would never have been to a Common Service at all, ever.

You might appreciate the humour in this. Back at the miserable cesspool of festering revisionism and creeping modernism from which I came, I watched as they Greeked up the Kyrie thinking it drew us closer to apostolic and patristic roots, only to make it a penitential make over of the Confiteor -- for the times we have (insert sin), Lord have mercy. Then in WELS in the common Service in CW they likewise mistook the Kyrie as penitential and relocated it before the Absolution.

But in DSI of LSB, a development of Setting One of LBW, they actually do restore the Kyrie to something of its function in the First Litany, with "In peace let us pray to the Lord" and its first three petitions each followed by :ord have mercy.

Which, on the one hand, allows me to tolerate DSI which is pretty much the new Common Service hereabouts, but on the other, some years ago when I wrote programme notes for a choir Carlos Messerli was directing he gave me an LBW after examining which I thought If this is all the Lutherans have I'd be better off in postconciliar Rome with the original novus ordo!

David Garner said...

Past Elder,

Your point about the Kyrie is well said. And my point about Lutheran catholicity is precisely this -- if the hymnal committee can get something that wrong (CW has many, many more errors than that, as you certainly know), how much more so a lone pastor doing whatever his heart desires?

One of the changes our last pastor made in the liturgy he developed was the omission of the Preface. We no longer confessed that we sang the Gloria "with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven" (or, in the lingo of CW, "with all the saints on earth and hosts of heaven"). Guess what? At a Bible study, it became readily apparent to me that no one else believed that either. It was suggested that the departed saints "don't know what we are doing here on earth." Now, I'm not talking about asking for their intercession -- I'm saying that it was suggested they were locked up in heaven behind a firmament and had no knowledge of the Church on earth! That's not how I read the Lutheran Confessions, and it SURE isn't how I read Revelation.

IMHO, it was the loss of catholicity that led to the false doctrine. Had they just maintained with what they had been given, it would have been much easier to say "hey, we sing this in the liturgy!" I said it anyway, but to no avail, since when I said it, no one had heard those words in years. Lex orandi, lex credendi. This is far from the only such instance I could give, but I hope it makes the point I'm trying to make.

christl242 said...

That's not how I read the Lutheran Confessions, and it SURE isn't how I read Revelation.

Agreed.

The WELS is decidedly pietistic, one of the reasons I never considered it when I left the Catholic church.

I love the catholicity of Divine Service III in the Lutheran Service Book, same Common Service I remember from my Lutheran childhood.


Christine

Past Elder said...

It makes your point well, David, and I agree with it.

Re freelancing liturgical pastors, indeed, if entire committees of scholars go afield why not a pastor in his study? Which I think gets to Pastor Weedon's point about trusting the collective wisdom rather than personal judgement. And too, many pastors, including some Lutheran ones, see no collective wisdom to trust. Some in the sense that liturgy is unimportant, or at least secondary, and some in the sense that, and I heard this all the time in WELS, it's all adaiaphora so back off treading on my Christian Freedom dude.

But, catholicity is compromised not just when one freelances, but also when one contrives collectively something new, and this is something I go on about all the time. Lex orandi lex credendi indeed; we now have on equal terms a Lutheran version of the traditional Western liturgy, which is to say in our belief the Western liturgy pared of its anti Scriptural accretions over time, and a Lutheran version of the Vatican II novus ordo missae, which is not at all the traditional Western liturgy pared of its anti Scriptural accretions over time, but the novus ordo and with earlier Lutheran sources diligently compared, to paraphrase the KJV.

Not at all the same thing. And, it is hardly understood at all that the novus ordo arose in the Roman church as a Roman reaction to a Roman problem -- which the Lutheran Reformation had long since addressed. And, having had a ringside seat for all this in one of the "liturgical movement's" hotspots, it was clearly understood that the shift being made overall could not happen within the traditional liturgy, that a shift in credendi of necessity involves a shift in orandi.

So, when we Lutherans attempt to take this an endow it with a Lutheran content, we are no different than those who take other non-Lutheran forms of worship coming from other church bodies, say American "evangelicals", and attempt to endow that with a Lutheran content.

It's the same process whether one looks to Rome or to Willow Creek, and having done the former, the door is open to those who want to look to anything else too. In neither case do we proceed as the Confessions indicate, retaining for the most part the ceremonies previously in use.

joel in ga said...

Has anyone else noticed a correspondence between inferior liturgy and the lack of weekly Communion? I suspect if more Lutheran churches valued the Lord's Supper enough to celebrate it every Sunday, our liturgies and catholicity would automatically improve.

christl242 said...

