Monday, 29 November 2010

Walther on the Lutheran Liturgy

We are not insisting that there be unity of perception or feelings or of taste among all believing Christians, neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which the Christians serve God publicly before the world.

From C. F. W. Walther, Thesis XVIII in The True Visible Church, published in Essays for the Church, Vol. 1 [Concordia Publishing House, 1992].

And along with Lutheran worship go the necessary accoutrements: altar, pulpit, font and lectern. Also, a Lutheran church, in my mind at least, should have kneelers in the pews. Kneelers seem to have become optional in churches built since about 1970, which worries me. Following Walther, I wouldn't insist upon or demand them, but what does the absence of kneelers indicate? Perhaps just that the congregation couldn't afford them, but also perhaps a lack of appreciation for the importance of body language in worship. In fact, I don't think I'm wrong to note a general uncertainty regarding when to stand, sit and kneel among congegations today. Pastors should strive for uniformity in their guidance to congregations in these matters so that the "body language" of Lutheran worship is retained, lest we end up like students in a lecture hall rather than the people of God assembled together in a house of prayer to be blessed and in turn offer our prayers, praise and thanksgiving.

May God grant a blessed and reflective Advent season to all my readers.


Eric said...

Thank you for that quotation by Walther, I deeply appreciated it.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

You're most welcome, Eric.