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

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Baptismal Liturgy for Post-Modern Americans


P: We rejoice this day in the gift of new life which our heavenly Father bestows upon us in and through Baptism. We are pleased to share this celebration with many guests this day, and so begin by welcoming our visitors today.
C: We welcome you in the name of the Lord.
P: Yes, that's right, we are all glad you are here. And it is OK if you don't participate in the service. We know that the Lutheran service may be foreign to you. But don't worry:
C: We will sing the hymns for you.
P: And pray the prayers.
C: And confess the Christian faith.
P: You can just take it all in, and through the Word you will hear today, we trust that the Lord's will shall be done in your hearts.
C: That's how He works!
P: And if you feel so moved as to join us in worship, the bulletins you received on the way in have the order of service for this day.
C: And hymnals are in the pew racks in front of you.
P: Yes, this is a worship service.
C: We actually believe God will be present with today.
P: And so we consider this sanctuary to be "the Lord's house",
C: Not your house. Not our house. But God's house.
P: And so we do ask that you respect our customs, even though you may not understand or agree with them.
C: For this is where we worship our God. It is a holy place.
P: And so we ask that you not take flash pictures during the service.
C: Such distractions are offensive to us.
P: You may record the baptism with flash-free photography if you wish or wait until after the service, when I will be happy to re-enact any part of the Rite of Holy Baptism for your benefit. But during the service we want to keep the focus on what God is doing today through His Word.
C: For without God's Word, the water is plain water, and no baptism.
P: But with the Word of God, it is a baptism, that is a life-giving water, rich in grace,
C: And the washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit.
P: So, please, let us turn off all cell phones and flash bulbs and put away everything that hinders us.
C: that we all may hear His Word, and gladly hear and learn it.

the service then continues according to the rite as it appears on page xxx in the hymnal...


Yes, the paparrazi were at Bethany again today. Two baptisms in one service. All flash all the time. Our pastors don't want to say anything; our ushers aren't comfortable with addressing this either - even though they have directions about this in the usher manual and it has been brought up the last two usher meetings. And the Elders have put a statement in the bulletin, but the kind of folks who flash away in the Divine Service don't look at the bulletin. They are just here to observe (and record) the Baptism.

So what does one do? I realize my ersatz 'Creative Worship' - style liturgy is over the top. And I hope you got some chuckles out of it. I find the satire theraputic. But the problems remains, and we have no "solutions" for it here at LS. Anyone have any ideas?

I have a feeling we are going to have to endure more and more of this kind of a thing as our national culture become more post-Christian.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

I like the confessional aspects of this. It's like a re-dedication of the rite. I wish Joel Osteen would have something like this rather than "this is my Bible, I am what it says I am," blah blah blah.

I don't think it's out of order for the pastor at the beginning of the service, looking around at the high number of cameras, to remind everyone that they are first in a house of God, that baptism and Divine Service are acts of God rather than man, and we would appreciate it if no flashes were used in the photography of this divine event. Also, I think the pastor can also say that we use the hymnal, and if you get lost, grab your neighbor who'll help you through it.

Phillip said...

Sadly, more and more folks need instruction these days about the Divine Service.

Isn't it ironic that people are more schooled than ever, and yet are so challenged by the expectation that they follow a simple order of service and find pages in a book when so instructed to do?