Thursday, January 14, 2010

Perspectives on the MTC, #6

 would love to have a conversation with Pr. Waddell, especially after the MTC…

Feed: WorshipConcord
Posted on: Thursday, January 14, 2010 8:14 AM
Author: worshipconcord
Subject: The LCMS Model Theological Conference on Worship, 11-13 January 2010

Posted by WorshipConcord, a blog about Lutheran liturgy & worship

Last night I returned home from the LCMS Model Theological Conference on Worship hosted by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) and the Commission on Worship (COW), and underwritten by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. One of our contributing editors, Kent Burreson, has promised to provide us with his observations and brief analysis on the conference for the February issue of the WorshipConcord Journal, so I will only offer a few personal observations here, and then let Kent provide us with a more comprehensive take in a couple of weeks.

This was a conference made up of people who were invited by the CTCR, the COW, and the District Presidents, both ordained and lay people who are involved in the theological discussions about worship or the practice of leading worship in some way. So many theologians and many musicians of the Synod were in attendance.

My own personal observation (as someone who was invited to respond to one of the main presenters and then join the panel discussion at the end) is that the conference was a success. One of the primary goals of the conference was to have a conversation among those who have different points of view on worship. We accomplished this goal. I am not sure that it was primarily aimed at bringing participants to change the respective positions they hold. I don't think anyone actually changed their position on worship. Certainly positions were developed and strengthened by the excellent teaching that took place at the conference, teaching that emphasized the Gospel, the sacraments, and our relationships in the body of Christ. What this conference did accomplish, in my opinion, is a greater understanding among ourselves and better relationships. Cynicism, sarcasm, and caricature are dead.

In a world where words written in books, in journals, and on web sites (like this one!), we need to be reminded that there are flesh and blood brothers and sisters in Christ on the other end of the dialogue, not just a disembodied pen (or keyboard). We are all body-and-soul human beings for whom our Savior lived and gave his life on the cross. This conference, while it did not make us all best friends, provided a safe atmosphere for strengthening positive relationships. In many ways what happened in St. Louis this week resonates closely with what we at WorshipConcord are doing. You may remember that part of the vision for WorshipConcord is that it "provides a common basis for discussing worship issues by stressing relationships, shared theological values, and sound methodology."

Of couse there is nothing "pollyannish" or "pie-in-the-sky" about my observations. I am a realist. But I am an optimistic realist. My close friends know that I like to use the analogy of a tent peg. Referring to the conversation about worship, I have often mused whether the peg has been hammered so far into the ground that we are no longer able to grasp onto it. The 2010 Model Theological Conference on Worship demonstrated that this is not the case, that we are in fact able to grab onto the discussion again, and do it from the perspectives of faith and love, seasoned with civility.

Thank you, CTCR and COW, for hosting this conference. There is hope.


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