Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wish Dreams and Lutheranism: Part III

What follows are a series of posts regarding the possibilities of taking "Weedon's Wish Dream" and making it reality. Remember (especially my members), that while I am very sympathetic to 99% of what the Wish Dream was, I'm just talkin' right now.

Regarding comments:

  • DO feel free to make suggestions of pros and cons that I may have missed.
  • DO NOT dismiss an option until I have outlined all of them. Remember that I am not finished yet!
  • DO offer suggestions for a different name than "Weedon's Wish Dream," as what he described could well be a generic description of the ideal Evangelical Catholic/Confessional Lutheran congregation.

Option #1 Stay where you are and bring the Wish Dream to your parish.

This honors the divine call and prevents schism. Our theology states that God has called pastors to their congregations, and they are to stay until God calls them elsewhere. This is most apparent when pastors receive another divine call to serve a congregation. However, there are other options, all more subjective, like when "God is calling" to retirement. Staying and working the Wish Dream where you are honors the call and seems most natural.

However, it can be nigh impossible. Most of us don't like change. Most of us think of our congregations as our heritage, our refuge, and to a more sinful extent, our club and bailiwick. Pastors are outsiders to the existing group and the people see them this way for years, if not decades. Insiders sometimes can change things, outsiders have much more work to do.

Second, we have the ghosts of Christmas past haunting our pulpits and classrooms.

Third, the great cry of pedagogy (teach 'em) only works for people willing to learn. Sadly this can be an overwhelming problem. And even for those who wish to learn, who will open themselves to the teaching authority of the pastor, it can years for the lessons to soak in. Complicating this, new members will constantly be joining who have various degrees of catechesis under their belts.

Fourth, it takes so long. Sure, many things can be done quickly, or relatively so. I introduced the chasuble by simply wearing them. I introduced chanting by just doing it from day one, not asking permission. Certainly the chanting has caused some grief, and consequently, I don't chant everything, and sometimes don't chant at all. However, I know that it may take further decades for the practice to be cemented. If then.


  1. revalkorn said...

    For a title, how about "Lutheran Utopia"?

  2. Ben said...

    Liturgical renewal is not an impossibility. Don't listen to the naysayers, keep on fighting for beauty!

    I don't know the specific situation of Lutherans, (I'm Catholic) but in my RC parish the priest has fought long and hard to bring dignity to the liturgy, and he has been largely successful. Still have a long way to go, but it's getting there.

    The main difficulty, as I see it, has been that the orthodox won't leave no matter what, and the heterodox will jump ship at the drop of a feather... and they'll take their kids with them.

    One thing that has been helpful is that my priest offers daily mass in a very reverent way. This is a much smaller group of people to deal with, the daily crowd, and they are largely a lot more orthodox than the Sunday bunches. They can act as leaven. I know Lutherans don't do daily mass (right?) but maybe you can offer daily matins or vespers or something in a very liturgical style. This would allow you to build up a solid core of people who can see the benefit of high liturgy and communicate that to the rest of your congregation.

    If you were to do this, at first you would probably not have many people coming every day... OR, you might have a lot at first but then a trail-off... don't worry, just keep offering the services faithfully and I think the people will come. Same deal in my RC parish: our previous priest offered confession by appointment only. Our current priest offers it three times a day. At first no one showed up. After about a year of being there, day in day out faithfully, people began to notice and now there are lines for confession.