Thursday, May 22, 2008

Open, Spring 2008 Issue

Spring 2008 Issue of OpenThe Spring 2008 issue of Open is now online in Adobe PDF format.

In this issue of Open, “What is Baptism for?” is the organizing question, whether it is directly addressed by our authors or not. The gifts of the font in each of our lives reaches far beyond its immediate environs, and when a church community begins to really live out the power of God’s blessing in water, we all take note.

Articles including those on "Public Work" at St. Paul's Chapel in New York City, When Signs Signify by Louis Weil, Baptism or Confirmation? by Joe Morris Doss and an accompanying report by Robert Brooks, Against Inclusivity by Juan Oliver, and Going to Church in the First Century by Jamie Howison. The articles are listed below and this blog is intended to be a place where we can dialogue with the authors and one another on the ideas presented in the journal of the Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission.

Open: Good Liturgy at 9/11

Real Stories of Good Liturgy: Saint Paul's ChapelThe Spring 2008 issue of Open includes the latest of Donald Schell's ongoing look at real stories of good liturgy.

What might worship might look like that is a “Public Work” for pilgrims who visit the 9/11 memorial at St. Paul’s Chapel adjacent to Ground Zero in New York City? Donald Schell describes the power liturgy has to create meaningful connections between worshippers and visitors pouring off tour buses. The article is online here: Real Stories of Good Liturgy.

Open: When Signs Signify

When Signs SignifyThe meaning of our sacraments must be transparent, reminds liturgical theologian Louis Weil. We see, feel, touch, hear and smell the rites of the Church, and we experience the transformation they effect. Anything less than that trivializes those sacramental rites. The full text of the article is online here in Adobe PDF format: When Signs Signify

Open: Baptism or Confirmation?

Baptism or CommunionBishop Joe Morris Doss asks whether we really believe that Baptism is at the heart of Christian ministry in the Church. In thishistorical review, he warns us that recent General Convention actions are returning Confirmation to a central role we decided against over thirty years ago.

As a companion piece to Doss’ article, Robert Brooks reports on recent years’ efforts to respond to the canonical actions of General Convention, and the amazing coalition of theologians, bishops, educators, parish clergy and others who have been energized to bring Baptism back to the center of our understanding of ministry, while addressing the needs of the Church for adequate formation and leadership training.

The full text of the two companion articles is online in Adobe PDF format here: Baptism or Confirmation?

Open: Against Inclusivity

Against InclusionJuan Oliver begins his article “As a Latino Episcopalian, I am against being ‘included.’” What are the special liturgical gifts of bicultural Episcopalians, and what are the opportunities for the vast majority of “monocultural” Episcopalians? The full text is online in Adobe PDF format here: Against Inclusion.

Open: Going to Church in the First Century

Going to Church in the First Centruy
Jamie Howison’s parish in Winnipeg—already highly identified as a table-centered, Eucharistic community—experiences a richer engagement with the meaning of Eucharist as they gather to practice pre-Nicene liturgies. The full text of the article is online in Adobe PDF format here: Going to Church in the First Century

Open: Faith on the Ground

Faith on the GroundAmy McCreath introduces us to the chaplaincy at the University of Michigan which finds that the practical meaning of Christian living is revealed through intentional engagement with the lives and stories of the saints.

In the same file, Rebecca Wolf, a student at the University of Michigan, preaches on how the story of Constance and Her Companions reveals the meaning of her own choices and vocation as a follower of Jesus.

The two are online in a single Adobe PDF file: Faith on the Ground

usus antiquior

The blog of the New Liturgical Movement within the Roman Catholic Church shows a group excited about reform the reform. They wax eloquent on turning back the tide of changes brought on by the Second Vatican Council. Typical is this from an interview with the Rev. George William Rutler, who is frequently seen on the EWTN network:
As any reading of the Pope's liturgical logic will show, the "reform of the reform" is all about the beauty of holiness, without which ritual externals are not much more than cosmetic. The holiness of worship is at the heart of the true renewal that the Second Vatican Council intended when it spoke of the liturgy as the "source and summit" of redeemed life. Without a full dedication of mind and heart, the reform of the liturgy would quickly degenerate into a vain aestheticism little different from the aesthetic movement which marked the decay of the Victorian age.

