October 18, 2017

Grace Lutheran Church, Tulsa OK

Like I said Lutherans (and Anglicans and Methodists and…), get with it on the missional thing please. A lot of evangelicals need you.

BTW, the “Evangelical Liturgy” series in on its way back. Don’t fret.

Comments

  1. My two cents, for what its worth.
    I love this video. I think it shows that you don’t have to do the “lastest and greatest” in order to reach out. Indeed, in my opinion, it shows that when someone comes into the community of faith, the community is to guide, teach, and help integrate them into the family.

  2. I’m very impressed with not only their efforts in reaching out in an approachable, relevant way, but in their commitment to authentic, historical Christian corporate worship.

    What’s more, they use incense. It warms my heart to see Lutherans use incense and votive candles. 🙂

    • “What’s more, they use incense. It warms my heart to see Lutherans use incense and votive candles.”

      Sadly, they seem to be in the minority. But I digress.

  3. There was great wisdom in the Pastor saying, ” The trendy and the fads fade away” Let us pray thise things fade quickly, before too much damage is done.

  4. Ok, I’m just going to say it, I was skeptical when I first clicked the link. I mean, I thought liturgy was kind of out, you know? My chaplain used it because he’s Presbyterian, but I never caught the spirit with it, so to speak. Still, seeing someone using it so profoundly and watching a congregation respond was a pretty powerful statement. Impressive.

  5. …and now my journey to Wittenburg is nearly complete…. All I need is a day job 😛

  6. Watch out, my evangelical friends, once you get hooked on serious liturgy, there’s no going back. Jesus is with us!

  7. Oh yeah….. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.

  8. I found this on Youtube last month. Their good videos.

  9. I come from an evangelical background, and then left the church. Later, I came back with a family in tow, but I could not get into the Baptist swing again–as I had suspected but was afraid of trying new denominations. My kids loved th Baptist churches though, and they love Grammy’s non-dom style SBC church; “The music is awesome!” Naturally, I dragged them to an Episcopalian church. They hated it. “Boring. Long. Weird.” Especially my oldest, a 12-year old.

    Then, one day, it occurred to me to that I ought to appeal to our shared love of medieval-like fantasy and Greek myths. During the Nicene Creed I said, “You know, Daughter, a thousand years ago knights stood in a building very much like this and said these exact same words.” Eyerolling ensued immediately, but after church there was a question. The next Sunday there were more questions. Now it’s our favorite part…except maybe the chanted Psalms. That’s the part where I look over at her and say, “Showtime!”, just before we begin the ridiculous (but beloved) task of contorting ancient Hebrew text to Anglican Chant in the wrong language. We do this in the car too.

    The red glare bids me sto-op
    But soon verdant light will shine forth into the heavens and our automatic carriage can continue on the pathway home un-hi-in-dured.

    • Love, love, love this, Ben! What a very wise father you are.

      We seek out churches that are “relevant” to us, when really, all we need do is get over ourselves. When we do, the relevance is obvious! Thanks for giving me a tool to use w/ my dear pre-teen!

      • Thank you, but winded would be a better descriptor than wise. I make it a point to exhaust every avenue before I even think about trying the right one.

        You are so right to put relevant in quotes, because my experience thus far (17 years of non-liturgical, almost 3 of liturgical) is that the 3 years in the liturgical service has been more relevant to my spirit half; while my animal nature finds relevance almost everywhere but kneeling.

  10. More loyal opposition. Let’s talk about the things the liturgical traditions have to learn from evangelicals.

    How to construct a decent homily (or sermon). How to continuously integrate things with, and root them in, divine revelation.

    I learned practically nothing in my religious education program. And there was 12 years of it. All this time should have been spent combing through the Bible and the Catechism. The only thing I remember distinctly is two Sundays in a row they made us watch this God-awful “chastity comedian.” That guy was about as funny as a hammer to the shin.

    Almost all the homilies I’ve been exposed to are terribly vague and weak. They don’t delve into the scripture. They present a moral lesson for everyday life. Our homilies tend to be tremendously unsatisfying.

    Most people seem happy and alert and are engaging the liturgy. But my rudest encounter all week is practically always the sign of peace during a weekend mass. You can tell that some people treat it as that one socially awkward motion they have to go through during that one part of the Mass with all the kneeling and standing and recitation of things. They won’t even look at you when they shake your hand. They seem embarrassed.

