Liturgical evangelicals

Many Lutherans have pretty much abandoned the historic liturgy to embrace evangelical worship styles.  And yet now, many evangelicals are embracing the historic liturgy.  In fact, liturgy may be the latest thing in “contemporary” worship.  If you don’t believe that, read the article from Christianity Today that I link to after the jump.

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An Explanation of the Divine Service

Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL, has in its pew racks a laminated explanation of the liturgy.  The Brothers of John the Steadfast has arranged with Bethany to make this resource more widely available.  It’s posted here, and my understanding is that anyone can download and print it freely.

I’ve reproduced it after the jump.  Those of you interested in or curious about Lutheran worship–there have been questions at this blog about what the “divine service” entails–can get a good sense of what it is and why it is. [Read more...]

“And with your spirit”

The Roman Catholic Church has changed the liturgical response to the greeting, “The Lord be with you” back to “And with your spirit.” This is a change from the more modern liturgies that had switched to the more colloquial “And also with you.”

The more modern Lutheran liturgies of the 1980s made the same change, though users of the older services–as well as Divine Service 3 of the new Lutheran Service Book–continued to say “And with your spirit.”

My question is, What exactly does that mean?

The new Catholic explanations I’ve read say that the “spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit. The greeting thus recognizes the priest as bringing the Holy Spirit with him.

But that doesn’t seem to make linguistic sense. The Lord be with the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit IS the Lord.

I think what’s happening is that the congregation is praying for the pastor–specifically, praying for his spirit, for his soul–as he, mortal that he is, becomes an instrument through whom God will act by means of His Word and sacraments.

Is that right? Or are there other meanings?

The revised Roman Catholic liturgy

When we lived in Wisconsin, my wife taught at a Catholic school, which occasionally would hold mass.  This also led to friendships which occasionally took us to wedding and funeral masses.   I had thought that going to a Roman Catholic service would at least mean taking in some high church liturgy.  But more often than not, it meant folky guitars, praise songs even worse than those of Protestants, and flat sounding modernizations of liturgical language.  (I know not all masses were this way.  My harder-core Catholic friends would find more traditional services, with some getting in trouble for trying to recover the old Latin mass, though I think the English translation of the ritual was mandatory.)

But now, things are changing again, but they are changing back.  A newly-authorized and newly-mandatory English translation goes back to some of the older readings that are closer to the original Latin.  As a result, by the end of next month, American Catholics are going to have to get used to a whole new liturgy, one whose language is actually more traditional than what that they had gotten used to after the Vatican II reforms of the 1960s.

English-speaking Catholics are bracing for the biggest changes to their Mass since the 1960s, a shift some leaders warn could cause “ritual whiplash.”

The overhaul, which will become mandatory Nov. 27, is aimed at unifying the more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide with a translation that is as close as possible to the original Latin version. It allows for less independence and diversity of interpretation in a church that in recent decades has tried to retain more control over how Catholicism is defined.

Recent popes have emphasized orthodoxy and hierarchy, particularly in the West, where religious identity is increasingly fluid. Catholic hospitals and schools have been required to more clearly espouse church teachings, and Pope Benedict XVI has stressed the sole truth of Catholicism over other faiths, even declining this month to pray with Hindus, Jews and others at an interreligious event.

The new translation changes the majority of sentences in the Mass. The prayers and call-and-response dialogue between the priest and the congregation are different, transforming the dialogue that Catholics under 40 have used in church their entire lives. Some leaders warn that the shift could cause “ritual whiplash” among those accustomed to a worship script so familiar that most recite it from memory.

Reaction to the changes has been intense, in some ways fueling a Catholic culture war that began when the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s imposed far more sweeping changes designed to open up and modernize the church. Some traditionalists say the new translation of the ritual is richer and — because it’s less conversational — more mysterious and spiritual. . . .

Perhaps the most basic change will be when the priest says: “The Lord be with you.” The congregation will no longer say “And also with you.” The new response is “And with your spirit.”

via ‘Ritual whiplash’ ahead? Catholics’ Mass liturgy changing. – The Washington Post.

Another change is going from “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might” to “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts.”  That last phrase is a translation of the even older “Sabaoth.”

