I’ve gone on a rubric kick the last week as I contemplated (now preparing for) ministry at Grace Lutheran Church. They are higher church than Redeemer, and so I have some studying and homework to do. For instance, at Grace the Pastors genuflect during the confession, at the Words of Institution etc.. They use a lavabo and incense as well. All things I do not use here.
What’s funny about this is that the Lutheran blogosphere is in a tizzy about rubrics and ceremony even as I am doing this homework and study. They are debating how much and how far and “is it necessary” and all.
What I want to do is learn. We don’t have a good published official ceremony and only the mere suggestion of rubrics in our hymnal and altar books these days. We have a living tradition of mediocrity and minimalism and pragmatism in the LCMS, even while many deplore the traditional ceremony because its “tradition.” What do I mean? I learned conduct of the liturgy through years of watching other pastors while I grew up, pastors who were faithful and genuine, but who themselves had only watched others and made adjustments, who watched others or made adjustments, all without a foundation of what is supposed to happen at this “Mass” which we as Lutherans never abolished.*
On this matter, I think the Orthodox have a better handle and philosophy than modern Lutherans. Orthodox Christians are about the maximum. They worship and pray under the assumption that all is good and more is better. They make adjustments for pastoral reasons, but are taught the most and told how to make allowances. (Of course, I’ve terribly minimized Orthodox theology. Call me irony-man).
This approach is present in Lutheran theology and worship, but is drowned out by modern minimalism. Lutheran theology says all our sins are fully forgiven in the absolution at the beginning of the worship service. But our sins are fully forgiven in the Holy Eucharist as well. Why double up? Why not just forgive them fully once? Because more forgiveness is better. Because our God is not a CPA. He forgives more than we sin. He gives more than we either desire or deserve. God gives all. The maximum. This is our theology when it comes to justification, but strangely absent when it comes to worship and the liturgy. In worship we became minimalist, determining that we don’t need this or that. That such is too catholic, or too redundant, or “not necessary.”
So…for those of you liturgy gurus out there, tell me what I need!