Thursday, May 05, 2005

Theological Custody of Worship

This is a response to "Liturgy in the Age of Certainty" By Frank C. Senn [From Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1997. pp. 483-525.]

“Liturgy in the age of certainty served as a confessional symbol.” “The idea of worship as primary theology or living dogma.” “Patterns and acts of worship both express and form the beliefs of the worshipers.” “A lesson from this 'age of certainty' is the need for a theological custody of worship.”

What have I been saying all along?

We draw our theology, our ethics, our discipleship, our worldview – from our worship. Liturgist James White goes so far as to call Sacraments the “Third Testament.”[1] If you ask an Orthodox Christian what they believe about a theological point, they will read to you from their liturgy. They can’t explain it – they simply must do it (this doesn’t sound too different from the statements of artists).

People do not realize – because they have not been taught – how much they are formed by their worship. And if their worship is aesthetically poor, theologically lacking, historically ungrounded, or irresponsibly executed, then they find their faith shallow and meaningless.

This is why we must take our liturgy seriously; we must educate our congregations. Worship will shape them whether we like it or not, because in worship, particularly in the sacraments, God moves. And a person cannot encounter the living God without being changed.

Oh, God, let your Church take greater care of their liturgy! Our “theological custody of worship” is a sacred and holy duty. Forgive us for using the sacred rituals of your self-giving to further our own divisions and nurse our pride. Give us a humble spirit when approaching the hallowed ground where we commune with you. Let us strive to find each our own language, which allows us to get out of the way and through our liturgy accept the magnificent self-gifts you desire to give us. Amen.

[1] White, James F. Introduction to Christian Worship 3 ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000), 197.


LutheranChik said...

Amen and amen.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your blog... I feel like I shall be returning to read more! The title and subheading of your site rings true for me as well. I'm 22 yr. old Lutheran gal finishing my first year at Seminary. How do you find the time/energy to post coherent theological reflections in your blog?? All of my coherent thoughts are spent on papers and sermons at this point! :o)