Saturday, July 30, 2011

Praising in common

In “Ninety-five theses on the state of liturgical renewal in the Lutheran churches in North America” Frank Senn concludes with two interesting questions: one explicit and one implied.

85. In an effort to manage the proliferation of worship styles and practices, Lutheran liturgical leaders have promoted a common ordo rather than a complete common liturgy.

86. This main sections in this ordo are: gathering, word, meal, and sending.


91. The question needs to be raised as to whether a common order is sufficient if common content is lacking. Historically Lutherans have been concerned about the relationship between the lex orandi (rule of prayer) and the lex credendi (rule of belief). In the nineteenth century, liturgical and confessional restoration went together. Lutherans have understood that practices influence theology.

92. There is a need today to identify those elements that constitute orthodoxia—the right praise of the right God.

93. The right God who is the object of Christian worship is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is a revealed name in scripture and not a metaphor.

94. Lutheran worship has always been trinitarian and Christological. Worship is addressed to God the Holy Trinity and the content of many songs is Christ ‘‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’’ This orthodoxy is challenged today by secular ideologies such as feminism and Pentecostal praise and worship songs that focus on Jesus and me. (p. 34)

The first and explicit question, from #91, invites us to consider whether a common ordo is sufficient in the absence of common content. The second and implied question (should the answer to the first turn out to be in the negative) invites us to consider what the common content should be. Dr. Senn has made the case for the use of traditional male language for God. What common content would you suggest?

Frank C. Senn is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, Illinois; Senior of the Society of the Holy Trinity; past president of The Liturgical Conference; and past president of the North American Academy of Liturgy. He is the author of many books most recently Lutheran Identity: A Classical Understanding .

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