Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 21 August 2009

"Worship is not for tapping into the creative powers but for bringing before God our sacrifices"

It seems that Evangelicals also know that lex orandi, lex credendi.
Here We Are to Worship:
Six principles that might bring a truce to the age-old tension between tradition and popular culture

The worship wars are alive and well. In part, that's because more than ever, churches strive to make their worship culturally relevant, and when they do, this invariably raises questions about the nature of Christian worship....
The church has used and adapted thousands of cultural symbols for worship that reflect and shape its view of God and of the gospel of salvation. Pulpits, kneeling benches, vestments/robes, fish symbols, pictures of Jesus and the disciples, video screens, incense, movie clips, and so on all affect the church's view of God and the communication of the gospel.
Herewith the six, which I think are arguable:
(1) All liturgical action is culturally conditioned....
(2) The relationship between liturgy and culture is theologically framed by creation and the Incarnation....
(3) Integrating liturgy and culture requires us to be critical of our own cultural context....
(4) The extremes of either complete identification with or rejection of a given culture should be avoided. ...
(5) Worship must reflect common elements of the Christian tradition through the unique expressions of a particular cultural context....
(6) The liturgical actions of the church—including proclamation of the Word, common prayer, baptism, and Eucharist—are among the "universal" or common factors in the Christian tradition.

Two points struck me.
In support of the contention that the liturgical actions of the church must be universal across the Christian tradition, the authors, Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger, remind us that the Church is "not only a multicultural community, but also a historical community, one that always finds its identity in the same God revealed in Jesus Christ. ...theological and relational realities unify the church [and] this unity should be reflected in a consistency of symbols."

Inconsistency is the Enemy of Ritual.
In Catholic sacramental theology we recognize that proper form and matter are essential to the efficacy of the Sacrament, but even without that, the psychological power of a Sacrament, or any ritual, derives from its familiar shape.

And this section really struck a chord:
As theologian Donald Bloesch has written,
Worship is not a means to tap into the creative powers within us rather than an occasion to bring before God our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Hymns that retell the story of salvation as delineated in the Bible are being supplanted by praise choruses that are designed to transport the soul into a higher dimension of reality.
Worship is not about a search for meaning or experience, but an acknowledgment that meaning and salvation are found in God's incomparable act of redemption in Christ. Methodist pastor Craig Rice agrees: "As long as the church continues to confuse the hunger for God, extant in every human heart, with the same yearnings that drive a market culture and a consumerist society, its worship will remain irrelevant at best and an outright impediment at worst."

The Liturgy is such a gift -- let's not fall into the inappropriate practices that even our less liturgically-minded separated sibs are seeing the error of!

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