Thursday, October 04, 2012

Right on!

While I don't always agree with Pope Benedict on everything, I do agree wholeheartedly with his latest comments on the purpose of the liturgy, "It is not the individual — priest or layman — or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God’s action through the Church...This universality and fundamental openness, which is characteristic of the entire liturgy, is one of the reasons why it cannot be created or amended by the individual community or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church..."

We do pray in common in the Episcopal church, hence the term Common Prayer. It is very trendy in the Episcopal church and in the Church of England under the guise of liturgical diversity to have all these specialty little liturgies. Some are politically correct language liturgies that cater to varying political whims (I'm looking at you, Enriching Our Worship series!). Some are "season of creation" based. Some are whimsical if not outdated like the Hip Hop mass or the U2charist. All of them are what I call liturgical tourism where the center of liturgy is no longer God but some other destination.

This is why I do not use any of these resources for the primary Sunday gathering of the congregation. I think it is contrary to the very notion of "common prayer" because if how we pray shapes how we believe, what does it say about us if the liturgy becomes about us and our agendas and not about God?

I have always been bothered by this question, particularly since I was living in England. On any given Sunday, you might see in any given C of E church a liturgy ranging from the 1662 BCP to the English version of the 1962 Catholic Missal to the Common Worship series to Willow Creek mega-church stuff. I think that liturgical "its all about how I want to worship" diversity that has led to the fact that the Crown Commission of  Anglican Communion can't even decide on whom will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. We, like our liturgies, have become what we pray, that not Thy will but my will be done.

Here endeth the rant.
Thanks be to God. 

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