Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Few Thoughts on Liturgy

Here are 4 general thoughts about liturgy I'd like to post for reflection. I would honestly appreciate thoughts anyone might have about them.

1. I read somewhere this week about the similiarity of contemporary services, no matter what the denomination, how there's a certain "sameness" to them all, whether Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, whatever.

2. So I started thinking that I feel like the same thing happens in most traditional black churches. I think it explains how most black people feel perfectly free to go from one church (say, Methodist) to another (say, Baptist, you get the picture) because there's an underlying liturgy there that carries from congregation to congregation.

3. I think the beauty of a somewhat fixed liturgy is that it promote a real spontaneity. It might be one that doesn't look outwardly like spontaneity, but it's a freedom, a vibrancy that one can almost feel when someone is not tied to the book, not because he's making up crap (either beforehand, or as he goes along) but because the liturgy is so much a part of the worshipper that he can breathe within it. It's kind of like seeing someone who is really comfortable with a particular set of clothes and how they look like they come alive in those clothes. On the other hand, there's nothing so inimical to real spontaneity than an ever-changing liturgy, one where the worshipper has to constantly be checking on where he should be, making him supra aware of himself just at the time he should be unaware of himself.

4. When I truly feel comfortable with a contemporary service, I find that there's something (music, melodies, "attitude," whatever) underlying that I'm either familiar with, or comfortable with, and that "something" carries me along within and through the changes in the liturgies.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

The constant need for change in the Divine Service aids in the propensity for people to neglect memorization. Our elderly can remember parts of the service even if they otherwise have severe memory loss. What will we remember?

What is Contemporary anyway? Those trained in the 70's and 80's tend to do things in a certain style. But they are anything but truly current and modern. Many of the youth today can no more relate to "Contemporary" worship styles than their parents could to what went before.

One of the big problems with Contemporary worship styles is that, since change and non-stogyness (?) is important, if the reason why people come to your services are ultimately for these types of things; the church done the street will probably be doing it bigger and better. Then you have got to top it. Viciious cycle. Where does that leave the poor pew-sitter? Matt