We have been nourished with Word and Sacrament. We have received the benediction. A lone voice cries out, “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” We respond, “Thanks be to God.”
I always shout this response. Sometimes this shout is an affirmation. Moved by proclamation and fortified by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I am ready to go into the world in the name of our risen Lord. At other times this shout covers confusion. Underneath the bravado is the unspoken timid response, “OK. How?” My guess is that I am not alone in this unuttered question. Those of us who sit in the pews often have an underdeveloped vocational self-understanding. We live our ecclesial lives in a limbo created by a residual category. We are the unordained, the laity.
A useful summary statement of this problem appeared in a witty message on “Liturgical Ranks” that made the rounds on the Internet about a decade ago. I have seen it in various forms on Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox distribution lists. Whatever the variation, a great deal of attention is given to precise definitions of the office, function, and vesture of bishops, deans, presbyters, and deacons. After endless details(including more than anyone ever wanted to know about dalmatics), the rest of the Body of Christ is dismissed with an economy of words: “The Laity, the Holy People of God (a.k.a ‘us common folk’) show up from time to time and we tend to wear whatever we please.”
At the end of this brief essay I will pose several propositions for further discussion as we seek an understanding of the nature and role of the laity, but first I will present a little etymology, a little history, and (perhaps) a little theology as an invitation to the reader to think along with me and talk with others about the laity (or perhaps more correctly, the unordained) as something more than a residual category—the lumpen masses in the pew to whom ministry is directed. Basic to all that follows is my assumption that talk of vocation, clerical or lay, must start with some discussion of ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church—that doctrine that Carl Braaten asserts is the most underdeveloped part of our theology. 1 One may find ecclesiology a strange starting point for discussing the vocation of the laity, but a search for the origins of the word “laity” leads us to the earliest documents on the doctrine of theChurch. These documents immediately begthe question whether speaking of the unordained as the laity is correct. The term is derived from various portions of the New Testament where λάω τοϋΘεοϋ 2 (people of God) or λαόςΘεοϋ (God’s people) is used as a collective and corporate term just as “Church,” “Body of Christ” and “priesthood” are part of the collective identity of those who have been called, baptized, and sealed. 3 Indeed, both etymologically and ontologically, the New Testament literature leads us to think of ourselves in terms of a peoplehood of the redeemed called apart from the world and sent back to it in order to proclaim redemption.4 Obviously, we know from Acts and various epistles that the Apostolic Church contained a variety of ministerial leaders including bishops, presbyters, deacons,teachers, and others. The point is that they were a part of a corporate whole known as the Church, the Body of Christ, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God’s people. It would be a peculiar ecclesiology that placed those in ordained ministry outside the laity, or People of God.
Toward the end of the first century (c. 96 AD) Clement of Rome used the term for the collective identity of all Christians (laity) as a separate identity for the unordained.5 Clement’s writings achieved great popularity among those Christians who left written material by the end of the second century AD. His views had obvious impact on Irenaeus and Eusebius. The division Clement suggests within the Body of Christ is obviously more than a simple functional classification. It was perhaps inevitable that the Church, always tempted to be of the world as well as in it, would adopt a hierarchical structure with assumed ontological differences between those in Holy Orders and those who were not. The relocation of the priesthood from the entire Body of Christ to a specific location within it was perhaps the most dramatic outcome of this development. When Church and secular society became increasingly intertwined following the fourth century, secular hierarchies (consisting of certain ranks of laity) and ecclesiastical hierarchy often had similar interests, but they could just as often collide. By the end of the 13th century, some sources suggest a state of tension between those in Holy Orders (including members of Religious communities) and the laity. The prime example is Boniface VIII’s Papal Bull of 1296 entitled Celricos Laicos, which begins: “Antiquity teaches us that laymen are in a high degree hostile to the clergy, a fact which is also made clear by the experiences of the present times; in as much as, not content within their own bounds, they strive after what is forbidden and loose the reins in pursuit of what is unlawful. Nor have they the prudence to consider that all jurisdiction is denied to them over the clergy – over both the persons and goods of ecclesiastics.”6 Thus, in this specific context, the abstract terms “sacred” and “secular” were given concrete form and anthropomorphized into “clergy” and “laity.”
