Wednesday, June 01, 2005

“What Color Will the New Hymnal Be?

As said before, used to be The Lutheran Commentator was round-filed on delivery, then we began to agree with it and at some point it became prophetic. From last year:

"Two big issues for 2005 Assembly. Many people know that the vote on GLBT clergy is slated for the 2005 Churchwide Assembly. But few know the second big issue slated for the 2005 Assembly: a new hymnal. Much of the new hymnal is available now in preliminary volumes under the title: Renewing Worship. It can be found online ( or ordered through Augsburg/Fortress Press (1/800-328-4648). Since previous hymnals have been known by their color - green, red, blue, brown, black - what color will the new hymnal be? Suggested colors for the new hymnal based on what's between the covers: Let it be Lavender . . . for gender-neutral marriage ceremonies. Renewing Worship offers multiple options. It offers wedding liturgies which use "husband and wife" and "male and female." But it also provides alternative liturgies (pp. 12-19) which are gender neutral and could used for same-sex couples. Two examples: Beloved people of God, we have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the covenant of love and fidelity B and name are to make with each other. The union of two persons in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy. &, living in the promise of God, joined to Christ in your baptism, will you give yourself to Renewing Worship 4, p. 12 in love and faithfulness? Renewing Worship 4, p. 13

Since it is likely the Assembly will adopt Renewing Worship, it will be implicitly approving gender neutral ceremonies which can be used for same-sex weddings. Let it be Grey ... for shrouding God in mystery. Renewing Worship notes a feminist complaint: "Many people find exclusively masculine language for God a serious deterrent to their worship" (RW 1, p.14). It proposes to correct this "serious deterrent" in the following way: "Because God is ultimately mystery, the language used in worship points to and evokes the God beyond knowing" (RW 1, L-5A, emphasis added). To the contrary, to seek "the God beyond knowing" is a doomed project which yields only empty abstractions or reflections of how we glorify ourselves. As Luther said: "To seek God outside of Jesus is the Devil" (WA 40,3:337; see also LW 26:28-30). What's lost is the scandal and offense to every generation: the cross (I Cor.1:22). Jesus was crucified because he "made himself the Son of Cod" (John 19:7). Yet the Father vindicated him, revealing their identities: "The mystery has been made known - by revelation - in Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:3-4). Thus God the Father is not named in analogy to human fathers, as feminists incorrectly assume, but only in relation to the Son: God is the Father of Jesus Christ. His name is: "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. " In the ELCA, however, feminist claims are trump. To be sure, the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, and the baptismal formula have not been changed. But these places become small islands in a sea of "expansive" terms for God, especially nature metaphors and depersonalized images, as in the examples below: Wondrous are you, Holy One of Blessing; all you create is a sign of hope for our journey. And so as the morning stars sing your praises we join the heavenly beings and all creation as we shout in joy. Renewing Worship 6, p.62

You, Holy God, Holy One, Holy Three - our Life, our Mercy, our Might, our Table, our Food, our Server, our Rainbow, our Ark, our Dove, our Sovereign, our Water, our Wine, our Light, our Treasure, our Tree, our way, our Truth, our Life -- You, Holy God, Holy One, Holy Three! Renewing Worship 6, p.65 Let it be Purple ... for the Episcopalization of Worship. Renewing Worship is itself evidence of how the ELCA is becoming like The Episcopal Church. In addition to the multiple options mentioned above, the ELCA now offers options on such matters as the bondage of the will. Lutherans have traditionally stood with Luther, confessing: "I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him.. . . (Small Catechism, Apostles Creed, Third Article). Renewing Worship, however, offers pastors the option of asking those being baptized or their parents: "Do you turn to Christ as your Lord and Savior?" (emphasis added). The claim that sinners can "turn to Christ" of their own free will is usually associated with Baptists and most conservative evangelicals. Renewing Worship also offers options that encourage placing confidence in good works. For example, pastors may close a worship service with the following admonition: "Go in Peace. Remember the poor" (RW Liturgies, p.23).

Why just "the poor"? The "option for the poor" is a central theme of liberation theology. In contrast, a Lutheran way to close a worship service might be: "Go in peace. Beware of spiritual pride. " Uniformity on communion as the church's Eucharistic offering to God. Both churches offer a rainbow of options on many issues, but insist on uniformity on communion as a two-way Eucharistic offering. Under Renewing Worship ELCA congregations will follow the Episcopal/Catholic rule which requires the celebrant (under CCM gradually all pastors become sacramental priests), to offer the bread and wine with the words of institution in a Eucharistic prayer to God. In these traditions communion is two-way event. God gives, but the bishop and his priests have special grace, given in their ordinations, to make a right Eucharistic offering to God and to make Jesus present in the sacrament. Renewing Worship follows this Episcopal/Catholic practice (RW Liturgies, pp. 9, 35, RW 6, Holy Communion and Related Rites, Introduction xi), but never explains the Episcopal/Catholic theology supporting it. You know the routine: You don't have to believe it; you just have to do it. The next generation will do it and believe it. What is being phased out of the ELCA is Luther's teaching that the Lord's Supper is a one-way event in which Christ, the sole Lord of the Supper, is present through his Word alone. In his Supper he gives his last will and testament to his heirs. Let it be Rainbow. With all the options offered in the new hymnal - except for the priestly offering of the bread and wine to God in the Eucharistic prayer - the new hymnal should be rainbow.

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