My friend Derek has a good Carnival going that is exploring Common Prayer. I admit to having some fundamental questions about the whole notion of a Common Prayer, and the (overdone?) role that worship practices play in the ELCA’s ecumenical dialog. Why must Christian Unity be evidenced in worship? What of the other 167 hours of the Christian’s week?
A few unpolished thoughts, with more clarity to come later this week:
- an ecumenical movement that emphasizes theology, liturgy, sacraments, clergy rosters, ordination practices, worship practices, etc. is inherently hierarchical, the domain of a privileged class of church leaders. How is this dialog meaningful to most people in the pew and to our Christian witness to the world?
- for some real dry reading, check out the ELCA’s vision for ecumenical dialog.
- what of the Christian call to serve the neighbor? What role should striving for justice and peace have in the ecumenical dialog? Can we talk of a Common Calling, a Common Vocation, a Common Life, in addition to (or in lieu of) a Common Prayer?
- I’ve spent the past nine months in a hospital with lots of suffering folks. I’ve listened to many, prayed with some, cried at times. So tell me, what does a 40-page document on sacramental theology have to do with the suffering of the common person?
I like liturgy and worship, and think that shared worship practices can be powerful vehicles for Christian Unity. But I question whether Christian Unity must be expressed in common prayer, or if common faith and common living cannot be a more powerful witness to our unity in Christ Jesus than worship behind walls and closed doors . . .
3 thoughts on “Prelude to Posting on Common Prayer”
Nice teaser…I look forward to seeing were you go. As you know, both Derek (if I may speak for him) and I will suggest in response to your first bullet that worship has everything (or should have everything) to do with what happens the rest of the week. My “common” prayers with the church are often the basis of or motivation for my actions the rest of the week, and my participation (or lack thereof) in daily prayer serves much the same.
LP does speak to me–and I’ll also say something about your last bullet as well…
If it’s not immediately obvious how a forty page tract on sacramental theology intersects the life of one grieving, then the tract sucks and represents bad theology (or else the care-giver is in need of a refresher on proper Lutheran/Christian theology–surely not necessary in your case). Sacramental theology has *everything* to do with our common life.
I’m interested to see where you go with this.
To your first point, Frost and Hirsch say this: “Today, contemporary people are searching for an inclusive community that is democratic, nonpatriarchal and compassionate.” (The Shaping of Things to Come, 134). Their point throughout is that hierarchy serves those it empowers…and not really anyone else.
I appreciate your concern for the “other 167 hours” in the Christian’s week. Your praying and visiting and crying with patients is sacramental; God’s presence and promise manifested in a physical sign — you! Frost and Hirsch again: “…our actions, or more particularly our missional deeds, actually confer grace.” (137) Your ministry is a means of grace. It’s only when most of us hire others to be Christian for us that we need instruction in the use of such means.
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