    And I think that’s key. Embarrassment. American Catholicism knows full well that it is more or less anathema to the popular culture in which it exists. All this meaningless religious education and weaksauce homiletics is a way of trying to make things easier on the American Catholic. And plus we’re still reeling from Vatican II and misunderstanding what the council really said, which always happens after councils. But we need to snap out of it. Really, really need to snap out of it. What liturgical traditions need to do is to embrace the fact that liturgy offers many things that are completely absent in our popular culture, and maybe assume that people show up to church because they want to be there. Exactly like the folks at Grace Lutheran.

    • Liturgy doesn’t necessarily bring with ‘homilies’. There are traditions with both liturgy and strong gospel centered sermons.

      • I don’t understand your first sentence. Your second sentence completely twists and misrepresents what I said.

    • You make good points, Daniel, many of which explain why so many folks fled churches in liturgical traditions over the past few generations. I was one of them. And I do miss some things from my 30+ years in evangelicalism, chief of which is sound Biblical exegesis (although for a long time now, I’ve discovered that is hard to find in evangelical churches, too). I also miss the strong emphasis on missions and evangelism (once again, no guarantee in evangelical churches).

      However, fellow pilgrims like me definitely threw the baby out with the bath water when we departed from the mainlines or Catholic churches, and the result is the shallow, programmatic, entertainment-oriented, culture-bound evangelicalism that abounds today. In our adolescent zeal for sensation and spectacle, we rebelled against the traditions of God’s family, and now find ourselves dissatisfied with the slop that passes for “authentic” Christianity today. We long for genuine worship, a sacramental view of life, and practices that feed true maturity and spiritual rest.

      • I was reading what Austin was saying below about his first liturgical experience being a “breath of fresh air.” That’s exactly how I felt as a child when I attended Southern Baptist services when I’d stay with my grandparents. I loved how they’d mumble “Amen” at things they agreed with, etc. Anyway, it’s great when a community can learn from the strengths of various traditions and nurture them all. I’m sure it happens in pockets all over the place.

      • Chaplain Mike,

        Well said. For me there are two big issues with evangelicalism, and then I will give two main reasons why I stay with it.

        First the issues,

        1. I have become convinced that Revivalism is un healthy and unsustainalbe as a worship model.

        2. There is too much of the “if it’s not spiritual it’s evil” gnosticism.

        Now why I stay.

        And these aren’t the only reasons and they are not meant to start a fight or suggest that one side is worse than the other.

        1. I have small children. Again, please know I’m not saying the gospel is can not be found in the liturgy. I believe it can be, but based on my own experiences I know for a fact that despite all of our shortcomings the gospel is proclaimed in the church where I am. Once I am confident that they have a grasp of the gospel, and certainly once we are empy nesters, I can see myself all sorts of places. Basically, I just still have a hang up on infant baptism. Although I can say that what Luther has to say about it makes more sense and makes me more comfortable than any of “that side” I have read.

        2. I have a sincere desire and a felt call to minister. I have a lot of education, just not a formal theological education. Most evangelical churches are okay with that. I assume most liturgical one’s are not. Again, I’m not saying I do not value an educated clergy. In fact I value it greatly. I just dont’ have that type of training.

        These reasons may not make sense, and they may be ignorant or whatever, but they reflect where I am now.

    • Daniel, I think it must have a lot to do with what Parish you are in. At the small Catholic mass I attend in Maine, the priest gives wonderful homilies. And the few times we have had visiting priests when the usual priest was out of town, they were great too. And the folks doing the Sign of Peace seem happy to do it. Once in a while I will be beside someone who wants nothing to do with it and I leave them alone. But usually we shake hands to both sides of us, in front of us, in back of us, touch the babies, etc. I had the sweetest baby reach out her hand to me a month or so ago and I felt blessed. Truly. So I guess I am very fortunate to be where I am. I also try to remember that this may be the ONLY time in a week that someone gets touched or really noticed, at least for a few seconds. You never know how you may touch someone. I read some time ago about a man who was so depressed he was going to kill himself that day. But a totally strange woman smiled at him and he decided to not commit suicide. A smile costs us nothing.

      • Glad to hear it. I’ve been moving around a lot over the last few years and worked some odd hours and and will take advantage of daily Mass during the summer (but I’m often lazy and will oversleep and have to catch a noon Mass somewhere). So I’ve frequented about ten different churches in my general area. I wouldn’t have said that stuff if I didn’t feel like I had the experience to say that it was probably a general pattern in contemporary American Catholicism.

