Monday, April 12, 2010

FW: What Shall We Do


A perspective on LSB after several years of use…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Monday, April 12, 2010 6:11 AM
Author: Pastor Peters
Subject: What Shall We Do


A few years ago my home congregation took the giant step of purchasing the new hymnal (Lutheran Service Book) and has been happily surprised that it was not such a stretch from their previous hymnal.  Their previous hymnal was The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).  So they made a jump of 47 years from one book into another and by-passed everything from the Worship Supplement (1969), to Lutheran Worship (1982) to Hymnal Supplement 98.  But in the end the jump has been more a skip than a leap -- since they are perfectly content to be at home with the order familiar to them in the '41 Hymnal and which was not entirely new to that book but goes back another 30 years or so.

In talking with some folks about this, I was surprised at the various viewpoints.  Some suggested that they owed it to themselves and to the Church to learn some of the other orders in the book in addition to Divine Service, Setting Three, and Vespers.  But I am not so sure.  There are those who insist that every Missouri Synod Lutheran be on the same page on Sunday morning -- literally.  I believe that a little latitude here is not entirely a bad thing.  I think it is much more important that we all be in the same book than we all are on the same page.  And that is, I think, the perspective of the Confessions on the matter, too.

Lutherans have not only tolerated but allowed a certain amount of diversity within the ordo.  Some think that people like me want to take that away.  They are wrong.  But this diversity has always been within the hymnals and liturgies that the Church has identified as her own and not the kind of diversity of a pastor's own creative genius (which I am definitely against).  When we admit to a diversity of ceremonies and practices that do not cause a fissure in our unity, we are speaking from within the context of the historic mass (ordo) and that mass is certainly preserved within the books that were the predecessors of LSB as well as the gift of this "new" hymnal (we seem to be unable to shake the idea of a hymnal being new even when it ends up being 24 years old - as in the case of LW). 

While it is not my own preference to stay with one order from within the various Divine Services available to us in the "new" hymnal, it is certainly a legitimate one.  And knowing the history and culture of my Nebraska prairie congregation, it is a perfectly natural one.  Things change less out there than they do in larger suburban or urban environments.  And their choice is fine.  We may not be on the same page (literally) but being in the same book means we are still united on Sunday morning.  Our church body may not be able to hope for more unity than this and this may be exactly the unity that the Lutherans who shaped our identity had in mind.

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