What is Gottesdienst's [evil/double secret/master] agenda? What exactly are we pushing? We're glad you asked. Welcome to Agenda Week on Gottesdienst.
Father Beane has kicked off Agenda Week with the post below on reverence. I know at least one other editor is working on an opus in this regard. I'm looking forward to reading what any of the editors have to say because the truth is, as Dr. Stuckwisch noted recently, we certainly don't agree on everything under the sun.
But I think we can all agree with Fr. Beane's simple analysis - if you want our agenda boiled down to one word it's Reverence. If you prefer your agenda, like all Gaul, to be divided into three parts: Reverence in worship.
As the country parson of the bunch, I'll try to tell you what I see as the goal of Gottesdiesnt's advocacy is on the local, middle Missouri level. Or, in other words, what does Reverence look like in a normal midwestern LCMS parish that has just gone with the flow for the past 40 years, or 100 years.
Reverence begins with the words and is aided across parish boundaries by familiarity. I'd like to see every parish in the LCMS be fluent in the Common Service (TLH p. 15/LSB p. 184). As for the post-Vatican II services from LW and HS '98 - I'm not a fan for various reasons beyond the scope of this post. They are certainly orthodox and Lutheran. But I would hope that parishes that use them would also regularly use the Common Service for reasons I spoke of here.
With the words settled, we must look to the ceremonies. The Chief Ceremony is the one Jesus instituted: the Mass. All of our ceremonies grow from this. The whole Divine Service grows organically from the Fact of the Holy Communion. So what does this mean for the Middle Missouri pastor and congregation? As of first importance: no more disposable cuplets for the Precious Blood. Tossing the leftovers of Jesus' blood in a decorative trash can is not a reverent ceremony.
But there is so much to say here! How the pastor distributes the Holy Body and Precious Blood, how he acts during the consecration, etc., teaches a great deal about the Sacrament. The chief duty of ceremonies is to teach, as the Confessions say. The second duty of ceremonies to lend beauty and dignity to worship, which is really a subset of the first duty. Thus, I am an advocate of genuflecting or deeply bowing after each consecration. This is a ceremony that no denier of the Real Presence can perform in good conscience, and hence it teaches a great deal. Likewise, it is a confession against Receptionism, a terrible (and terribly Scholastic) doctrine that still lurks in the Missouri Synod.
I could say a lot more, but I've got a meeting and you get the idea. Reverence in worship means you are careful about the ceremonies you choose. I have not yet mentioned chanting, posture, gestures, head bowing, etc. These things are all valuable because they teach and because they lend dignity and beauty to worship.
And that's my agenda. I want Lutheranism to proclaim it's teaching in deeds and not just words - and in deeds that match the words.