        But look, I get drawn to churches that offer the sacraments frequently and can accommodate odd schedules. Which is to say I get drawn to big churches. I think the small, humble parish has an enormous leg-up when it comes to these things. Everything is much more earnest and much less political. Maybe I’m romanticizing New England, but I’m picturing a little parish that exists in a strong public community. A strong community in the area also can give a parish a huge leg-up.

        • “Maybe I’m romanticizing New England, but I’m picturing a little parish that exists in a strong public community.”

          Yup, you got it, That is what my parish is like.”

    • APOLOGIES TO ALL FOR THE ABOVE POST. It was wrong of me to suggest that preaching is weaker in liturgical traditions. I was sloppy and careless in how I put some things.

      I love the liturgical tradition and have no plans of leaving it.

    • My mom would always give 2 reasons as to why our Catholic preaching was less than stellar. On a serious note, she’d say that the focal point should be the Eucharist, not the homily (which really doesn’t excuse the unprepared preaching I have at times heard). On a lighter note, she’d blame our celibate clergy. She figured that Mrs. Pastor and the children were probably fairly harsh critics over the lunch table. Our married deacon did tend to give fairly good sermons, but whether that was because Mrs. Deacon was a great critic or because the deacon was a legendary professor at a nearby university, we never did figure out.

  11. Rich, I also thought the congregation seemed really homogenous… not that that is always true in liturgical churches, but often those started as sort of ethnic clubs (like German Lutheran churches or the Syrian Orthodox church I went to as a child). I think in those cases the congregation needs to make an extra effort to look around and bring in people of different life stages, cultures and languages.. the homeless, sick and addicted .. it’s easy to love your neighbor if your neighbor looks, talks and acts just like you.

    Anyway, no doubt the people who made the video were aiming it at a certain kind of people. White suburban families. (Is that what Imonk was implicitly criticizing when he told them to step up the outreach?)

    Also, the Catholic world at large would dispute your contention that their tradition is only for the white and affluent believers. In most places, the masses of believers are working people, brown and poor.

    • Agreed. The Catholic Church is most alive and vibrant in Africa right now, most would say.

    • Anna,

      I wouldn’t speak for Imonk, but I think instead of him meaning they should step up the outreach to minorities that he was speaking more that they should step up the effort to show others what they have to offer.

      I had a very interesting experience two days ago when I dropped in to meet the pastor of the only LCMS church or any type of lutheran church in about five counties. He was a very nice guy. Very articulate, approachable, and interesting. But even as we talked he said like three times “Were not her trying to get other churches members.” Now I’m not suggesting that poaching members is the way to grow a church, but it was like he was going out of his way at times to not go after folks. We have two ECUSA churches in town he said they have had several families start to attend from them b/c of obvious things going on there. But he was careful to nottry to convince them to come to his church.

      I felt a little sorry for him. He seemed shocked that I, as a baptist pastor in our area, was so interested in his church and that I had stopped by. He said they set a booth up at the local fair several years back and that they were accosted by some local baptist preachers, to our shame, about all their erroneous beliefs. And that his kids were riduculed in school and accused of believing all sorts of things.

      Shameful on our part. Come on folks, these are the guys who started the whole Reformation. There is so much ignorance out there.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Rich, I also thought the congregation seemed really homogenous…

      “Homogenous” as in “White”? I don’t know much about Tulsa, but that might just reflect the demographics of Lutherans in Oklahoma. (Lutherans started out as Central Europeans, maybe they haven’t dispersed much ethnically.)

      The “all families” thing is a bit more disconcerting. As someone who never made it out of singleness, I have too many memories of being shunned and snubbed because I wasn’t married with children. Though it says “You’re single. We have no place for you”, it also appeals to the Christian anxiety (whose Baptist expression has been well-described on this blog) to make sure their children grow up Keeping the Faith. (Focusing on the Family and all that.)

      And from what I could see of the services, they didn’t seem too different from Mass. A typical Western-rite Liturgy.

      • I understand reaching out to singles and welcoming them, but I never have figured out all of yall’s anxiety about any church that seems to be “families.” I mean isn’t the family sort of the whole bedrock of society and such?

        • Austin,

          I am single, and what activities in your church would welcome me. Not any that are connected with children for sure. So many times, I’ve noticed that married folk are uncomfortable mixing with singles. Especially, since I probably have more in common with the man of the family instead of the woman. Also, the differences between younger singles, ie 20’s and 30’s who are still mate hunting is vast when compared to those who are not.

          I’m not seeking a group of people, just like me. But, where can I find those with similar interests, such as art , nature, etc. in the church.

