Saturday, July 10, 2010

LCMS Cringe-vention?

Where are the Chinese acrobats, the two-headed cow, and the guy who juggles chainsaws when you need them?


  1. Looks like they recycled some stuff from a Texas District convention I attended on Galveston many years ago. I complained to the district after that year that the closing procession looked more appropriate to a Buddhist temple than a Christian house of worship.

  2. The swirling ribbons are recycled from the St Louis ordination service this year. The other things looked like Carmen Miranda's old hats. The observation about the Buddhist Temple (above) crossed my mind as well.
    Since the ceremonies of the church are to teach, what is this trying to teach?

  3. Here's the ALPB correspondent's description of the service. He is very charitable in his own comments, but his reporting is so faithful that one can clearly see that Fr. Beane's tag of "liturgical trainwreck" might only be improved by the addition of "quasi-" to the first word.


  4. I've always thought the best church-convention services are those that use a very standard liturgy (imagine!) and get their specialness from the fact that so many people are there from so many places, celebrating in this familiar way. Instead, it always becomes this "look what the planners came up with" thing that resembles nothing done in local churches.

  5. I'm concerned that the stole Chiquita Banana's hat and put it up on a pole. Oh, and they brought back the St. Louis banners. Nice touch.

  6. This blog is hateful!! The theology of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is what is important, not the worship style, decorations, etc. You will see within the next 10 years a major decline of Lutheran membership. Black, hispanic and other cultural groups, including Africans praise God in their own traditions. But you are too pious to include some of these traditions, including contemporary music into your worship style? What makes you so special??? Show me in the Bible where traditional Lutheran liturgy is so-o-o God-pleasing and nothing else measures up to that standard. God have mercy!!!

  7. Dear Marsha:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think you misunderstand our motives for defending traditional practice. We do so out of love.

    It's interesting that you invoke hatred with regard to a discussion about worship style. The Lutheran confessions do as well: "It is a false and hate-filled charge that our churches have abolished all the ceremonies instituted in ancient times (AC: Summary of the Conflict: 4).

    I don't see how you can separate theology from practice. Once one accepts that you can hold a certain theology with an "anything goes" worship, that is when you end up with the kind of silliness we see all across our synod: clown services, goofy skits, worship featuring fist-pumping and head-banging, cowboy services, dancing girls, and "polka masses."

    A lot of people are scandalized by this kind of irreverent worship practices. The people who are not included in the discussion are those who have left Lutheranism in search of a church that acts like it really believes a miracle happens at the altar every week.

    And quite often, any complaint about how scandalous this kind of entertainment-based experimental worship is, is met with accusations of hatred and threats that unless we ditch reverence, we're headed for a loss in numbers.

    Your appeal to blacks and hispanics is also kind of patronizing. I don't think we need to water down our worship to reach out to ethnic groups. In fact, to the contrary, the traditional liturgy is universal. While our northern European ancestors were still running around naked worshiping trees, Africans were worshiping using the liturgy.

    Africa today is far more traditional than the cartoonish impression that a lot of people seem to have about them. Bishop Walter Obare of Kenya (who was awarded a Saber of Boldness award by Gottesdienst) is no advocate of non-tradionalism and experimental worship forms. The Kenyan Lutheran Mass is the universal Lutheran Mass that was handed over (literally: "traditioned") to them by Scandinavian Lutheran missionaries. They still even sing it in four-part harmony, though in their own language.

    The entire Book of Leviticus is a window into what God likes, how *He* likes to be worshiped. Worship is just that: "worship." We worship Him, not the other way around. We ought to surround ourselves in things that please Him, not the other way around. We submit to a God who prefers order, vestments, bells, incense, chant, beautiful art, dignity, and beauty. None of this was necessary to carry out OT sacrifices. God just likes it. He told us so. He doesn't really give us a reason. But He doesn't just say: "Do what you want, it doesn't matter." I think God ought to have a say in the matter. And that's where tradition ("handing over") comes in. God-pleasing worship has been "handed over" to us from ancient times.


