Saturday, March 15, 2003

A recent conversation/collaboration about rituals/liturgy and worship from up/rooted's yahoo group.

-rituals- geoff h
"up/rooted friends,

The topic of ritual/liturgy has come up briefly a couple of times. And
last sunday after church a group of us talked about either lent is
important or not. So I want to ask outright what you all think. Eric
Bangeman sent out a little something on lent, and I copied some portions
of it to spur conversation.

What is your history with the Church calendar, rituals, liturgy
(old-timer, new-comer, allergic to them), and what do you think
(accepting, curious, ignorant, don't like them), and are they important
or not. I personally think they are very important, but i want to know
where you all are at.
peace, geoff"

"Time is a very scarce resource for many people today due to
the frantic pace of life and all the distractions. Lent gives us a way of
setting apart time to focus on the cross, and the cross goes to the
heart of what our faith is all about. Reflecting on what Christ did on the
cross, on our salvation - that's so important to take the time to do..."

"I see Lent as a door - an entry way - for people to connect or
reconnect with Jesus," Ashey said. "Our culture is so focused on an
event rather
than a process. Even as evangelicals, I think we've been trapped by the
idea that salvation is a one-time event, like a sale that we've got to
close. But often, it's a process in which people ask questions again and
again and again and approach God again and again and again to consider
faith. We're hoping to use Lent as a way to help people consider Jesus
and take the time they need to process all He's done for us, so they can
discover a faith that's real..."

"Unlike the joyless deprivation some people think of when they think of
Lent, the season can actually be a quite rewarding and exciting time,
said Ashey. "There's a sense of preparation, of anticipation, and a
sense of
savoring what Jesus did for us. The church calendar invites us to take
our time and conform it to Jesus' time. We take a season like Lent and we
enter into Jesus' life and all that He dealt with on Earth, and then we can
better deal with everything in our own lives because we've connected
with Him..."

-rituals..sure- (dave carlson)
"The thing Bunker talked about.. "What does Christianity look like?" has
something to do with ritual. I don't really care if people are bummed out
about stale rituals. I mean, it's too bad they had to experience that and
I can understand how it might confuse a person as to whether or not
rituals are important.

But it's pretty obvious that ritual and liturgy are necessary components
to the practice of Christianity. If it's not obvious then fine... continue
that discussion. But I would think most people here are into it. Or at
least the idea of it. What I'd like to hear is why certain practices are
meaningful to people. What makes a ritual work? How do I know when I've
successfully done the deed?

Because I'm a child of the 60's I'm always looking for a warm fuzzy
feeling. But that happens inconsistently at best. Sometimes I think it's a
matter of fake it till you make it. Most often it's an act of submission,
knowing that I'm too screwed up to have a genuine moment and therefore my
self-forced participation might produce fruit in the long run. Does that
make sense to anyone?

I'd sure like to connect more often than I do. I suppose that has to do
with traditional church rituals... The ones I've experienced that were
made up by a small group of people at metanoia/safe place seemed to have a
lot of potential.

Also, I think Dave Fitch ought to stop eavesdropping on these exchanges
and add something to the conversation.

DC "

-rituals..sure- geoff
"I agree that Dave Fitch should add something, after all he is writing a book with a chapter devoted to worship and liturgy.

but dave- is the point of a ritual to feel/experience something? is that necessarily the point of worship? Yes and No. I think that rituals/ligury/worship music form us into new people as we encounter God, and part of that formation certainly should happen thru a visceral encounter with God (physical-emotional-spiritual). I thinking moving the goal of worship from "expressing/experiencing" or relationship with God, to "forming" a people (forming their doctrine and their expression). and when i say "forming" i'm not talking about style (music- jazz, rock, classical; or atmosphere- candles or not), but rather the general orientation and progression of worship.

there's tons more I could say on that, but i'll stop for now.
peace with you all,
geoff "

-rituals...sure- dave carlson
"I agree with you. The feeling/experience thing is where I come from, not necessarily where I'm headed. I think the word I like most is "immersive" worship. It has an environmental/exterior/cultural component to it. Eric B. and I were discussing MacIntyre's book After Virtue. In light of that book, the question is, "how do we do church in such a way that it inculcates the Aristotelian "acting from inclination" instead of the Kantian, "acting against inclination". We should call worship leaders experience creators. They should be skilled in creating an immersive environment where not only the words point to God but the entire symbolization of the Christian reality is present. A total embodiment. Nightclub/Disco owners would make good candidates as worship leaders. oops I mean experience creators. So would the Ringling Brothers.... or a Soho Art Gallery owner.... (provided they all get saved of course)
Dave C"