        • Anna,

          I understand exactly what you mean. Trust me. I imagine it is somwhat similar to the situation my wife and I are in now with us having children and a lot of our friends not having any.

          You have to have a mix. Agreed.

          I just don’t like or understand when folks are critical of one aspect of a church that is working well. Not that you were.

  12. I wondered how long it would be before someone asked your questions Rich W.

    And I understand why the questions are asked.

    And these answers are coming from a guy with no liturgical background and who ministers in an area where a college degree makes me a great minority in my tradition.

    But I would argue that for centuries, not only uneducated, but often illiterate people have been worshiping in liturgical settings.

    I’m not sure why there seems to exist a resistance to liturgy in certain denominations, I would guess that it is b/c a lot of traditions have downplayed intellectualism and have embraced experiential methods.

  13. I’ve never been to a liturgical service. This one looked nice enough, but I don’t like to dress up. Is that petty? Probably, but I’m a jeans and t guy.. Don’t even own a suit.

    I like my current church. We do contemporary music and are pretty modern, but it’s a small church (about 100 people) and the pastor finished ever week with an ancient benediction. He’s also often quoting Christians from the church’s past — so while we don’t connect with the ancient church in music and liturgy, we do connect with their prayers, benedictons, and thoughts.

    • I have visited several Episcopal churches and every single one of them was ok with casual dress. If you’re interested in visiting, you can show up in a t-shirt and jeans and nobody will judge you. In California, honestly don’t be surprised to see some of the vestry in shorts and sandals!

      • Yeah, SoCal is probably pretty casual no matter what church you go to. The church in that video though showed most people dressed up — in at least slacks and a dress shirt, and many in suits.

        • Northeasterner says:

          I’m a Lutheran and I go to a very traditional and liturgical church.

          I wear a suit and tie to church every week. I think it is appropriate to the seriousness of the gathering and I hope to set an example for younger men in the church.

          But it is easy for me because I wear suits to work. We have other guys (and gals) who don’t own dressy clothes, and they’ve been coming to church for years wearing what they have. I would never dream of looking down on another Christian because of the clothes he or she wears. While I think it is a good thing to wear one’s “Sunday best,” it is far more important to come and recieve what Christ gives in worship, no matter what you are wearing.

    • The difference between a liturgical service and most evangelical services is not primarily a matter of “style.” Rather, it is the difference between meeting for worship and meeting for a fellowship and preaching service. Both are acceptable reasons for meeting, but they are different.

      Furthermore, there are theological differences underlying both types of churches that are significant.

      • I’ve honestly never been to a liturgical service (ever!), so I can’t really comment on how they may differ in “purpose” and theology.

        I will say that I think both liturgical and non would agree that all three are present in their meetings (fellowship, preaching, and worship) — so maybe you assume that the liturgical tradition emphasizes one and the non-liturgical the others.

        I’m certainly not in disagreement with the fact that most of the evangelical churches I’ve been to focus on preaching (it’s usually the majority of the service) and there has been a (unfortunate) direction in only calling the music worship. But I believe that the whole service, including fellowship is an act of worship.

        • We believe Christ is truly and substantially present and this drives how we operate ritually and ceremonially. It is not a matter of preference, style or radical form/content distinction. Rather than liturgical/non-liturgical categories, perhaps sacramental/non-sacramental would be more accurate.
          +Mason

      • I have found this to be true. At the Emerging church I attend with my wife, I get the sense that people are coming together for fellowship and preaching. At my Catholic parish, I get the sense that everyone is there for worship, and fellowship and preaching are a by-product.

    • Kenny, I go to a small Catholic church in Maine and lots of us wear jeans, even some of the guys who help with serving Communion. Some people dress up a bit more than that, but I don’t know if I hardly ever see someone wearing a suit. Maybe if their child is being baptized, but even then I think that is not usually the case.

    • I’m Catholic and I see people in everything from suits to jeans and a tee shirt on Sunday, although some Catholics do grumble about the . My parents’ parish tends to be a bit more formal, but suits are still not the norm. The most well-dressed congregation I’ve ever seen was at a local African-American Baptist church: I felt rather out of place as a blue-eyed brunette in business clothes!

  14. Internet Monk,
    Thanks for linking to the video.

    With regard to the comments, our congregation is far from perfect and a video is incapable of capturing every aspect of our community. We are diverse generationally (families and singles), but not racially. We are largely white, which is sadly not unusual for churches in Tulsa. This is not, however, the fault of the liturgy. For centuries, the Mass fed the faith of kings and paupers….