I suspect if more Lutheran churches valued the Lord's Supper enough to celebrate it every Sunday, our liturgies and catholicity would automatically improve.

Well. Can't say that's the case with novus ordo Rome. The Saturday vigil mass was the worst. A low mass if I ever saw one, the Gloria was spoken, not sung, and we were out the door in 50 minutes. But we had Communion at every mass.

I have no objection to weekly Communion but I'm not sure that's the cure for bad liturgy. Better twice a month with reverence than every Sunday without.

Christine

Past Elder said...

Ha! Used to be the "Red Eye" Mass was the noon one. Now it's the night before, to "get it out of the way" as they say. Communion at every one of them.

joel in ga said...

Christine,

Not sure if the RC example makes a point for or against. Were it not for the Eucharist at every RC Mass, their services might well be even worse.

christl242 said...

Not sure if the RC example makes a point for or against. Were it not for the Eucharist at every RC Mass, their services might well be even worse.

In a Lutheran context perhaps not. In the RC context the liturgical movement as it played out has been far less than successful. Catholics are not adhering to their own church's teaching. Confession (oops, pardon me, the "Sacrament of Reconciliation") has crashed and burned and the understanding of the Real Presence needs some heavy review.

That, plus the fact that every Catholic is under obligation to "hear Mass", even if he/she doesn't receive Communion continues the Roman error of the Eucharist as a sacrifice on behalf of the living and the dead.

My husband still remembers the 20 minute low masses he used to attend, in and out with all due haste. Not much room for breaking open the Word there, huh?

Christine

Past Elder said...

For us, the Sacrament is what it is by the power of the Word to do what it says. This is not the case with the RCC; or, from an RCC POV, it is the case but with a different understanding of how that works out, or is mediated if you like words like that.

The Word does what it says by a properly ordained priest doing a properly drawn up rite, by the simple doing of that work -- ex opere operato. Properly of course meaning according to the RCC. The right stuff happens, and minimally being present for that is what you do. Hence the 20 minute Mass, etc. Or even at an all out smells and bells, it is the action of Christ in this way that is paramount, and singing and speechifying and such is what Protestants do when they have lost that.

Nonetheless, the RC experience does show us that simply the celebration of a Eucharist at not just every Sunday but very service every day does not of itself bring about liturgical fidelity and reverence or catholicity. The largely false ideas of the RCC as to how the power of the Word is mediated in the Eucharist do not change that; they may falsely understand how and bread and the fruit of the vine become the Body and Blood of Christ, but they no less than we believe that it is the Body and Blood of Christ that result. And if our understanding is correct, and I believe it is, that means that their Masses nonetheless have the Body and Blood of Christ too, so the point holds.

David Garner said...

To touch on something Pastor Weedon said, I think an enormous benefit of having some reasonable continuity in liturgy is that it takes the pastor out of the role of having to "get it all always right." Even where the pastor errs, the use of agreed upon liturgies (hopefully in whichever setting) keeps the Faith straight.

One of the interesting things we found in the Eastern Church is that when the Church was persecuted either under Islamic rule or under Commmunism the faith continued roughly uninhibited. Were there problems that crept up? Sure. But even where freedom to write, study, learn and catechize the Faith was severely suppressed, the liturgy carried the Faith on. I have on rare occasion seen how this works among Lutherans as well -- where the pastor lacks gifts of clarity in preaching and teaching, the liturgy fills that void. I would suggest this is a rarer problem among Lutherans because of the emphasis on good preaching, but I've been in Lutheran Divine Services where the preaching was not as good as it could have been, but the liturgy was still strong.

Take that away, or leave it to the pastor to formulate his own liturgy according to his whim, and what happens is it is ALL dependent on the pastor -- not only the homily, but the liturgy and hymnody as well. To me, that is a real danger that is unnecessary when Lutherans maintain those rites they have been given.

Jim Huffman said...

I appreciate Mr. Garner's comments about the liturgy in times of persecution.

I'd also suggest that a problem within Lutheran circles is an over-reliance on sermon preparation. The sermon should be a preaching of the Word, not a religious speech. I would encourage a fairly simple recounting of the text, explaining difficulties, and applying the text to the listeners, a manner often used by Luther. Gimmicks, speech techniques, dramatic inventions, etc., have no place in the explication of the text and can detract from the Word of God.

I wonder if preachers shouldn't beware of those who praise their sermons. Such praise sounds wonderful, but I sometimes wonder if memorable sermons get in the way of hearing and understanding the Word.