In the Sixteenth Century the Reformation did a great deal to modify the tension. Luther’s 1523 treatise Concerning the Ministry effectively reversed Clement’s conflation of presbyter and priest, particularly in the section entitled “A Priest is not identical with Presbyter or Minister—for one is born to be priest, one becomes a minister.”7 In the Lutheran confessional literature we find references to reception of the chalice by the laity8 and lay absolution 9, but the division into clerical and lay status was still palpable. The Formula of Concord: Epitome (1576) contains the following:
“Since these matters also concern the laity and the salvation of their souls, we subscribe Dr. Luther’s Small and Large Catechismsas both of them are contained in his printed works. They are “the layman’s Bible” and contain everything which Holy Scripture discusses at greater length and which a Christian must know for his salvation.”10
Certainly this brings the laity into theological discourse, albeit at an elementary level, but the distinction between the ordained and the unordained remains and clearly implies differing levels of sophistication in matters of the faith. The point here is not to suggest that the distinction between the ordained and unordained was incorrect, but to point out that the unified Body of Christ implied by the term “People of God” was not thus recovered.
The laity have occupied a greater role in the Church in recent centuries. Calvin’s Reformation opened ordained ministry to a larger number of people and a wider set of functions in the Church, although ordained deacons and ruling elders in the American Presbyterian churches are still referred to as “laypersons.” The circumstances of the Church of England in the colonies of North America led to increased executive and financial power of the laity in parishes of that communion. The voluntary associations of a variety of British-origin denominations in nineteenth-century America placed laypeople, including women, in key decision-making positions in Christian education and home mission efforts. Among American Lutherans, laypeople since the late nineteenth century have been called upon to lend their secular expertise (particularly in economic and business affairs) to the Church.11 The irony here is that this reliance upon the expertise of the laity increased as the word “laity” came to become synonymous with “amateur” in a wide variety of professions.12 Thus the Church came to rely on professionals who were far from laity in their occupations (the avoidance of the word “vocation” here is deliberate). But the laity, both by clerical perception and lay self-definition, continued to be defined as unsophisticated in the realm of faith.13 In large part the perception and self-definition were and are accurate. Certainly this does not have anything to do with an inequitable distribution of talent. We are long past the time when the pastor is most likely better educated than any one else in the congregation. Nevertheless, from my perspective the laity most often do not respond to the repeated invitations of the clergy to join in continued serious theological discussion. I have gained this perspective as a member of several congregations over a temporal span of six decades and a geographical range including Alabama, Tennessee, California, New York and Illinois. My best guess is that Clement’s First Century AD division of the Church into clergy and laity continues as an unquestioned paradigm for most.
Oh, there have been important and significant exceptions to this generalization. Ironically, during the past four decades the Roman Catholic Church has often been at the cutting edge in restoring a New Testament understanding of the laity as partners in the work of the whole People of God. Three documents from the Second Vatican Council are relevant here: “Constitution of the Liturgy”(1963), “Constitution of the Church” (1964), and the “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity” (1965) 14as is the 1995 Catechism of the Catholic Church 15
Like so much else in Vatican II, this has had a ripple effect throughout the Christian world. In our own tradition obvious examples are the introduction of lay Assisting Ministers in the Liturgy and the inclusion of lay voting members in all aspects and levels of Church governance. The latter example, however, is problematic. Voting members are not necessarily informed by deep and continuous theological discourse. This is not to say that lay voting members could not be informed by deep and continuous theological discourse. We can and should participate in Church deliberations from that perspective, but those of us who are lay members of the Church have not developed a clearly articulated vocational self-understanding. Furthermore we often perceive ourselves as the objects of ministry rather than a part of the ministry of the Church. In large part we have come to this point because we demand greater access to the highest levels of secular education, but are content with a more limited religious education. There are exceptions of which I am aware and of a handful of congregations with well-attended continuing education programs for adults, but such examples are rare. Even in those rare exceptions, the laity infrequently perceive themselves as active participants in the ministry of Christ’s Church. Beyond this, and of greater importance, our formation is incomplete. It needs to be ongoing.
