One Day Gottesdienst Conference
Liturgy as the Beacon for God's Elect
Friday, June 18th, 2010
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Just a few short weeks until the one-day conference and liturgical workshop in Ravenna, NE. The morning session will be a paper and discussion, the afternoon will be a detailed look at and how-to session on the ceremonies of a traditional Lutheran Divine Service.
It is a proverbial truth that the seminaries (including field work assignments and vicarage) do not, on the whole, do a good job of preparing pastors to conduct the Divine Service. That is, they spend very little time on the actual rubrics either eschewing them as “mere chancel prancing” or taking it for granted that seminarists will pick it up on vicarage. This leads to a common complaint (and not only among the newly ordained): I want to conduct a reverent, traditional Lutheran Divine Service, but I don't know even know where to look. . .
Participants in the conference will receive a print out of the Common Service with the traditional rubrics noted in the margins (an ersatz altar book with rubrics) as well as a sneak peek at Daily Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal (publication by early 2011, we hope!).
The morning's paper will ask what the doctrine of election has to do with worship and mission – and deconstruct the functional Arminianism that seems to be dominant in today's North American Lutheranism. Here's a teaser trailer and the full schedule:
We are the living among the dying. We are those who know the cure to the world's ailment of sin. So it is up to us spread the message of our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, what judgment will come upon us if we refuse! Just think of how many will go down to hell this day. I wonder how many of them could have been saved if we had just done a little more. How many would be entering the pearly gates if each of our members had just told one more person about Jesus? How many could we save if we were willing to give up our sacred cows and make Sunday worship speak to the outsider a little more rather than just to the insider? How many people have needlessly been turned off of the Gospel because of stodgy Lutheran hymns and cushionless pews? If the lost shall be saved, then we must repent, rethink, and reform what worship in our midst has been. We must open the doors, both physically and metaphorically, so that the seeking unbeliever will be drawn in and hear the Gospel and perhaps be saved.
Sound familiar? You've heard one version or another of that speech from Synod and district officials from time immemorial. No doubt you've heard that speech and felt a twinge of guilt: am I doing enough for the lost? On the other hand, if you've bothered to come here on a Friday in June, when sensible pastors are fishing, you have probably also not quite been comfortable with that speech. Is the liturgy really an impediment to missions? Will a praise band really save more people? Something just seems off with this line of reasoning. On the one hand, doesn't God tell us to go forth and preach the Gospel to all nations? “Woe to me if I do not preach” and all that. And surely we've got to be intelligible so that others can understand us. “All things to all men that I might save some” - right?
Today I'm going to try to untangle those questions, clear up the modern Lutheran confusion about worship and missions, and try to built an authentically Lutheran theology and practice of worship and mission based on the central doctrine of the Scriptures: salvation by grace alone, also known as the doctrine of election.