There are Christian denominations that have gradually cloaked their abandonment of Gospel truths in outward ceremonials which become a kind of fancy dress paganism. A defect in some of the recent liturgical innovations has been an exaggerated emphasis on affective piety as a substitute for objective sacrifice. The sturdy language of the traditional texts assumed that the "ex opere operato" fact of the Sacrifice of the Mass will issue from and lead to an evangelical expression of this Sacrifice in the dedication of the worshipers to Christ's commission: to proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Faith in works of mercy.

I think one way to get this across is for the liturgical calendar to embrace the many new saints who have lived the Eucharistic life in the challenges of modern conceits. Otherwise the sacred tradition will only be an indulgence of nostalgia.
Another post that offers a good example of what the New Liturgical Movement intends is this one from May 20: Measuring and Implementing the Reform of the Reform with practical advice on how to get the altars back against the wall and the priests' backs facing the congregation once more.

The group is a far cry from the baptismal theology we so treasure. Is this reforming the reform an RC phenomenon? There is certainly the Prayer Book Society within Anglicanism, but is there any sense that they are gaining traction as, for example, Latin Mass proponents have within the Roman Catholic Church?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

There is no going back

Henry Breul was a leader of liturgical renewal in The Episcopal Church for forty years, and served as a longtime editor of its publication, Open. In 1991, he and his wife, Sally, retired to a small community in Maryland where the parish church was not reformed in its worship. But he felt strongly that one attends one's parish church and so they remained. Here is a reflection he wrote for the Fall 1991 issue of Open on going back to an earlier piety:
I think it is difficult for those of us immersed in the liturgical reforms of the past twenty years to understand the profound changes that have taken place. We have become used to many things that have, as a result, disappeared from our consciousness and become part of the furniture, as it were. When one of these young people moves into a "time warp" there is culture shock lurking in the pews. Imagine, if you will, a lovely, riverside community with colonial houses and a slow living pace. A place where all the store clerks are genuinely helpful and where people stop to "chin" on the streets. A place where blacks avert their eyes from white gaze and the supermarkets are filled with farm folk on weekends, folk who speak a special patois related to the watermen and the colonial past. Put all this together and then place yourself at the 8 a.m. eucharist in the parish church—liturgically it is 1938. The priest faces that wall, he wears brocaded Barclay Street vestments, he reads all the lessons, moving from lectern to pulpit, he says all the "Amens," and nobody passes the peace.

Now what? Does one simply leave? Look for another church in the next county? Surreptitiously read Rite Two as he reads Rite One? Or hunker down and let it all flow over one? There are more options, but let's not get into Rome or Presbyterianism. If one stays and participates it is necessary to rediscover the piety that served well in seminary. In other words, if you accept the time warp of the streets and the market place, the concomitant liturgical time warp is part of the deal, and it is surprising how easy it is to slip back and worship in a past mode, even secretly rejoicing in the forgotten richness of an outmoded piety.

All this triggers questions. Is it possible that the ethos of the 1930s remains in worship because it still speaks to a cultural backwater? Do people who meet almost daily in a small town find the Peace a very exciting option? People who have a strong sense of community are hard to persuade that the eucharist is community building. It is for them, rather the celebration of individualism with everybody, including the priest, doing their own thing.

The late medieval problems of Rite One become clear when one returns to it after a long absence. Indeed, Cranmer's doctrines of the atonement become offensive to the alert theological ear. The one thing that comes back loudly in all this is that there is no going back. Even a backward, charming community deserves better of its worship that Rite One offers. Cable TV has arrived, drugs have appeared, four people were shot in the public park last Friday, and the signs of the late twentieth century are everywhere. It is time for the local parish to move toward reform.

Those battles that many of us fought years ago are about to break out here in the midst of elms, formal gardens, and boutiques. Retirement seems to be getting more interesting.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Shape of Mission

In the most recent issue of the APLM online magazine, Open, the Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss writes The Shape of Liturgy is the Shape of Mission. He asks in that article:

I will offer two statements of faith. Consider which is the most important statement for you personally?