    Anyway, we made the video in an attempt to capture our commitment to sacramental theology and their ritual forms, which has been an attraction to non-Christians as well as Christians from other traditions. The video was meant as a tool for our members to use with their friends and families. Surprisingly, it has created a bit of a stir.

    Again, thanks for the link and blessings on your blog-
    +Pr. Mason Beecroft

  15. “Like I said Lutherans (and Anglicans and Methodists and…), get with it on the missional thing please. A lot of evangelicals need you.”

    Are you suggesting that if there was liturgical presence in the anglican/lutheran churches in your immediate area that you would worship there instead? Change membership?

    • I worship in an Anglican church when I have the opportunity, but I have to drive 1-2 hours to do so. I would love to have the option of worshiping at a liturgical church near where I live, but I don’t really play the “change churches and only go to one” game.

      • The Guy from Knoxville says:

        Michael,

        Can I ask again, at the risk of your blasting me, is there not any possiblility of your starting such a church in your area? I know we’ve discussed this before and I’m aware of the Appy culture (know it well) and all that goes with that. Is it work that’s an issue…. both perhaps? At any rate, it might be something to seriously consider. OK, blast away….lol!

  16. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention, Michael. Very impressive.

  17. Nice to see Ad Orientem orientation for the Liturgy. Hopefully this will be re instituted in Catholic Church soon.

    • Giovanni, stop using words us poor baptist have to google:)

      I had to look that up, and actually that is the one thing I saw I did not really like. I get the arguments for having the priest face the same way as the people, and I really get the ones for him not turning his back. I’m not picking a fight with you, b/c you obviously would win:)

      • Austin and Giovanni, I am glad the priest now faces the people. I am 55 and remember when the priest did not face us, though I was quite young. This seems more like a “family celebration.” When Jesus was celebrating the Last Supper with his disciples, he surely was looking at them as he lifted the bread and the cup. I think the priest should do the same. But for those churches that choose to do it the other way, that’s fine with me. I don’t think we all have to be alike and I am glad that we are not.

        • The priest does not turn his back to the people, but rather the Eucharistic community all faces the same direction. This is an important qualification. The practice of the entire congregation facing East symbolizes the eschatological hope of the Christian faith, looking forward to the return of Christ as well as directing us toward Christ present at the altar. When the priest faces the people, the focus is the community and their sentiments rather than the objective sacramental gifts. I would recommend Lang’s book “Turning to the Lord” for an introduction.
          +Mason

        • I am not so glad.

          I find that many of the abuses in the liturgy that occur in the Church are due to this one aspect of the mass which can not be found in any Vatican II document. This is rather a post conciliar indult which happens to mention the best way to incense the altar. To make a long story short VII never mentions the Mass facing the people, the Missals after VII are still written in a way in which it assumes that the Priest is facing the liturgical east.

          Austin you make a point that many people argue. However again given the abuses that have taken with the liturgy I believe that this “experiment” has been a disaster.

          Here is my reasoning:

          1. When the Priest faces the people rather than the liturgical east, the liturgy looses direction and sense of it self. Very simply you are not really sure where to look or if you are suppose to look at anything.

          2. For most Catholic Churches it is completely against the intention of the architecture again this goes to the point of orientation. The liturgy looses much when it does not use the architecture of the celebration correctly.

          3. Making the Priest the focal point of the Mass when it should be Christ. At a time you are suppose to be thinking God you are distracted by man, the liturgy looses its sacredness when we become distracted by the personality of the Priest.

          4. Meal rather than Sacrifice. It puts too much emphasis on community this is not a time for making friends it is a time to worship God and participate in the Sacred Mystery not a get together with your buddies.

          • I’m not too pushed about ad orientem; I’m just about old enough to remember the tail-end of the Latin Mass and I like that change in the Novus Ordo.

            But really it’s not something I’d go to the death for regarding the rubrics (there are other things that drive me nuts).

            Still, I am very heartened to see the small but ongoing and important changes in, for example, Papal Masses. The proper number of candles and crucifix on the altar? Communion on the tongue and kneeling, with proper use of the paten? Yes!!!

            And it was embarrassing how much squeeing I did at the first sighting of the cardinal-deacons vested in the tunicle as cope bearers. Honestly, it was 🙂

            I’m awaiting the new English translation of the Mass with much amusement; there has been some grumping over it already, with complaints about this is terribly, dreadfully unfair to make people change when they’ve become accustomed to one version of the liturgy.