We need a reformation to address this situation, but I must make clear at the outset that such a reformation should not be anticlerical. I do not for one moment advocate lay presidency at Eucharist or similar suggestions. There is a legitimate distinction to be made between the ordained and the unordained, but that distinction needs to be rooted in an appreciation of a corporate identity that unites us as the People of God, the Body of Christ, the royal priesthood—in short, the Church.16 Perhaps we should cease using the word “laity” when we mean “unordained.” We are all People of God. Those of us who are unordained should not hesitate to place ourselves under the authority of pastors who themselves are under the authority of the Gospel. That is a shared submission. We need to be fed by those pastors with Word and Sacrament. We need to be partners with pastors in the ministry of the Church beyond the confines of the sacred spaces of our Sunday assemblies. We need to be dismissed with the instruction to “Serve the Lord” and we need our “Thanks be to God” to be a countersign to all that was said and done in the Liturgy and as a commitment to take what we have been given into the world and to return every Lord’s Day. Most of my ordained friends are anxiously waiting for such a reformation and the recovery of a New Testament vision of the People of God.
I have no idea precisely how this reformation is to be accomplished (although a close reading of the baptismal rite in the Lutheran Book of Worship might be a good start). I am certain that we will need to think theologically. I am certain that we will need to listen respectfully to one another. I am certain that we will need to pray together as often as (perhaps more often than) we talk together. I am certain that our self-awareness as the Body of Christ and as the People of God is essential before we gain a self-awareness of our status as the unordained. The invitation to the reader mentioned earlier in this article consists of some suggestions to start the conversation. My regard for Blessed Martin is too high to call these suggestions “theses.” Perhaps they are talking points. I will limit myself to ten. Ninety-five would probably be pushing it. 17
- The Gospel and Theology: The Gospel provides us with a radical vision based on our reconciliation with God and each other through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel gives us a perspective that obliterates national, class, ethnic, tribal, and clan identities. Theology is the arena of our most serious discussions about the Gospel, its implications, and how we both respond to it and proclaim it. It is a starting point for Christian action and for the life of the Church. Doing theology, both thinking and acting, is living in the tension between history and eternity. The eternal Logos took on flesh and entered into finite history in the person of Jesus. Through teaching, precept, and resurrection, Jesus transcended place, clan, race, nationality, status and gender. In short, Jesus transcended history. We are called to live in the necessity of historical reality and in the transcendent new creation simultaneously. If we opt for the historical reality only, then we have no source for our ministry. If we opt for the transcendent only, then we have no object of ministry.
- The Church: The Church is not simply how we choose to respond to the Gospel. Jesus Christ instituted the Church as the continuation of His ministry on earth. The Church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy. Jesus Christ is our King. We are his body, not as a metaphor but as a living spiritual reality, and he is the head.
- The Priesthood: There is only one priest, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. The “priesthood of all believers” does not mean that we are all priests, like Christ. It means that we have been enfolded into Christ at the time of our baptism, and participate in the Royal Priesthood of our Lord. Through that priesthood we re-enact the story of salvation, break bread, and share the meal until Christ comes again. We do this in order to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the nourishment we need to proclaim and live the Gospel.
- The Laity: The laity consists of all of the people of God who have responded to the Gospel message. This includes the person baptized just this instant as well as those whose initiation into the Body of Christ took place several decades ago. What, then, do we make of the clergy? Clergy have a specific vocation for the maintenance of the Church as an institutional incarnation of the Word and the nurturing of other laity so that the entire body may more effectively participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Theirs is the ministry of word and sacrament. They maintain the Church, that institution which houses our common life together. This common life is crucial to our identity as Christians. It is neither singular nor solitary. We live a life that is plural and corporate.
