Thursday, December 13, 2007

Worship Wars

I am an ultra-liturgical nut.

After decades playing some of the most modern praise music one can imagine, my personal tastes have swung to the opposite extreme in the spectrum. My brain isn't just trapped in a previous century... it is in the last millennium. When I hear "traditional music" I think of the Liturgy of St. James and hymns that were written using neumes and cheironomic notation. When I hear "contemporary music" I think of anything that was written after the invention of the modern musical staff... say 1500 AD or so. I want real candles. I want to see genuflections, chanted readings, and incense censors. My wish list is very long and very old.

But my personal tastes do not matter. It is not my duty to force them into places where they are not wanted. I will educate and expose people to my passion--even encourage the adoption of my passion, but I must never forget that it might be only my passion. I am not here to cause stumbling blocks. I am strong enough in the faith to do without some of my personal tastes, but I know that many of my brothers and sisters are not. So even though my wishes might even test the limits of some of the most conservative among us, I am perfectly content to be a very moderate Lutheran when it comes to corporate practice. Why? Because I know where my place is in the pecking order of the church: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

It is not necessary that specific ceremonies be universally practiced or observed in a uniform manner. The essence of the church is no more than the Gospel preached in its purity and the Sacraments properly administered.

In case you haven't noticed, there is an attitude of disrespectful, smug contempt on all sides of "the worship issue". For all of those who love their particular tastes so much more than their brother that they treat human inventions with more esteem and care than actual people, I present Romans 15:1-7:

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” [Rom 15:1-7 ESV]

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