I’m not a fan of the make-over “reality” tv shows. From the few I’ve had the misfortune to catch, I see what I consider a fundamental flaw in the process. Typically, the show begins by showing a person whose wardrobe has not been updated since the late ’80s. Yes, scary. By the end of the show, the person has been “transformed” into a hip, cutting-edge, fashionable modern person. My suspicion, however, is that in another twenty years, you could haul up the very same person and see some one whose wardrobe has not been updated since the early ’00s… My fear is that the trimmings change but the essence is left untouched.
I’ve been thinking about this especially as it applies to liturgy. My class has really helped my focus certain aspects of my liturgical thought especially as it applies to liturgical change in parishes. The point I’ve
found myself making over and over again to my students is this: there are no liturgical changes in a congregation–there are theological changes that have liturgical implications and repurcussions. We don’t do–or *shouldn’t* do liturgy or liturgical actions or rites because they’re “cool” or even “neat”–i.e., the trimmings, we do them because they are the communal expression of the local church’s theology–i.e., the essence. Because of this, one of the most important jobs that church leaders (which means clergy, vestry, and anyone who cares enough about the church to spend their time reading geeky religion blogs like this one) have is basic
catechesis–what do we do and why do we do it. We have to teach people the Gospel–that’s key–but also the the communal implications of the Gospel and how those implications about God and us come together in the liturgy. If “liturgical changes” are made they can and all too often are simply cosmetic and even if they mimic an authentic spiritual tradition without the theological heart and core they’re just as useless as a tv makeover.
Here endeth the sermon.