- strong>Our Corporate Nature:In ordinary conversation there is no problem in talking about a singular layperson. Conceptually, however, it is better for us to think of ourselves as part of the laity, if indeed we continue to use that term. We are a corporate entity. We have diverse ways of expressing that corporate reality; hence we have a singular essence and a plural expression. Often we place concerns of expression over those of essence. We must keep the priorities in order. Only then can we have the full common life that will lead us to an effective participation in Christ’s ministry.
- Our Common Life, Liturgy: When we gather weekly to hear the Word and share the meal we are not simply perpetuating a tradition nor are we merely remembering what has happened. We are responding to a command, and we are doing that in which we are assured Jesus Christ will be present among us. We enter into a solemn obligation and a joyful opportunity. We are unable to dot his except through our common life. Without this nourishment, our attempts at Christian action will be frustrated. Liturgy is an activity of the People of God through which we receive the gifts of God. It is not done for or to the unordained by the clergy. For all who participate, liturgy is the primary and continuing method of Christian formation.18
- Our Common Life, Christian Education: Christian education is life long, and is a responsibility of the entire Body of Christ. Though one person may facilitate any given educational experience, we all have a responsibility to aid each other in our continuing study of the Word, the tradition of the Church, and the constantly evolving context in which we are called to minister. Continuing education (so common in most of our occupational lives) and formation through liturgy are crucial if we are to break free of the conceptualization of the unordained as “those unto whom others minister.” It is a bad habit of thinking into which both the unordained and clergy have fallen. Paul, and others, weren’t quite certain what to do when the movement went beyond sending people out two by two. They had to adapt to a non-peripatetic ecclesia. We seem to have the opposite problem. The church inadvertently shields people against dealing with basic spiritual questions. It does so by seeing discernment as erecting barriers. We tear down those barriers, thus making church membership about as simple and meaningless as acquiring our Captain Midnight decoder rings. And when sincere “laypeople” figure it out, they leave and go someplace that has a period of discernment before initiation, and we act dumbfounded. Thus, we need to rethink education and formation from the very foundations. 19
- Our Common Life, Community: If we worship and learn together, but do not have bonds of love and concern between us, as well as times of fellowship that exist for their own sakes, we will be like St. Paul’s clanging cymbal. Community can be difficult to build and sustain in a modern metropolitan environment, but the commandment of love implies that we must be intentional about this aspect of our life together. Fortunately, a loving community can be one of the side-benefits of a catechumenate program, continuing Christian education, and Bible study (including such variants as Lectio Divinia).
- Our Common Life, Ministry: All Christian ministry, whatever form it might take, has as its foundation and intended outcome the proclamation of the Good News that we are reconciled to God and each other through Jesus Christ our Lord. Other activities may be good and worthwhile, but they are not Christian ministry. We often hear people speak of “my ministry” or a group speak of “our ministry.” As a manner of speaking, there is nothing particularly wrong with these phrases, but as indicators of ownership they miss the mark. To return once again to the premise in Thesis 2, the Church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy ruled by our Lord Jesus Christ. Just as there is one Lord, one Baptism, and one Gospel to proclaim, the Church only has one ministry–that of our Lord. Individuals and groups discern how they may best participate in that ministry, but should never lose sight of the fact that it is the ministry of Jesus Christ in which we participate.
- Occupation and Vocation: Some of the unordained are fortunate enough to participate in the ministry of our Lord in both occupation and vocation. Most of us have to manage lives in which occupation and vocation do not always mesh. Occupation is what we do in order to support our dependents and ourselves. Vocation is what we are called by God to do. Occupation is not to be despised, for it often supports our vocation, but it is important that we know the difference between the two. Indeed, I would argue that ultimately we all have one vocation. We are called to be reconciled to God and one another, to join ourselves to Christ and one another as his Body—the People of God, and to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
I realize that this last proposition flies in the face of a great tradition in Reformation theology (both Lutheran and Calvinist) elevating the spiritual status of Christian endeavors in the secular occupations. Rather than take more space than the editor has already given me, I will simply say that such well-intentioned efforts ultimately lead to spiritual individualism to the extent that they take the emphasis away from participation in the Body as a corporate People of God. The profound differences in the sociology of sixteenth-century Central Europe and that of twenty-first Century metropolitan America should cause us to revisit the nature of the vocation of the unordained. I will be glad to take this argument further in my answers to readers’ responses.20> All of these talking points constitute an invitation to discourse, and this journal is a readily available forum. Whether you want to say “Amen!” or “There are serious problems with your perspective,” Let’s Talk.
