Friday, April 23, 2010


Things That Do Matter

Rod Dreher writes about the death throes of some Orthodox churches in Philly. His source is an interesting story from the Philly Inquirer. They talk about liturgy, they talk about language, but this one phrase stuck out at me:
"Nowadays, people like to be different from their parents, [who] wanted to be members and belong to things," said the center's Rabbi Gedaliah Lowenstein. "Young people want to plug in and plug out."
And it struck me - when church bets on anything other that the truth and love of Christ, things like tradition, culture, or politics, it risks going through the same life and death cycles those things do.

But here is the thing, Jesus came precisely to break the cycle of life and death. Our job, as Christians and as the church is to find the eternal and to pass it on. I know, I occasionally rail here against "contemporary worship" but I try very hard not to do so on matters of taste, but on matters of what elevates, what reveals, and what aims at the eternal. Not emotion, not intellect, but spirit - not what inspires, but what elevates. "Contemporary worship" will fail because it is too culture bound just as assuredly as this Orthodox liturgy has.

Three quick points...

When we talk about what to do in church we should not ask what will people relate to - we should ask what points to the eternal.

What is eternal is us, not what we do. That means, in part the church must focus not on the seeker, but on the believer for it is the believer in which the Holy Spirit resides. Lift them up and they lift the world.

I'll take the old liturgy versus the new whatever you call it any day - maybe not in Russian, but the forms and signs were designed specifically to preserve faith and to point to God, not to attract. They have indeed failed in many ways, but only becasue we have failed them, not they us.

Can I get an "Amen?"

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