Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HOW DEEP HOW BROAD HOW HIGH (Thoughts from "MtCow")

Much of the language used to discuss worship at the Model Theological Conference on Worship (MtCow), was centered on "diversity", "choices", and "styles". Clearly the focus was on the second half of the constitutional article cited in the resolution that authorized this gathering: "to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices which are in harmony with our common profession of faith." (LCMS Const. Art. III 7b)

But the first part of this article, also cited in the convention resolution, is that the LCMS has as one of its objectives to "encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice." This would be Art III 7a.

Cultivating "diversity" and "choices" and "styles" reinforces a tension between variety and uniformity that need not be. Instead, if we are serious about responsible practices which are in harmony with our common profession of faith, I submit that we should instead speak about the "breadth" of the Divine Service, the "depth" of the Divine Service, and even the "height" of the Divine Service.

Were we to do that, we would maintain the focus on the uniformity we are constituted to strive for, and also embrace the various practices and customs that are a legitimate and responsible part of our living heritage. "Breadth" would acknowledge the various languages and cultural situations in which worship occurs. "Depth" would encompass the variety that is provided for within the rubrics - just as a basic dance such as a waltz can be simple or elaborate and still be a waltz. And "Height" would embrace the arts in service of the Gospel.

Height. Breadth. Depth. Of Christ. For us. Just as in the wonderful hymn "O Love, How Deep". Just as the Scriptures speak (Eph 3):

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family [3] in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Isn't this what worship is all about?


NBeethe said...

I think you hit the nail right on the head with this post. I especially loved this comment: "just as a basic dance such as a waltz can be simple or elaborate and still be a waltz." Thank you for the post.

Phillip Magness said...

You are most welcome, Nathan.

Thanks for reading and posting. It's getting lonely out here in the blogosphere now that so much traffic has moved to Facebook. (!)

On the plus side, Fine Tuning was chosen by Todd Wilken as last week's "Blog of the Week".

We have an icon to put up as a reward, which I'll load up as soon as I have time to figure out how to do it!

Clint Hoff & Family said...

Thanks for the good post. I am reminded of God's institution of the feast of unleavened bread in Exodus 13. The big point comes in 13:14 when the son asks "what does this mean?" to which the Father is supposed to respond with the point that they worship the way they do so that they might remember and learn God's redemption of the Israelites from Egypt. In the same way the Divine Service serves the same function, to instruct people of our deliverance from sin and death. So, thank you Cantor Magness for being a voice giving the answer to the question, "What does this mean?"

IggyAntiochus said...

Clint: Thanks for the way-back historical reminder.

Cantor Magness: Congrats on blog of the week! Does Fine Tuning and Liturgy Solutions have a facebook presence?

PMagness said...

No FB presence yet. Been holding off - despite several invitations - because I just don't have anymore TIME in my life.

But it appears that folks are leaving the blogosphere for FB, so maybe I need to move over....