For our readers' consideration…
I've been no stranger to the ongoing "worship wars" among Lutherans. I've been in the trenches fully engaged in the "wars" for many years now. And, believe it or not, there was a time, many, many moons ago, when I fought for the other side, believing that we Lutherans needed to ditch the historic liturgy and get with the times. I was young and naive - and very ignorant about what Christian worship is. But, then I read and studied the entire Bible, from beginning to end. I had done that several times before, but this time I paid special attention to every reference to worship I found in the Bible. I jotted down those references, along with some notes about each. I came across those notes in an old file cabinet some time back. They're in rough shape, and much of what I wrote down back then shows forth how ignorant I was at the time, especially considering that I completely missed a plethora of worship references, and I wonder now how I could have possibly done so. But, even back then, as ignorant as I was, what this exercise of reading through Holy Scripture and noting the references to worship taught me was that my ideas about the need to make worship entertaining, fun, and more appealing to the lost were way off base. I simply couldn't find any basis for that anywhere in Scripture. I still can't. What I did find was that Biblical worship is always a holy and reverent encounter between God and His people. I also found that Biblical worship simply knows not a thing about mimicking the surrounding culture for the purpose of outreach, something I was told time and time again was the main purpose and end-all, be-all of Christian worship.
Dear Pastor Messer,
As I told Anne in my response to her, I don't think she is wrong at all. Our Lutheran theology of worship is about more than simply using our hymnal and following the liturgy. I have actually been to Services in LCMS congregations where the entire liturgy was used, word for word, but left thinking that there was nothing Lutheran about what I had just experienced. Why? The music. The liturgy was undone by the entertainment of the praise band and the songs they sung, filled with false doctrine as they were - false doctrine that grossly contradicted the doctrine being taught and delivered in the liturgy. The liturgy couldn't save the Service from feeling far more like a Pentecostal "worship experience" (or rock concert) than a Lutheran Divine Service.