17 January 2020
Liturgy of the Common Man ~ Acceptable Responses
Greetings Dear Reader,
Years ago, I took a friend to a Lutheran church service because he wanted to understand different denominations. His background was a denomination that did not have anything close to a systematized service. I thought that I had prepared him well but I was wrong. As the first hymn ended and the pastor approached the front of the platform, I was thinking about remembering the responses. The pastor canted, “The Lord be with you.” The congregation responded “And also with you,” except for my friend. At the top of his voice, he replied, “Amen! Preach it!”
It was interesting to see several hundred Lutherans turn to look at him as if turning and gawking was part of their practiced liturgical response. The pastor smiled and commented that he loved a drift from the common from time to time. I quietly explained things to my friend as the service continued. When we consider liturgy, we understand that the cants and responses have a pattern and rhythm that we discussed earlier in the week. Part of liturgy as well is that our responses are prescribed. We read them from a book or memorize them.
In our Liturgy of the Common Man, we are much like the congregation of that church when the responses are not what we are used to or are acceptable to our ears. We develop a series of social mores that dictate how we are supposed to respond to social situations. At some level that is a good thing. When, however, a society becomes divided as ours is, political correctness and prescribed speech become the norm, it is a problem.
A fractured society will push an agenda by choosing what is an allowed response to situations and what one should think of feel. Sometimes, it is good to challenge the beliefs and norms of a culture. If we are going to live by the law of love, we cannot purposely be offensive. As a culture becomes more politically correct and engages in a position of what is acceptable, the circle of what is offensive grows larger. Offenses become more onus and people become offended more easily. The day becomes carpeted in eggshells.
There are two responses here. One is to realize that no one gets to tell me how I must respond to a situation other than the Father. He already has. We are to respond to everything in love and kindness. The second is that we are responsible to be unoffendable. We are to stand out in the easily offended world by being lovingly unoffendable. Others may choose to be offended because of my choices. I must not fight with others over things that do not matter. I must hold on to my love and humility.
The Liturgy of the Common Man tells us that our responses must fit the approved words of the cantor. The difficulty of this is that we are supposed to be salt and light in a world that will become increasingly offended by the Gospel. We cannot change them. We can, however, realize that we can live unoffended and refuse the liturgy that calls us to be anything other than loving followers of Christ. It will result in the sound of crunching eggshells as we go and we will tread on a few toes simply by refusing to respond “properly” to the cant of the offended. I will refuse to embrace the liturgy of the perpetually offended. I will do my best to love everyone and be unoffendable. I may stand out but I hope it is for the right reasons.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, "That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a homeowner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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