I love the liturgy. After my last blog you might wonder about that, but I do love the liturgy. I was looking at a free book I received today called, "Engaged" which is about how to make worship much more meaningful for the worshipers. As I looked through the book (and I doubt seriously if I read it) all I could do was shake my head. One thing it recommended (are you ready for this?) is to plan the worship ahead of time and make the music, the message, the readings 9if you use them, duh!) and all those other things of worship come together in a focused theme. WOW! That is amazing insight. But wait a minute, that is what the LC-MS has been doing for years. that is what I was taught back in the 80's when I attended Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. That is what I have been practicing for the last 25 years. It isn't a surprise to me that planning worship in advance makes for worship to be more meaningful for those who come to the service.
The wonder of the liturgy is that it keeps us focused, directed and moving towards the life that God would have us live rather than just a good feeling that lasts until you make it to Cracker Barrel for Sunday brunch. The liturgy that I follow is that which comes from the Lutheran Service Book (or from the Lutheran Hymnal in years past and Hymnal Supplement 98 at Ferrin and Altamont). Why do I use the hymnbooks? Because they give me guidance and are worthwhile when it comes to planning and leading worship.
Am I stuck in the hymnbooks? Nope. I find that I can move outside of the hymnbooks and write an order of service that is very meaningful and very confessional and also very doctrinally sound. I do not believe that I stray from that which I agreed when I was ordained into the ministry. I do not leave behind my confessional status nor my desire to be faithful to the Word of God and the doctrine of the LC-MS. I have written services for both traditional worship and blended worship. I have never written a true contemporary service as I am too Lutheran to give up that which I know is faithful to the doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church. Is that because you can't do contemporary worship as a Lutheran? Nope again. There are some really faithful Lutheran Churches doing contemporary worship. (To be honest, there are some Lutheran Churches doing a terrible job with contemporary worship. At the same time, there are some Lutheran Churches doing a terrible job with traditional worship.)
I do believe that the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is facing some challenging times when it comes to worship. Not because the contemporary, "liberal" people are pushing hard to do away with things but because the traditional, "confessional" people are pushing hard to bring out the Roman style of worship. Perhaps that isn't a fair statement, but that is my read on it. We are having the high church shoved down our throats at every turn, and I do believe that if it doesn't back off a little, allowing the local congregation and the pastor to worship as best fits their situation, there will be serious backlash. Much like I do believe that this current direction is a backlash against those who pushing to do away with traditional, liturgical worship.
More thoughts to come.