Treasures New and Old: Developing Resources for Renewing Worship
MICHAEL L. BURK
We should note from the outset that this description of one church body's approach to developing a new generation of worship resources is best understood in a much broader context. People who watch the Renewing Worship project unfold will see the periodic publication of provisional resources. These will shape what finally becomes a constellation of things that may well shape worship among worshiping assemblies in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)for a generation. Still, the project title points to the greater goalrenewal rather than resources.
The Design of Renewing Worship
Twenty-five years after the introduction of the Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW), it is evident that what so many Lutherans refer to as "the green book," and the work that led to its development, has been a treasure within Lutheranism and a gift to wider, ongoing liturgical renewal. As important as it has been, many of the renewing trajectories established or continued by LBW are more important than the volume itself. Even detractors who argue that the time to move beyond the LBW has long passed acknowledge that the church's deeper sense of baptismal identity, with the implications of being both claimed and sent, can be attributed in part to the influence of the LBW. The rich baptismal theology reflected in the volume, together with the embedded vision that worship leadership is best shared because worship is the work of the people, are two aspects of existing resources that should be celebrated and preserved.
Still, the time has come to move forward. In addition to the wear and tear that is evident when you look at the books still filling the racks in so many Lutheran pews, it is equally evident that some matters of design, some ways language is used, and some texts and tunes included in LBW are showing their age.
In the last twenty-five years much has changed in and around the church. The LBW process had been a cooperative pan-Lutheran endeavor that foreshadowed the merger that created the ELCA.1 In some ways, the diversity of thought and practice among members and congregations of this church are more pronounced now than when the predecessor church bodies were distinct. Much of that diversity corresponds to what is happening in other church bodies. It is a multi-layered "cultural thing" that includes and influences worship. A responsible approach to resource development requires an awareness of and a response to the differences that shape the worship life of faith communities. For the ELCA that means that the time is right to replace the LBW precisely because the cultural landscape, to which God's mission is addressed, has changed and is changing.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | Contents