The seed for this issue was planted when a member of the Editorial Council described two Lutheran worship services he had attended. One was at a Synod Professional Leaders’ Conference. The other was at a daily chapel service at a Lutheran Seminary.
In both cases the liturgies were what could be called “contemporary” approaches to worship. And in both liturgies the Scriptural Words of Institution were replaced with what could be described as informal interpretations. The words used at the Professional Leaders’ Conference were not printed and appeared to be extemporaneous. The words at the Seminary liturgy were printed. They are:
On the night in which he was betrayed,
Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples. He blessed the bread saying,
When you break bread together, remember my body given for you.
Then he blessed the wine, saying,
When you drink wine together, remember my blood shed for you,
for the forgiveness of sins.
The worshipper asked, “How far from the words of Jesus, reported by three Gospels and St. Paul, can we go and still be faithful to Christ’s intent? Are there norms that Lutherans who are bound to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions must observe?” Two respected Lutheran theologians, the Rev. Dr. Michael Burk and the Rev. Dr. Frank Senn offer answers. Burk is Director for Worship of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Senn is a liturgical scholar and Pastor of Immanuel, Evanston – and a regular columnist for Let’s Talk. (His observations appear as his column in this issue.) There is enough tension between their answers to stir further discussion.
What are the implications for unity within the One Body when we understand one another’s “grammar,” that is, when we observe substantially the same norms? The Rev. Andrew Leahy comments on the common Lutheran/Roman Catholic liturgical heritage in the context of what Lutherans and Roman Catholics can and can not do together. He is Pastor of Prince of Peace, Chicago Heights, and a member of the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Covenant Commission of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod and the Archdiocese of Chicago. Pr. Leahy’s article is based on a chapter in a proposed book by members of the Commission.
Would you be surprised if, after giving some thought to the benefits of the common shape of Lutheran and Roman Catholic worship in terms of John 17, you opened up the morning paper and saw the headline: “Are Lutherans pretending to be Catholic to lure Hispanics?” Actually, as many of you will remember, the headline did appear last August in the Chicago Sun Times. The Rev. Keith Forni saw the need for a theological answer and offers a critique of the Sun Times story in terms of the common heritage of Lutherans and Roman Catholics as seen from the perspective of a Lutheran Latino ministry. He is Pastor of Santa Cruz, Joliet.
How is worship related to evangelism? Frank Senn has offered answers to this question for a dozen years, in particular in The Witness of the Worshiping Community: Liturgy and the Practice of Evangelism, published in 1993. Joyce Bowers provides a synopsis of this book through selected quotes from the book and reviews of the book.
In keeping with the normativity of the Biblical text, the Rev. Dr. Wolf Knappe reminds preachers of the importance of examining the original languages in their sermon preparation.