Going forward then, following Dr. Jeff Gibbs' address, was Rev. Larry Vogel. He sits on the synod's Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR). His focus was on the incarnational, the real presence of Christ in Word and Sacrament, and how that makes our worship truly Christian. We as Lutherans don't need to move "toward" this truth in our theology of worship. We're already there - or should be. The tension among us is that some claim that there is a conflict between sacramental worship and mission. Pastor Vogel says there should be no tension: "it (baptism) is mission: telling and living the new life of Christ's Body."
Besides, we have no choice. If we are to worship the true God, then we must worship according to His command. We must "let God have it His way". Though the world may differ, "it just won't do to make 'spiritual high' the goal or focus of our worship." Sadly, many churches today do just that in an effort to be "missional". And, in doing so, they prove that "worship customs affect doctrine, and are therefore not adiaphora."
So where then is the freedom? After all, we believe that differing customs are not necessarily divisive. (AC VII) The answer is found simply by looking at the Reformers: what they did, and what they did not do. They did not change the essence of worship, nor even its basic order and content; instead, they moved preaching and liturgy and hymnody into the vernacular, that many would hear and believe. Where this is done responsibly, we have good and healthy variety in the Church. Where it is done poorly, the Gospel suffers.
This, I believe, is where the rubber hits the road. And Pastor Vogel then pointed to this by highlighting what he called "Pastoral Realities": to be both "welcoming and faithful" in a "continaully changing America" while working with the "limited capabilities of musicians and pastors." We need wisdom to know what we can do well and effectively. As any musician can tell you, "it is one thing to have instruments - it is another to know how to use them."
Here I cannot help but end with a connection to our work here at Liturgy Solutions. Much of the talk at things like MtCow is conceptual. Very important and necssary, but not immediately applicable. It takes education, experience, skill, and discernment to distill and apply these principles in practical and productive ways. We at Liturgy Solutions serve to provide tools to help you do that.
Your choir is the most effective instrument you have for leading your congregation in worship. By choosing texts that sing faith into people's hearts, and by providing them music for those texts that is appropriate to the musicians and relevant to the hearers, they are truly able to magnify the Word and inspire the congregation's devotion.
May we use our instruments as conscienciously and intentionally as a good preacher uses his pulpit, that many may live the Eucharistic life. +