  • We are called to embrace this life, as it is, as a gift, and to make gratitude for this gift the basic attitude of our life (especially through belonging to a people of thanksgiving), becoming at home in the world and achieving the fullness of our humanity as lovers – finally, lovers of all that is, of the entire created order.
  • We are to make this a better world. This world is not the final reality or our true destiny. We are to resist evil, identify where there is wrong and name it, support the weak, the oppressed, and the deprived; we must strive for that justice, compassion, and righteousness which reflects the inner life of God and which finally will be established when the prayer is realized that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.
The retired Bishop of New Jersey goes on to show how the statements are not only mutually compatible but that they are in fact both essential. He shows this through the liturgy of Justin Martyr. The full text of the article is here: The Shape of Liturgy is the Shape of Mission.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Wonder and Power

At his blog, A New an Unending Kind of Life, the Rev. Rob Bell writes, "Many evangelical Christians disdain liturgy as too "high church," but Mark Galli thinks that's starting to change. Mr. Galli, an Anglican and senior managing editor of Christianity Today, urges Christians to rediscover traditional liturgy in his new book, Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy."
In today's individualistic culture, we need liturgy to establish us in community. In a culture that values spontaneity, liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a culture that assumes truth is a product of the mind, liturgy helps us experience truth in both mind and body. In a world demanding instant gratification and immediate relevance, liturgy gives us patience to perceive a deeper relevance and joy that the larger culture can hardly perceive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Do we really mean it?

The following is from the conclusion to the APLM booklet Holy Orders: The Ordination of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons
The contrast between what the rites of ordination say and mean, and the way in which bishops, priests, and deacons exercise their ministries today in the church is conspicuous to say the least. The present rites may in time shape a richer understanding of orders, just as the ordinal of 1552 brought the Anglican Communion to its present understanding of ordained ministry.

Those responsible for planning and carrying out ordinations in dioceses need to look at the rites carefully and thoughtfully. The focus of the rite is not an ecclesiastical Academy Awards ceremony, but rather a celebration of the ministry of the whole people of God in that place. The ordination of a bishop offers an opportunity for an entire diocese to understand baptism as well as to understand bishops. There is usually ample time for education on the meaning of the rites to be studied in the diocesan paper as well as parish education programs. It is also possible to do the same for ordinations of priests and deacons. If an ordination is seen as the recognition of the achievement of an individual, then the integrity of the rite has been lost along with the gospel.

The paschal mystery, which is the heart of the gospel, is enacted in every baptism, is present in every eucharist, and is manifested in every ordination. The mystery is Christ making himself known in the people whom he calls to be his own. There is no greater gift.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You are what you have received

... I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord's Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend His Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received.
—Augustine of Hippo in his Sermon 227

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Wikipedia: Liturgical Renewal

There is a rather lengthy entry at Wikipedia on Liturgical Renewal here: Liturgical Renewal. Any thoughts on changes or additions we should make to correct or fill out the entry?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Let's Get a Conversation Started

Since 1946, Associated Parishes has worked to further the dialogue on issues vital to liturgy and mission. Since the creation of this group amazing changes have followed. Churches across North America now take for granted the primacy of Holy Eucharist in Christian worship and the parish life. We have seen the restoration of the catachumenate, the return of the diaconate as a full and separate order of ministry and the use of inclusive language.

Today we are once again leading the way with a major leap forward for baptismal theology. APLM and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori are jointly sponsoring a national consultation on the implications of baptismal theology as it is envisioned by the Book of Common Prayer (USA) and the Book of Alternative Services (Canada). This includes liturgical scholars and practitioners, bishops, parish clergy and Christian educators representing the diversity of the Church. The goal is to provide educational resources to equip people to fully implement in parish and diocesan life the baptismal vision long championed by APLM.

This blog is created as a means to keep the conversation going. You are encouarged to comment on the items posted here, but are further challenged to write blog entries of your own. To request permission to be added as a regular contributor to this blog, email frank[at]kingofpeace[dot]org.