            My response? Get over yourselves. This will, when introduced, be my fourth version of the Mass: the Latin Mass (last vestiges thereof); first translation into English (which, as a nine year old, I liked); the current one; and the new one (which, oddly enough, goes back in some ways to the first English translation, especially in the “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” before Communion, which will go back to “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof” as I learned it first time round).

            Still, a lot of this is me not getting over the sulking when I was seven, and we learned the long Confiteor for First Holy Communion, and just – just! – when everyone in the class finally knew it all off by heart, they changed it to the current version and we had to learn it all over again. No, I still haven’t forgotten nor forgiven 😉

          • First, I like Ad Orientem. I’ve celebrated Mass in that fashion a few times.

            But, I haven’t been Catholic long enough to know any ‘abuses’ of liturgy. So, personally, I wouldn’t call anything in the common liturgy a ‘disaster’ … and I’d make some of my own observations about your reasons.

            1. I look at the altar and/or close my eyes.
            2. I can agree with that, but my parish doesn’t use traditional church architecture so it may not be as obvious to me.
            3. Again, I look at the altar. But I think some of this has a lot to do with the personality of Priest himself – if he’s the kind who focuses the liturgy on himself, or on Christ? I’ve seen both types; luckily, my priest is of the latter type.
            4. I’ve not really noticed this.

        • Martha too many things that should never have been lost were lost. Too many people doing what they wanted without regard for what they needed.

          The reform of the reform is the recovery of that which is sacred.

  18. I’m trying…I’m trying.

  19. Here is how I feel and felt the first time I experienced liturgical worship. I’ve heard folks raised liturgical say similar things after their first “evangelistic” experience.

    It felt like a breath of fresh air. Like a person first does when they read a good book that opens up a whole new dimension that you can become totally emmersed in like the Chronicles of Narnia or even the Lord of the Rings.

    I felt cheated that I had went 30 years and had not even known this type of worship existed in the Protestant world. I felt a little angry that I had been decieved. I felt like I had been lied to by folks who had told me, most of them having never even tried it themselves, that such worship was dead and rote and useless.

  20. awesome clip, thanks for sharing that Michael. Grace does “become an oasis in a wasteland…”. It even meant more to me seeing a church like that in Tulsa. You got me hooked on the Mockingbird blog not too log ago and now I am seriously considering visiting a local Lutheran church (I attended a Lutheran school for 7th grade and was fascinated at the time with the young and jovial pastor who listened to the WRIF–a rock and roll station here in the Motor City).

    • Ken,
      I live in Warren, and would be happy to give you some insight on the local LCMS parish’s. Unfortunately many have abandoned the liturgy and gone the way of American Evangelicalism and the Church Growth Movement.

  21. I attend a medium-sized Southern Baptist church in Arizona. We have moved from being very traditional to more contemporary over the past decade. I don’t like it at all. I feel removed from God when I hear the drums pounding or the electric guitar blaring. I have often toyed with the idea of breaking free from the SB tradition I have immersed myself in for the past thirty-plus years and joining a Lutheran congregation. I would miss a traditional sermon, but I think everything else about a liturgical service would draw me closer to Christ. Thanks for this video.

  22. Alex,

    Lest you think Lutherans cannot deliver a sermon.

    http://www.htlcms.org/sermons/

    • Wow, 51 pages of sermons to listen to! I listened to two of them and they were very good…very Eucharistically-oriented. I will have to check back there more often. Thanks, Patrick.

  23. As a product of modern evangelicalism I find Grace Lutheran a refreshing and stable expression of faith. Less manipulation and coercion. I appreciate their contemplative approach to spirituality. A lot of us are hungry for something deeper and more stable.

  24. I have deleted some comments. The criticisms and comments about the make up of the Grace congregation were inappropriate and unnecessary. I did not post the video to have the pastor have to come over here and apologize. And the criticisms of liturgy and the general swipe at preaching in liturgical churches were also off base. I had to leave most of this to allow the other comments to make sense, but ALL the critical comments about Grace Lutheran were unncessary. Bloggers. Sheesh.

    • I’m sorry! Really. I didn’t mean any disrespect. Or to take things off-topic. I have bad taste.

    • I’m also sorry. I was not deliberately criticizing that particular church, just trying to express some concerns I have. You see I, like you, care greatly about the direction the church service takes. For me a top concern is that people of different ethnicity, economic status, intelligence level etc. all truly feel welcome. When I worked in the factory 2 yrs ago, I realized that so many of those people wouldn’t feel comfortable in the church I attended. It made me sad. Anyway, like I said, I’m sorry.