  8. In Scripture, we read about Jesus worshiping liturgically; He never employed puppets, clowns, or a mosh pit.

    This is not to say we must have every one of these Levitical elements in every worship service - but we worship a God who has shown what He likes. Too often, the modern view is to please man rather than God, to appeal to entertainment rather than submit to something and Someone greater than ourselves.

    We do not worship a God who likes us to be entertained with MTV- or World Wrestling Entertainment- style services of worship. I would like to challenge you to find worship in the Bible that could be described as popular entertainment.

    You don't need to hang onto the liturgy to be a Christian. There are many Christians who have little or no liturgical heritage. But if you are a Lutheran, you have agreed to submit to liturgical forms out of love and good order.

    For example, Apology 24:1 is very explicit: "In our churches Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals when the sacrament is offered to those who wish for it after they have been examined and absolved. We keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc." Traditional worship is essential Lutheran worship. To remove traditional elements is to cut the beating Lutheran heart right out of it, and turn a church into something else (which may explain why some "contemporary" churches are ashamed to put "Lutheran" on their signs).

    Also from the Book of Concord: "If the churches observed ceremonies correctly, their dignity would be maintained and reverence and piety would increase among the people" (AC: Review of the Various Abuses: 6). This assumes that there is a "correct" way to observe ceremonies - and that this is tied to reverence and piety. This is what we confess.

    We Lutherans just aren't free to rip out parts of the Book of Concord that might be culturally embarrassing any more than we are free to tear out Genesis because holding to a six-day creation might turn people off of our church.

    I think it is a matter of submission.

    I honestly appreciate your taking the time to express your opinion and give me the opportunity to clarify. Maybe we won't agree on this, but that is my honest and heartfelt opinion rooted in Scripture and Confessions.

    I hope that clears things up!

  9. You are so full of yourself! I, too, love the liturgy. But it is not the only way Lutherans can worship and it certainly is not disrespectful. You go ahead and spew your beliefs--there are plenty of us out here who love our heritage but can appreciate other worship styles.

  10. Dear Martha:

    I don't know why you have to be unpleasant about it. Sure, we can disagree, but to say "you are so full of yourself" and use a word like "spew" is really hateful and degrading. Is it your intention to make a case for non-traditional worship forms, or are you just trying to be personally insulting to someone you have never met?

    Be that as it may, I cited several passages from the Book of Concord to which all Lutherans are bound. But you didn't address any of them. You simply told me what *you* like and gave *your* opinion. And you are certainly entitled to it, and I respect that your views differ from mine.

    You and I can have whatever opinions we want about what kind of music we like (I'm kind of an 80s metal-head personally), what kind of entertainment we like (I like comedy), or which order of Divine Service we like better (I prefer the Common Service). But the bottom line is that Lutherans have *voluntarily bound themselves* to the Book of Concord.

    Therefore, whether we like it or not, that's what we have agreed to do. And even when we don't like it, we ought to submit to it out of love. As much as "anything goes" and "do your own thing" reflect our American culture, that is simply at odds with the Lutheran confessions.

    One can no more be a Lutheran and not worship liturgically than one can be a Roman Catholic and repudiate the pope. It's not a matter of what we like or don't like, it's a simple matter of definition.

    I hope this further clarifies my argument. And maybe you can convince me to change my mind. I have before - even when it comes to worship. But I would like to hear you argue based on the Bible and the confessions rather than tell me I'm "hateful" and "spewing" something. That's just not very convincing to me or anyone else reading this.

    Peace in Christ!

  11. As for the word "spew", maybe that was a little strong, but some of your bloggers use words equally as strong and use degrading and put-down language to describe their feelings and observations. As far as using worship which "displeases God", you better let the thousands of Lutheran pastors who do use contemporary worship as well as liturgical worship know that they are in serious error.
    That certainly would be an interesting discussion!


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