Sunday, July 11, 2010

What Is Divine Worship?

The LCMS National Convention tentative schedule had listed for yesterday afternoon from 4:00-5:30 p.m.:  "Opening Convention Divine Worship with Holy Communion."  I was curious as to what was meant by "Divine Worship."  I mean, I've heard of Divine Service.  I've also heard of Contemporary Worship.  But, what is "Divine Worship"?  Is it a descriptor being used in reference to the activity of the worshipers, as if that activity is so sublime, so inspirational, so godly that the only way to describe it is to call it "Divine"?  Or, is this a descriptor of the Divinity being given the opportunity to do a little worshiping of Himself?  What is this thing called "Divine Worship"? 

Curious and interested by this strange terminology, I tuned it to watch what was being described as "Divine Worship."  After doing so, I get it now.  "Divine Worship" is what you get when you try to mix and match elements of the Divine Service with Contemporary Worship in the attempt to please a crowd full of people who have a variety of "worship tastes."  It's what you get when you use the ordo of the historic liturgy (for the most part - since when did the Kyrie take place before the Absolution, and what in the world was up with that Sanctus?), but spice it up with a funky, almost-psychedelic-like light show, and intersperse Christian hymns with Contemporary Christian pop-music.  It's what you get when you try to have Divine Service with a rock-n-roll concert at the same time.  It's what you get when Lutherans try to be Lutheran and Charismatics at the same time.  That, I guess, is what is meant by "Divine Worship."

Anyway, I don't like it.  I know:  Surprise, surprise!  And, I suppose that being critical of the opening "worship service" of our synod's national convention just further proves that I'm a stubborn, intolerant, inflexible, uncompromising, liturgical type.  So be it.  I'll stick with the Divine Service.  If I want a light show and amplified music with a back-beat that moves me to groove along with it, well, I'll go to a rock concert.

Oh well.  Such is life in our synod today, which "is not your grandfather's church the church our grandfather's dreamed of" (more on that later).  Funny, I can't imagine our grandfather's dreaming of this so-called "Divine Worship."  I can't imagine them ever dreaming about the day when the processional crucifix(?) looked like some weird, ice-sculpture-type-thing of a figure looking like it's signaling a touchdown, or the day when a television screen was built into the altar (for a pic of the altar, click here), or the day when "Holy Spirit-whirly-pennants" would be processed in and wielded over the crowd, or the day when a comfy, red-chair would be placed before the altar to be used in some innovative liturgical element that I'm still scratching my head about, or the day when Lutherans would be standing up during the Distribution of the very Body and Blood of our Lord to wave their hands in the air and move their bodies to the beat of the pop-song in the background (actually, you can't see this happening in the video, but those who were there have reported that it was happening), and so forth.  Nope, can't imagine our grandfathers dreaming of the day when what happened at this "Divine Worship" would be fitting for the opening worship service at their synod's national convention, and put on display for the whole world to see.  Can't imagine that at all.

If you're interested in seeing what "Divine Worship" is, you can go here to watch it in action.  For Fr. Beane's take on it, with which I am in full agreement, click here


Carol said...

I was confused by the red chair too. What was that all about? I guess our little parish must be missing something. We don't have a red chair. Is it supposed to symbolize Christ? When I first started watching I thought that I had the wrong video.

I'm sure the feeling was much different for those in attendance than it was for me sitting in my living room watching on my laptop, but I did get a strong sense that I was at a rock concert. The words of the liturgy were there (I did wonder what had happened to the Absolution when they started the Kyrie!) but there was a strong rock concert vibe throughout.

I can't wait to talk with someone who was there to find out more about the rock band!

Lord have mercy!

Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...


I spoke with Larry a little bit ago, and have shared emails with a couple of others who are there, and they all informed me that it very much had a rock concert feel in person. In fact, based on what they said, it was far more "rock concert-ish" for them than it was for us watching on video.

Anyway, yeah, Kyrie Eleison, indeed!