  25. Actually, the use of votive candles (candles lit by the laity) and incense is extremely rare in the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. To be honest, I’ve never encountered it before. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Lutheran pastor consecrate the elements with his back to the people (a pre-Vatican II practice). The only other Lutheran (LCMS) church I knew of that had votive candles was on who’s pastor is now an Eastern Orthodox priest.

    • You are correct. Unfortunately, we are a rarity. The LCMS history is defined by “not being Catholic” which has separated us from deep forms of sacramental piety.
      +Mason

    • So does that mean that there is some version in Lutheranism of what is called High Church (or even Anglo-Catholicism) in Lutheranism?

      Yeah, as an unrepentant Papist, I did chortle a little teeny bit over the incensing of the altar and the votive lights before the image, but only in an uncriticial, friendly, ecumenical way, I hasten to assure you! 🙂

  26. I would love it, but my wife and kids would feel out of place. That’s why we attend a Lutheran church with a mix of services: from traditional to contemporary. It’s what I call a compromise, but it works. I can still make the sign of the cross during the contemporary service without feeling weird.

    I think the ancient liturgy can adapt to varying cultures and ethnicities. Actually, what you see in this video is just one adaptation of the ancient liturgy that Ignatius, Hippolytus or the writers of the Didache would have known. It doesn’t have to look or sound like this to be have that connection with the ancient. I think Fr. Ernesto commented in another post regarding St. Augustine’s opinion concerning the use of instruments and organs in worship. That organ, which is synonymous with traditional worship, really does not fit ancient worship practices. That doesn’t mean that it is wrong, it just means that there is room for flexibility in worship practices. (Up until the time of J.S. Bach, organ design and sound was still in its infancy and was developing into an instrument which would compliment congregational worship, rather than overpowering it.)

    I think the human element needs to be brought back into worship. I’m all in favor of placing the focus on the altar, but by placing the focus at the front of the sanctuary, you spend the service staring into the back of other people’s heads. You look through or past people, rather than connecting with them. I keep wondering if the post-Vatican II Catholics only got it partly right: rather than moving the altar closer to the congregation, it should have been moved into the middle of the congregation, with the people surrounding it on all sides. I’m told that this would be too similar to a Buddhist temple. Frank Loyd Wright designed a church so that the the congregation faced each other, because he believed that God’s presence was among the people, not just at the front of the church. I know there are issues with this, bordering on pietism and Unitarianism (and heck! where would you put the projector screen? 🙂 ), but I think worship is a communion with not just God but with His people. God doesn’t inhabit the praise of His people, as if he floats on the musical notes as people sing; He inhabits the presence where two or more are gathered together in the name of His Son.

    The Eastern Orthodox folks probably have the best arrangement: the focus is forward toward the altar and iconistos, but without pews the congregation seems to connect with each other better. It seems like more of a true fellowship.

    • I also recall one of my most cherished worship experiences: gathering in a circle with my Catholic friends for noon-time mass at the college Newman center around the priest and the Eucharist. It was so intimate but still so sacred. And, yes, I probably bought myself a couple rounds through purgatory for receiving the Eucharist without being Catholic! I really didn’t know any better at the time. But now whenever I attend mass with friends, I only receive the priest’s blessing, which still means a lot to me.

    • (First post ever, please forgive me if this has been discussed before). One of my favorite and most formative experiences in the past few years – coming from my own evangelical background – has been to attend mass at St. Augustine’s House Lutheran monastery and retreat house in Oxford, Michigan. If I’m not mistaken, I believe they’re the only Lutheran monastery in North America. In any case, the prior, Fr. Richard Herbel, is of LCMS background, but other residents there have been of ELCA and even Episcopalian heritage. Being somewhat ecumenical in that respect, the Mass celebrated there – yes, they call it that – appears to be of Scandi origin, that is to say, Roman-style vestments, candles, the works – but with music coming from the LBW and a pipe organ. (The Hours, on the other hand, are done beautifully in Gregorian chant.)

      With respect to orientation, at the Eucharist, the congregants (usually fewer than 20 on the weekends, fewer than 10 on any given weekday) gather *around* the altar, while the priest remains facing towards the east (back turned toward the nave). I get a real sense of “family” in their doing so, with the focus remaining centrally upon the Eucharist, and without the feeling that the priest is “divorced” from the congregation. I suspect this would not work quite as well if there were say, 100+ congregants, but nonetheless, it seems to work for them.

      • You’re probably right. In a larger congregation, such an intimate setting would be strained.

