Monday, August 13, 2007

Try being sensitive to this seeker

Think about your church's worship. Think about the worship of other churches you know. Now think about this seeker:
To whose church would you send a twenty-something Reformed Christian who could get into singing a little Greek on Sunday mornings -- say, a string of Kyrie eleisons?

Where would you send some young believer who fancies set prayers?

Where would you send somebody who thinks the psalms are all that, and is dying to sing them in church? What if he imagines -- get this -- that he could enlist the kids' help to make it happen?

Where would you send someone who wanted to be in a church where they sing things such as the Creed, and don't just say them?

Where would you send somebody who's dissatisfied with the Eucharistic status quo -- who's gotten to thinking (this person is big into reading the Fathers) that the Eucharist is enough of a raison d'ĂȘtre for Sunday worship that not to have it at least every week is deformed, not Reformed?

Where, in short, would you send John Calvin?


Anonymous Daniel Newman said...

Or me?

Thanks for a great post. I've also found what you've written on the Psalms helpful, too.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That makes three of us, then :-)

2:49 PM  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i'm totally with you on the deformed view of not having the eucharist (at least) every week. i too am a twenty-something reformed Christian, and it blows my mind that so many protestant churches have reduced it to once a month (once a quarter in some cases). i finally found a reformed church where we take communion every other week (we have a baptism on the weeks in between... yes, a baptism... every other week... lots of babies in our church)... so i guess i'm getting close.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Fr. Bill said...

Hmmmm. I know where I'd send him, but I don't expect the suggestion to be given much credit, since it's my parish. The suggestion would be impugned, I suppose, for that reason alone.

But, for the record,

1. Our worship service always concludes with the Eucharist.

2. Our worship service contains set prayers, interspersed with ... what? ... non-set prayers. I don't call them spontaneous prayers (though, some of those may be offered as well) because most of those praying have composed the prayers before the worship service and offer them audibly during that portion of the service called "The Prayers of the People."

3. In every service we sing the Psalm appointed for that Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. We also sing the Venite, and a canticle. We sing the Sursum Corda responsively, as its sense suggests we should. We sing the Sanctus et Benedictus. I sing the Preface and Proper. All of this (except the hymnal hymns) are sung to various Anglican chants.

I'm afraid we don't sing in Greek. Our Kyrie is done in English.

Also, we don't sing the Creed, though there's no reason not too. We're singing so much of the rest of the liturugy, that speaking the Creed in unison is a nice break.

All this, by the way, is done by a tiny congregation with no choir. When our organist is sick, we've done the whole enchilada a capella. But, we rejoice in the organist's contributions to our voices.

And, yes, the children sing too. They even compose their prayers and offer them during the Prayers of the People.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Mr. C. said...

Send them to Moscow, Idaho! :)

4:49 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Well, not to be snarky, but back home! In all seriousness, all these things happen in every Catholic service, most explicitly in the Tridentine or Byzantine rites of the Catholic Church. So, yeah, why try to reinvent the wheel?


6:33 PM  
Anonymous who, me? said...

This confirms the suspicion I have had for several years that the Reformers were looking for the ancient Orthodoxy the Western Church had left; but did not know where to find it.

Fortunately, the world is smaller now.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Paul Buckley said...

Welcome, Fr Bill, Mr. C, Matt, and Who, me?

I take nothing you have said as snarky. You've simply made more explicit the irony I wanted to highlight. Whatever Calvin might find objectionable in Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican worship today, he'd find plenty to dislike in Presbyterian and Reformed worship, too.

For the record: I wouldn't care to replicate everything that Calvin did liturgically. And I don't care whether we sing in Greek. I'm just pointing up the irony of the situation we're in. If a Reformed pastor wanted to imitate Calvin in this, people would accuse him of not being Reformed. (Note that even some fundamentalists don't mind a little Latin occasionally: Gloria in excelsis Deo, they sing.)

Fr Bill, thank you for the report on what you folks are doing. It's encouraging.

To Who, Me? Yes, you.

10:20 PM  

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