 Carl E.Braaten, Mother Church Ecclesiology and Ecumenism (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), pp 27-30.
 The diacritical marks are as close as Microsoft Word will allow.
 A few examples are (all quotes are from the NRSV):
“So then a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God (λάωτοϋ Θεοϋ). Hebrews 4:9;
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God (λάω τοϋ Θεοϋ) than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people (λαόςΘεοϋ); once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
I Peter 2:10
In the same body of literature, the terms λάω τοϋ Θεοϋ and λαός Θεοϋ are used in ways that parallel to έκκλησία (a people called apart / the Church), σώματοςτοϋ Χρισταΰ (body of Christ) and, in some cases, ίερεΰς (priest) ίεράτευμα (priesthood). In the case of έκκλησία and σώματος τοϋΧρισταΰ the point is intuitive. However, we need to look a bit more closely at the use of priest and priesthood. The terms are used in one of three ways:
- referring to the religious hierarchy of the Temple at that time;
- referring to the person and character of Jesus [as in Hebrews 2:17 “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest (άρχιερεύς) in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people”];
- referring to those called by Jesus [as in I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood (ίεράτευμα), a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”]
 For an extended discussion of this point, see N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God: Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 1 (Minneapolis : Fortress Press, 1996), particularly Part IV.
 I Clem.3. The most readily available translation of this source is Ante-Nicene Fathers: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (Peabody, MA : Hendrickson Publishers, 1999). This is a reproduction of an 1885 publication, but the translation remains useful. This source is also available online at http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-05.htm. This specific citations are pp. 5-7 and 16-17 of the printed translation. For the web version, go to Chapter III. Clement’s letter was in response to a crisis. The Church in Corinth had deposed a few πρεσβύτροι (presbyters/elders). Clement encouraged the community to repent and restore these leaders to their positions. In doing so, he put forward an ecclesiology in which those in various orders of ordained ministry were discussed in contrast to the laity. In chapters XL –XLIV Clement outlines in significant detail the dignity and function of the orders. In over 1,000 words given over to the discussion of these distinctions, only the following eleven pertain to the laity: “The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.” Clement does not state what those laws might be, unless they are found in the implied admonitions to respect those in ministerial orders. While separating the Church into the ordained and the laity, Clement also conflated the priestly identity of the whole body of Christ with the office of presbyter. (On this point, see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: Vol. 1, TheEmergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), p. 25.) This was the start of a long and persistent tendency to view the priestly function of the Church as embodied in the offices of presbyter and bishop (the latter reckoned to contain the summary fullness of all orders of ministry) rather than in the body of Christ as a whole, and to define the laity as “the others.”
 This source can be found in almost any comprehensive collection of documents of the Medieval Church, and an accurate translation is available from Fordham University’s “Medieval Source Book” web site
 Luther’s Works, Vol. 40: Church and Ministry II, edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1958), pp. 18ff. For a more detailed discussion, see Jaroslav Pelikan, Spirit Versus Structure: Luther and the Institutions of the Church(New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp. 32-49.
 Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article XXII, The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, translated and edited by Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), pp 236-238.
 “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,” Book of Concord, p. 331.67. This was not seen as normative, however: “So in an emergency even a layman absolves and becomes the minister and pastor of another.”
 Book of Concord,p. 465.5. A Similar statement appears in Formula of Concord: Solid Declaration (1577), see ibid., p. 505.8.