        I scribbled out on a piece of paper what I thought such a church might look like. Sure enough, it has been done before:

        http://www.bloordale.ca/about_our_church.htm

        I have to do some research, but it seems that I saw some statistics which suggest that churches above 100 or so lose their intimacy, no matter what the format. I’m not why the push is always for bigger and bigger churches, rather than a network of smaller churches. I don’t agree with the current satellite/video church concept that is becoming so popular (anyone remember “Mosquito Coast” with Harison Ford?), but I think it is on the right track.

        • It still works in a somewhat larger setting. Our church runs 40-80 depending on the time of year, and we seat in the round. But then, we’re big free-church sacramentalist emerging weirdos.

  27. But the irony of all this is…most LC-MS Lutherans who are calling us to be more missional increasingly believe that becoming more missional means mimicking the hyped-up, watered down, non-confessional, non-liturgical, high on entertainment, low on Christ -centered -Gospel worship services of our wildly successful non-denominational evangelical neighboring churches. Missional in the LC-MS has become the new equivalent of Church Growth. Changing our worship style is endorsed by church leaders at the national and district level as the most effective way to reach the lost. Sad.

    I watch videos like this, read IMonk readers’ comments late into the night, and cry about how to help my church understand what we’d be giving up if we gave up the liturgy, hymns and the lectionary and got a rockin’ band for our late service every week so we can keep our youth from going to the mega-church up the road.

  28. Very interesting video. As a life-time Lutheran, it isn’t surprising or different. I was confirmed in the LCMS and am now a member of a ELCA church. Frankly, I wasn’t sure which body was represented as the liturgy and music were the same.

    As for “high church”, it varies. It can be seen regularly at the Chapel of the Resurection, at Valparaiso University, an independent Lutheran University. There the congregation turns to follow the Cross into the sanctuary, kneels during communion and has traditional liturgy. The added and great part, which is also a major part of the Lutheran tradition, is world class choral music. Unfortunately Catholics have for the most part lost this part of their history and I doubt evangelicals ever had it.

  29. I want to add one more thought. Contemporary style of worship loses so much of the reverance associated with tradition. Contemporary, by definition, means of the present, and therefore can’t last. I think it is a dying part of worship with more people discovering the beauty and deep meaning assiciated with confessional worship.

  30. Making a comment here before reading others, so sorry if I repeat.

    I’m from Tulsa. I drive by that church on my way to our (Catholic) Cathedral downtown. I like the video. It really rings true with why I joined the Catholic Church after growing up in a nondenominational “marketing-type” church. I really love the stability and Christ-focus that seems to be more a part of the older traditions of worship (Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, etc.)

    I guess I’m a bit surprised at the assumption that these older traditions are NOT missional? Maybe I’m confused about what is ‘missional’ but is there a reason to think that the members of these Churches aren’t living as missionaries in their communities? I’ll admit in my Catholic parish we don’t stress *church* outreach nor evangelism as much as my former Evangelical church, but isn’t that exactly what we appreciate about this video? We come together as a community to worship God, and then we go to love and server the Lord – to be Christ in our world.

    So is it the message or the medium? I mean, don’t we decry some Evangelical churches that focus on having the latest and greatest technology and marketing rather than focusing on authentic worship? But then, this church is making use of YouTube – some of the latest and buzziest technology and marketing available – to promote their message, and we all appreciate and admire it, right?

    I guess I don’t understand the call for these kinds of “traditional” churches to be more “missional” … I feel like they’re already missional, or to make any more concerted effort to be so would push them towards the kind of “missional marketing” faux pas.

  31. Very interesting discussion, as a Lutheran convert. Christian convert at that. I LOVE the liturgical thing, I purposely looked for that. No, the sermons aren’t boring, they are good.

    The main problem with certain Lutheran congregations is the mono-ethnic thing. Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favor of the seeker sensitive thing, or the American Evangelical rock band worship-trendy-or it was trendy, now it’s actually stale…..thing.

    But it’s the German/Scandi culture. They keep to themselves. Oh, the stories I could tell of my Italian American culture crashing head on with some people. (Wait, I do tell the stories)

    Here’s the thing, people….just go. Show up. Especially Italians. No, seriously, I’m not joking…PLEASE SHOW UP. 😉

  32. The Guy from Knoxville says:

    Folks, for what it’s worth, I really think (maybe, just maybe) we are seeing the beginnings of the turning out of the contemporary stuff that’s been happening. Did you notice how many of the folks in the vid were from “other” churches – particularly contemporary evan megas? This was a great vid and one can only hope this is the beginning of the end of this mess that contemporary worship has become in so many cases.