-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"My friend Rich, who is the Director of Worship and Arts at North Park did a
class on worship at our church over a year ago. He quotes John Ortberg in
defining worship primarily as a response to God for who He is and what He
has done (I'm kind of paraphrasing, here...) that involves our whole being.
Many of the scriptures where we see the people singing and praising God for
what He has done (like the song of Deborah, the song of Mary) are examples
of this. I've felt in trying to plan worship that often times I was trying
to make it happen, rather than respond to what God was doing, and had been
doing, and perhaps what He will do."

-kinds of worship services- geoff h
" Mike,
I agree with what you said about our need to respond to God. That
article that Eric sent around was a good categorization of worship
styles, but it still had that "marketing" and "audience" understanding
of worship that I'm really trying to get away from. The worship
services at Trinity that we are putting together are very word focused,
so that we don't have to "make it happen" as you said. Just like the
gospel, worship is a response to what God has done and is doing.
peace- geoff"

-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"I happen to prefer the first form of worship method mentioned. It might
have something to do with the fact that I'm a musician, and the response
that most resonates with me is music, not words. Perhaps it can be argued
that this can be the most problematic form of worship, in that it seems so
easy to forget that it's about responding, and not eliciting a feeling that
feels like the presence of God. It also seems easier to sing a song that
perhaps are not words that we feel than to say words that are not congruent
with our beings.

I sometimes feel that the shift from music focused worship to word focused
worship is a shift to avoid trying to "make it happen". While I can
appreciate that there are those that actually prefer this style of worship,
i.e. that their natural response is word, it kind of leaves me out a bit,
in that even if I were to have an authentic response, it would not be in
this form."

-kinds of worship services- eric b.
"I'm a little unclear about how the terminology is used here. By word-focused worship, do you mean worship centered around the proclamation of the Word of God? If so, it seems to me that "music-focused" worship is a subset of word-focused worship.

I also wonder about the necessity of an authentic response. Dave Carlson mentioned something to the effect of the need to "just do it" even when we don't feel it. In a very real way, worship is something we submit ourselves to in order to carry on the work of "divinization" as the Orthodox describe it -- conforming our character ever more to the image of Christ. It's great if we have some authentic emotional response to worhsip, but I think that placing ourselves in the narrative of Word and Sacrament is paramount.



-kinds of worship services- mike sage
"Well, not to speak for Geoff, but I'm assuming that what he meant, and
perhaps more importantly for your question what I took it to mean was that
the worship he is leading involves more use of the liturgy, and having
people speak words, instead of always singing songs as the form of worship.
I hope that clarifies that portion.

As far as response, I think we have been conditioned to think that
"response" means "emotional response". I think that we can decide in our
minds to respond to something, including the word of god, and have that be
authentic. What form that response takes as a community I think is a
decision that can be made in complete freedom to choose whatever form we
wish it to take (although perhaps not the loincloth clad worship).

That being said, I think God wants our hearts as well as our minds. What
does this mean? I'd sure like some input.


-kinds of worship services- geoff h
" I'm not sure where I miss spoke, but I didn't want to give the impression the people should just speak and listen to the Word of God. What I meant is that we start with God and what he has done and spoken as our departure for worship. I'm all about music/singing. I think we should sing the Word more instead of our silly diddies about romantic love. lets sing through the psalm, and the hymn of the OT and NT.

As Dave C. said "They should be skilled in creating an immersive environment where not only the words point to God but the entire symbolization of the Christian reality is present." and Eric B. said "It's great if we have some authentic emotional response to worhsip, but I think that placing ourselves in the narrative of Word and Sacrament is paramount." i'm right there with this.

so i'll define my words i guess: "word-based" is not proclamation based. the sermon does not run the show in my worship world, rather the gospel does (we need to re-narrate people into the gospel every week). "liturgy" is anything that the Church does intentionally, regularly in its corporate worship. "ritual" is anything that embraces that fact that we are embodied beings -so communion and hand clapping are both ritual (one more meaningful than the other).
maybe we should express ideal worship services rather than defining terms...
peace- geoff h"

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