Monday, June 23, 2008

A Way and Style of Life

The APLM booklet Parish Eucharist says the following about the sending out that takes place at the conclusion of the liturgy and how this gets lived out in the week ahead:
It has been said that the most sacred moment in the Liturgy comes when the Body of Christ, having been fed by the Body of Christ, goes forth to be the Body of Christ in the world. We have been nourished by the Lord's Body and Blood, and now it is time to take up the Lord's life and work. We pause briefly to give thanks for the loving act of feeding us and to ask for guidance as we set out in mission....

The Liturgy is over, but the Eucharist is not. At the beginning of this booklet we observed that Eucharist is what the parish does. It is that...and more. It is the way the parish lives: thankfully, joyfully, as a participant in the resurrected life of Christ and servant to the world. That which we have just symboled in the Liturgy gets worked out in the day-to-day life of the parish and its members. That daily life, in turn, becomes the offering of our next liturgical celebration. Eucharist is a way and a style of life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrant as Intruder

Any practice which communicates the notion that the leaders in public worship are "stars" is basically and desperately counterproductive, whether the leaders in question are clergy or musicians or any other ministers. Desirable gifts in the leader are no excuse. If her or his style in the particular role fails to communicate a sense of prayerful performance, of being (first of all) a worshipper and a member of a worshipping assembly, then he or she is not a leader but an intruder. And the gifts of such a one or such a group damage rather than enhance worship.
—Robert Hovda, Worship, March 1990 (emphasis above in the authors)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Buildings shape theology

Don't argue with the building,
the building always wins.
—Louis Weil

In his essay, "Rending the Temple Veil: Holy Space for Holy Community" for Church Publishing's book Searching for Sacred Space, Donald Schell writes,
Saint Grogory of Nyssa, San FranciscoToday most Christian buildings shape our communities to a theology Jesus rejected. Christians who remember and want to live Jesus' teaching and practice must ask if the Middle Ages or even the Reformation or the Vatican II reforms offer us spaces for worship that are adequate to an authentic community and lively sacraments. Like it or not, the church building and furniture literally will shape the community's ways of gathering and the ways people will see one another. Brick and mortar theology, our walls, our furniture, and our seating will define relationships, lines of communication, and all the invisible dynamic aspects of community. Whether our church buildings appear loving, daring, inviting, or forbidding, each one holds a church community and defines how it can act or move.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Individualists are incapable of worship

The awesomely corporate act of public worship assumes, requires, demands a celebrating assembly of believing persons who have not lost the sense of being part of humanity, the sense of relation to, interdependence with, even identification with every other human being—as consequences of the love of God. People who approach that act, who gather on Sunday as self-contained unites, individuals for whom all others are merely competitors or makes, are simply incapable of it. Any sensitive pastoral minister has long since observed that the Sunday assembly's liturgical problems (participation, engagement, understanding, experience) cannot be solved by liturgical reforms alone.

Of course the church needs continuing liturgical reform. The bed of a living tradition has to be dredged constantly, as a maxim has it. One of the glories of this confusing and promising century is the resumption of that invaluable service in so many parts of the faith communities of Judaism and Christianity. No question about it. Pressing those issues is a most important contribution to the life of faith.

But it is insufficient in itself. the cancer of Western and American individualism infects that Sunday assembly and produces as church that is barely capable of celebrating the eucharist or any other liturgical rite. We cannot blame the liturgy for the fact that we who celebrate it, the faith community, are so mesmerized by the idol of rugged individualism that it is dreamy to call us a "community" at all. It is quite impossible to see in our corporate life a community of biblical faith committed to witnessing in the world the advent of God's reign of justice and peace.
—The Rev. Robert Hovda, Worship, January 1991