Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oh, Fill us Lord...

In my last post, a question was asked about what I meant when I wrote about liturgy as: "Some days are good, some not so good."

So, if you'll allow me a little leeway, I'll try to explain in a roundabout way via something that happened at church this morning:

Now all the vault of heav'n resounds
in praise of love that still abounds:
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Sing, choirs of angles, loud and clear!
Repeat their song of glory here:
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Eternal is the gift he brings,
therefore our heart with rapture sings:
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Now still he comes to give us life
and by his presence stills all strife.
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Oh, fill us, Lord, with dauntless love;
set heart and will on things above
that we conquer through your triumph;
grant grace sufficient for life's day
that by our lives we truly say:
"Christ has triumphed! He is living!"
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Adoring praises now we bring
and with the heav'nly blessed sing:
"Christ has triumphed! Alleluia!"
Be to the Father, and our Lord,
to Spirit blest, most holy God,
all the glory, never ending!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Emotionally speaking I'm very low maintenance but I choked up on that third verse. That one verse sums up, with frightening clarity, my Christian vocation. Coupled with a beautiful (and well known) tune it was a powerful moment that is special because of its rarity. Made all the more powerful because the liturgy
set the stage. Like the setting of a precious gem, the liturgy should focus all our attention to the gem that is the Triune God and the means by which we know the Trinity: Baptism, Eucharist, and the Word (though not technically a sacrament seems to function like one). So when I say that some days are good (liturgically speaking), I mean days like today. It was good.

Alas, not every Mass is this good. For various reasons, some of the liturgical settings (there are ten of them!) in the ELW seem to be lacking. Unlike the Orthodox Divine Liturgy or the Roman Missal, Lutherans have more choice in liturgical settings. And with more choice comes more responsibility. Maybe this choice is our (Lutherans) cross to bear. Maybe this is God's way of showing us what is, and is not, right and salutary. I'd like to think so. I'm sure that in the fullness of time, consensus will emerge amongst worship leaders in the ELCA on which settings do the job, and which are dross. I am hopeful. The Spirit will guide us as always. In the mean time, I'll enjoy those Sundays when the liturgy is not just the liturgy but becomes that which moves us towards God.

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