Marquand doves

Welcome to Lutheran Moxie.  I’m Victoria, and usually I write about just about anything I find interesting.  This has included feminism, social issues and the Church, Lutheran history, and the amazing way in which my dog can manage to eat entire sticks of butter in a single gulp.  For these next few months, however, I’ll be writing about re-traditioning Lutheran liturgy, and using this blog as a point to invite public engagement with the ideas I’m forming.

At this point, you may be asking the very legitimate question, “Why are you bolding made-up terminology like re-traditioning Lutheran liturgy at me, blogger?  What’s the dillio?”

I am so glad you asked, and particularly appreciate your use of “dillio,” a word I think occurs too seldom in bloggy conversation.  The term “re-traditioning” belongs to Diana Butler Bass (The Practicing Congregation):

In its more fluid forms of rejuvenation, adaptation, and invention, retraditioning implies reaching back to the past, identifying practices that were an important part of that past, and bringing them to the present where they can reshape contemporary life.

I’m particularly interested in the ways in which re-traditioning happens in Lutheran liturgy, and the questions it raises:

  • What the heck do we mean by “traditional liturgy” anyway?
  • Is there a Lutheran tradition of worship that we can see by looking for common threads in past Lutheran liturgies?
  • When we “re-tradition,” what parts/habits of our worship get kept?  What gets lost?  What matters?
  • Where do Lutheran congregations that are part of the “emerging church” fit into all this?
  • How does our modern church engage with a postmodern context?
  • How many “quotey-things” can I possible squeeze into this conversation?

I’m going to tip my hand a little here.  While the esoteric phrase “retraditioning Lutheran liturgy” rather makes it sound like I’m just making stuff up as I go along (and trust me, there’s a good bit of that going on as well), I think that this is a conversation worth having because asking questions about the tradition is the Lutheran tradition.

In 1517, an Augustinian monk posted his questions about the prevailing tradition, as legend has it, on the doors of the Wittenberg cathedral.  And thus Luther began the drive toward re-traditioning the Catholic church.  Along the way he accidentally fractured the church and very-not-accidentally called the Pope the anti-Christ, but if you can set aside those distracting details, the moxie that Luther evinced in questioning the status quo for the sake of uncovering a tradition that was a better vehicle for the Good News of Christ–that got built into the foundation of Lutheranism.  Looking critically at tradition in order to uncover its weaknesses as well as its strength and beauty–that’s not a once-and-done job.  It’s a torch that every generation passes onto the next, and we’re carrying it today.

Though hopefully no churches will be fractured in the writing of this blog.  And I definitely like Pope Francis, and don’t think he’s the anti-Christ.  I just want to make that clear up front.

I invite feedback from everyone, and especially from my Lutherans in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (my hoped-for audience).  But to borrow Jason Chestnut’s awesome comment policy: “Be cool.  Don’t make Jesus sad.”

(By the way, the posts about my dog’s mad butter-eating skills are still up.  I wouldn’t do that to you.  Just look to the collapsible sidebar to find them all neatly organized under the “About her dog” label.  You can find all the former content of the blog accessible through that sidebar too.)

3 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Elizabeth Gaskins says:

    re-traditioning is what we do in many of the Native ELCA ministries. Our past tells us who we are and that the Creator made us. You may smell the scents of sage, cedar or sweet grass during the smudging and hear the sound of drums and hymns sung in our own language. Yes, we are traditional Lutherans!

  2. Recently two of my friends, one a Lutheran and one an Evangelical, went out of their way at the same school event to issue putdowns towards liturgical worship in the Lutheran church. Those putdowns prompted me to affirm four simple things about the historic liturgy in a recently published article.

    – Everyone has liturgy.
    – The historic liturgy is scriptural.
    – The historic liturgy enacts Law and Gospel.
    – The historic liturgy moves from God to sinners before it moves from saints to God.

    Those last two are marks of Lutheran thought and practice. They are what make the mass a divine service, in which Jesus again is serving us more than we are serving him, as when Jesus washed Peter’s feet. The current Lutheran angst over worship wouldn’t have to be so anxious if we had the polarity of the service clearly in mind.

    The historic liturgy is scriptural not only in detail, but in metanarrative. It’s the same metanarrative that the Humanists looked for but Luther discovered in the whole of Scripture, and it’s not just about what the Word says, but what the Word does. The Word does stuff. Law does stuff. Gospel does stuff. By making the liturgy scriptural not only in detail, but by enacting the Law-Gospel metanarrative in waves of redeployment, the historic liturgy also does stuff, the same stuff that Law and Gospel do.

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