I know there are several of you who read this site because I post on liturgy from time to time, and I owe you folks an update. I haven’t posted on liturgy in a while, and it’s not because I’ve been dormant. We had reached the stage in the life of the church where our discussions of liturgy were becoming very particular to our own individual concerns. It didn’t seem appropriate to share all of that with the world, so I haven’t.
What I can share are the results. Some potential points of interest, in no particular order:
- We are using the 5-C covenant renewal pattern cribbed from Jeff Myers’ excellent The Lord’s Service. This is not the result of a solid theological commitment on our part, but we have to do everything in some order. We picked this order on the principle that it makes sense, and given the choice between a sensible order that we might not have to change much and a cobbled-together pastiche that we know we’ll have to fix, we prefer the former. We’ll examine it more closely as time permits, and of course it’s all up for grabs at that point, but ya gotta start somewhere…
- Page numbers for songs are from Cantus Christi, unless otherwise noted. (Note that verse numbers will also be different from one hymnal to the next. Particularly in Cantus, where the editors have a definite antiquarian streak.)
- The opening prayer is inspired by the Book of Common Prayer, and edited as seemed appropriate.
- The confession and petition prayers were drafted corporately, the former based on Nehemiah’s confession for the nation and the latter based on a grocery list of things we should pray for. We know there are going to be problems here. Be interesting to find out what they will be.
- The fact that everybody is reading a scripted prayer together is not one of the problems. More about this later, but here’s the short version: (1) teamwork requires coordination; (2) nobody complains about this when corporately singing to the Lord; (3) why is it a problem when corporately speaking to Him?
- We left the “c-word” in the Creed, with no apologies. We mean it when we say we believe in the holy catholic church, and we also mean the unspoken “and they don’t!” that comes with it. In this we stand with the Reformed and Anglican portions of the Protestant heritage, as over against the Lutheran tradition, which chickened out.
- Weekly communion, yes. Grape juice thus far.
So, without further ado, here is our very first attempt at formal liturgy.
We knew we were going to need to tweak it, but we weren’t sure how. A few things became clear once we’d actually done it once, and here are a few of them:
- The petition prayer was composed without any regard for cadence or ease of corporate reading. This is entirely my fault, because getting it into final shape was my job. The content, if I do say so myself, is pretty good. But it’s ugly, and it shouldn’t be. Although I have no doubt that I can fix it, this is not a kind of writing I’ve done before, so it’s going to be a process.
- That prayer is also really, really long. We may shorten it a bit.
- There is such a thing as too fast. In my zeal to keep the corporate portions from dragging–come on, you know what I’m talking about–I led us through at a breakneck pace. This is a Bad Thing, because if people can barely get the words out of their mouth in time, then they have little chance of absorbing them. Must slow down. Happily, we have the time to do this.
- Four songs in a row is too many, especially in a congregation that’s not accustomed to a lot of singing. Need to break this up into more manageable chunks.
- My local Stater Brothers doesn’t sell matzoh, or anything else much in the way of unleavened bread. This may not sound relevant, but when you’re out shopping for a communion bread that you can actually break instead of those awful little square white things, it matters. Must find a local source.
We went back to the drawing board and tweaked a bit. Here’s the second version.
Comments and critiques are of course welcome.