 L. DeAne Lagerquist, The Lutherans (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999), p.124. Susan Wilds McArver, “’A Spiritual Wayside Inn’: Lutherans, the new South and Cultural Change in South Carolina, 1886-1918,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 1995) pp. 244-255. This parallels similar trends in lay participation in Reformed and Free Church traditions at the same time: see Gregory Holmes Singleton, “Protestant Voluntary Organizations and the Making of Victorian America,” in Victorian America, ed. Daniel Walker Howe (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976); Gregory Holmes Singleton, Religion in the City of Angels: American Protestant Culture and Urbanization, Los Angeles 1850-1930 (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1979) Chs. 4-6; Ben Primer, Protestants and American Business Methods (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1979).
 Burton J. Bledstein, The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America (New York: Norton, 1976), passim. This use of the word “laity” actually predates the period Bledstein studies. Consider the references given for the word in the Oxford English Dictionary: “Unprofessional people, as opposed to those who follow some learned profession, to artists, etc. 1832 AUSTIN Jurispr. xxxviii, The laity (or non-lawyer part of the community) are competent to conceive the more general rules. 1875 HELPS Ess., Organiz. Daily Life 107 Artists are wont to think the criticisms of the laity rather weak and superfluous. 1880 H. QUILTER in Macm. Mag. Sept. 393 Most of the laity still connect the word pre-Raphaelitism with visions of gaunt melancholy women. 1898 Allbutt’s Syst. Med. V. 281 The disease being one of the existence of which the laity may be said to be ignorant.”
 A good deal has been written on this subject. I will cite three examples indicating the range of the literature. One of the earliest serious treatments was a prophetic book by theologian/sociologist Peter Berger, The Noise of Solemn Assemblies: Religious Commitment and the Religious Establishment in America (Garden City: Doubleday, 1961). Berger buttresses his argument with a considerable amount of empirical data. Four years later an investigative reporter and columnist published a critical appraisal commissioned by the Anglican Church of Canada: Pierre Berton, The Comfortable Pew (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1965). Berger and Berton offer criticisms of clergy as well as the laity. Both deal with the clerical perception and the lay self-definition. A little over a decade later John S. Savage presented a summary of research on a dominant type emerging from increasing numbers of empirical studies, The Apathetic and Bored Church Member: Psychological and Theological Implications (Pittsford,NY: LEAD Consultants, Inc., 1976).
 While several printed collections are available, (e.g. Austin Flannery, O.P., editor, Vatican Council II, Volume 1: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Grand Rapids: Costello Publishing Company, Inc., 1975).
Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1995), especially pp.224-228. For those who have other editions, see Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 9, Paragraph 2 “The Church—People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit,” I, II and III. The necessity of citation from this source by Part, Section, Chapter, Article, and Paragraph was made clear when my editor looked up the cited portion by page number. My reference was intended to lead him to “The Body of Christ.” In his edition the cited pages led him to “Outside the Church There is No Salvation.”
 Article 14 in both the “Augsburg Confession” and “The Apology of the Augsburg Confession” (Book of Concord, p. 36 and 214) make clear the need for a regular call to the office of public preaching and administration of the sacraments. The process, of course, is a function of the entire People of God.
Some will see in these propositions the influence of Carl E. Braaten, Principles in Lutheran Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983). Certainly Braaten’s grounding in eschatology is relevant here, and my talking points take as given living in the tension between the realities of this world, and the even more compelling realities of the Kingdom of God toward which we are living. (see pp. 46-62) Similarly, my talking points take as given both the Christocentric and Sacramental principles Braaten elaborates. (see Chs. 4 and 5)
 Our worship life will be significantly enhanced if we continue to recover the fullness of our tradition, including the Daily office.
 A good start for any congregation would be instituting a Cathechumenate program, which has the great advantage of both providing a structure for bringing adults into the Church and at the same time placing the entire congregation is a process of continual catechesis. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has adapted the Roman Catholic Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. See Welcome to Christ: Lutheran Rites for the Catechumenate (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997), Welcome to Christ: A Lutheran Introduction to the Catechumenate (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997), Welcome to Christ: A LutheranCatechetical Guide (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997).
My colleagues on the Editorial Council join me in the invitation to write letters or article-length responses.