Notice anything, Lutherans?  The language that is being changed in those two examples was the same language used in Lutheran Worship (a.k.a., the “blue hymnbook”) by way of the ELCA’s Lutheran Book of Worship (a.k.a., the “green hymnbook”)!   So why did Lutherans follow the lead of the Vatican II liturgists?

But there is more.  The “contemporary worship” vogue has also been connected to the Vatican II worship reforms.  The call to be less God-centered and more congregation-centered, the impulse to be culturally-relevant, and the value of worshipping in new ways–all of these notions came out of Vatican II.   So did the use of guitars, praise bands, and faux folk music (which was only a small step from pop music).  So why did evangelicals, along with Protestants of all sorts, follow the lead of the Vatican II liturgists?

It will now be interesting to see if the neo-traditionalism of this new mass will pave the way for Protestants to return to their own particular and diverse ways of worship.

I do think the new LCMS hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book, made this move before the Catholics did in restoring, with light modernization, the Divine Service found in The Lutheran Hymnal of the 1940s.  The LSB keeps the more modern blue hymnal liturgies too, among other options.  But it’s a good example of something “new” that is also “old.”

 

 

 

“In faith in You, and in fervent love toward one another”

We conclude our series on The Narrative Commentary to the Divine Service by John Pless with what he says about the conclusion of the service:

POST-COMMUNION CANTICLE, PRAYER

Having received the Lord’s Body and Blood for our salvation, like Simeon who held in his arms the Savior of the world, we go in peace and joy singing Simeon’s Song from St. Luke, Chapter 2. Another song of thanksgiving based on 1 Chronicles 16:8-10 may be used instead. Before we leave the Lord’s Table, we give thanks, asking that the salutary gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood would have its way in our lives, strengthening us in faith toward God and fervent love toward one another. The Sacrament draws us outside of ourselves to live in Christ by faith and for the neighbor by love.

BENEDICTION

The Name of the Lord is the beginning and the end of the Divine Service. We are now marked with the Lord’s Name in the Benediction-that word of God’s Blessing from Numbers 6 in which He favors us with His grace and peace. With the Lord’s Name given us in Holy Baptism we were drawn together. Now with that same Name, He sends us back into the world, to the places of our various callings to live by the mercy we have received as living sacrifices to the praise of His glory and the good of our neighbor. To this benediction you add your Amen, declaring blessing received.

via Grace Lutheran Church – Pastor’s Letter – April 2010.

Notice how many allusions there are to the doctrine of vocation.  I have heard Prof. Pless explain elsewhere that the closing prayer about “faith in You and in fervent love towards one another,” which was Luther’s phrasing, is a direct reference to vocation.  At the close of the liturgy, in which we find forgiveness for our sins and grow in our faith, we are sent back out into our various callings to live out that faith “in love and service to our neighbors.”

Chef, cook, butler, host, and food

As we continue our survey of the Divine Service from John Pless’s Narrative Commentary, we come to Holy Communion:

PREFACE, SANCTUS, PRAYER, OUR FATHER

Drawn toward the gifts of Jesus’ body and blood, our hearts are lifted up in thanksgiving and praise as we anticipate the reception of the gifts that carry with them our redemption. The Sanctus brings together the song of heaven’s angels in adoration of the Holy Three-in-One and the acclamations of Palm Sunday; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.” In the prayer, we give thanks to the Lord for the redemption which He has secured for us by His cross; we ask Him to prepare us to receive that redemption in living and joyful faith. The Our Father, the prayer which Jesus taught His disciples to pray, is the “table prayer’ with which we come to the Lord’s Table.

CONSECRATION, PAX DOMINI, AGNUS DEI, DISTRIBUTION
The pastor speaks the Lord’s own words; these words give and bestow what they declare, the Body and Blood of Christ. The Sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood is the vehicle for peace. Showing them His wounds, the Risen Lord declared His peace is given us with the Lord’s Body and Blood. By sharing this “peace of the Lord” with each other, we lay aside all that stands in contradiction of the Lord’s testament. With the words of John the Baptist, the Agnus Dei confesses the mercy and peace that we receive from the Lamb of God in His Supper. We come to the Lord’s Table hungry and thirsty and He feeds us with His Body and refreshes us with His Blood. It is the Lord’s Supper. As Luther reminds us “Our Lord is at one and the same time chef, cook, butler, host, and food.”

via Grace Lutheran Church – Pastor’s Letter – March 2010.


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