The History Theology And Practice Of Christian Worship - Part 3
Last week, once again, we had a technical failure when it came to the audio recording of the class. We will try one more time, tomorrow. If it works, it will be posted here, and the recordings will continue. What I'd like is a GoPro camera setup that takes care of all those problems, and gives us a video recording as well. It would be nice to post it on the chruch website.
Last week we didn't get as far as we had hoped, but that's okay, because there is no hurry. We are sharing in an exquisite meal with the richest foods, and finest wines, what's the hurry?
Each week we open the class with one of the prayer services from LSB. Last week we prayed Responsive Prayer I on Page 283. It's a beautiful Service that one can pray alone, or with the family. Once you get to know this book you'll want to have one at home as the resource for all occasions.
We did sing the Kyrie and Gloria last week from LSB. We already know them well, that was no problem, but we did more. We discussed their liturgical usage and placement.
Following the Confessional Service and Absolution, and the Introit, the baptized sing the "Kyrie Eleison" (Latin for Lord have mercy.)
"Lord haver mercy upon us, Christ has mercy upon us, Lord have mercy upon us." The Kyrie is the remnant of a once longer litany that is no longer included in TLH or in LSB Setting 3 (which is the same as P. 15 from TLH). A portion of that litany is included in Divine Service Settings 1 & 2 in the LSB. And it's a lovely litany. None the less, in liturgy or as a standalone prayer there is none finer, none more faithful to what Christians should pray, and none as easy to remember.
"Lord have mercy." It is a prayer for all occasions! One that God will always answer with a resounding Yes in Christ Jesus; for he is the Yes of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20) The Kyrie is fitting in worship, as we learn from the account of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:10 and following. And it is the pefect prayer when we can think of no other prayer to pray, when we are too busy, overwhelmed, afraid, in desparate need or fresh out of faith, hope or courage. Then pray, "Lord have mercy upon us!" And he will. Every time!
It seems logical that this liturgical element is directed to the Trinity, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus, Lord, Christ, Lord. Three persons, one God, of majesty co-equal. I say "seems logical" because some liturgiologists have asserted that it is a triple address to Jesus only. That could be, but either way there are no better words to pray, and I suggest we take it as the former. A prayer to the God in whose name we are baptized.
We also looked at the Gloria in Excelsis. The Gloria is taken from the Christmas story in Luke 2:14 ff. It is the song that the angels sang when the Son of God "was made man." When Christ was born among us in the flesh. Our flesh! The internal logic of placing it here is that as Christ was born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, each Lord's Day he again appears in the flesh before his people: on the altar, under the forms of bread and wine. The Groom comes to us to lead his baptismally-cleansed Bride in worship of the Father. To present her to God as a spotless Bride without any spot or blemish of sin, because he who is God's Lamb cleansed her by his blood, on the cross and at the font. You are that Bride. And so we glorify God "with one voice," literally. (Romans 15:6)
We also learned a bit about rubrics. Rubrics are the "rules" of worship. They consist of certain actions and movements that help us to better understand what our worship is about. Rubrics are not God-made, but nor are they man-made. They are men-made. Made by the people of God's church over the centuries. They are used as is seen fit according to local custom or need. One such rubric is omitting the Gloria during Advent, so that we can anticipate singing it on the annual celebration of the Lord's Birth. Christmas. Rubrics are important, but they are not the heart of our worship. The Eucharist is. Eating the sacrifice of God is!
Left over from the previous week, however, was a discussion on three words: Lutheran, Service and Book. We will look more deeply at all three this week. Let me say only this at the moment that by Service we mean worship. That is the event we assemble for each week, worship. Lutherans have come to call it the Divine Service in our day. But we could just as well call it: The Service, The Mass, The Divine Liturgy, Liturgy, the Order Of Holy Communion (as it was named in TLH p. 15). The name is important, and the history of each is a stimulating study. But what is most important is that we understand whatever name we use.
As regards Lutheran, again this post is getting longish, but the Lutheran Service is a version of the church's historic Divine Service or Mass, that has been purged of its pre-Reformation errors. The list is too long to go into here. But come to class to learn more. Pastor Mills in Akron calls it: The Mass - The Lutheran Rite. I like that, it covers a lot of important ground.
And we still need to talk about: Book. In an era of hyper-rapid technological change some feel that we don't even need a book, a hard copy that is, but that Divine Service can be printed each week in a service folder, projected on a screen, or be followed on an app by each person on his cell.
Finally, if you can't make the class due to work schedule, or some other inability to be there on Sundays at 9:00 AM, I am happy to meet with you at another other time during the week. Indeed, if one or more of you asks for a weekday class let me know your desired time and I will try to accomodate it. Only don't let laziness, pride, spiritual anorexia or any other reason keep you away. This subject matter is too wonderful. The gift too good!