Author Topic: Opening worship  (Read 1552 times)

Richard Johnson

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Opening worship
« on: August 05, 2019, 07:20:42 PM »
The opening worship was about what one comes to expect at ELCA gatherings: a generally traditional service, but with a lot of odd changes and additions, engaged in with enthusiasm more enthusiastic than thoughtful.

It was advertised that "preservice music" would start at 2:30. It was lovely music, but as the assembly members trickled and then flooded in, it got too noisy to hear it--especially to hear a lovely Bach unaccompanied cello suite. They finally got wise and switched to brass, which at least one could hear.

There was the obligatory "Native American Call to Worship" which at least seemed to have Christian content--no prayers to the four winds, at least in English. This set the stage, though, for a liturgy that was awash in "creation" as we gave thanks for various and sundry rivers, streams, trees, animals (no manatees this time). The processional hymn (excuse me, "gathering song") was a new (I suppose) versification of the prayer of St. Francis, the one we know as "All Creatures of Our God and King." This one is "All creatures, worship God most high," with careful attention to avoiding any possible masculine language for God... oops, it gets in there in the last verse, "bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Lots of verses, lots of interludes, lots of people processing in--including the entire gaggle of bishops, some wearing alb and stole, some wearing copes, at least one wearing something that I think was supposed to be a cope but looked more like a costume to play Icarus in a school play.

Bishop Eaton presided, and her liturgical style, as usual, was competent. One thing I found frustrating is that the backdrop behind the "chancel" is a huge screen on which is projected various scenes--typical, I guess, of worship in a large convention setting, but some of these slides were actually doing that "panning" thing and every time I looked at the front, especially if any of the worship leaders were standing, I had an immediate sense of vertigo. They finally settled on a shot of the chancel of some church somewhere, which seemed a little cheesy to me--a photo of a chancel behind the "chancel," so "altar behind altar" etc.

There was a gospel procession that sort of missed its mark; rather than reading from the midst of the assembly, they migrated all the way to the rear. I think maybe they were reading it from the baptismal font (I was near the front and couldn't really see). I could see, however, the weird "canopy" made out of some meshy fabric, looking sort of like a bridal veil, stretched over the gospel book and reader.

The preacher was ELCA Secretary Chris Boerger, who is retiring after this assembly. It actually had some Lutheran content, since he quoted from the Small Catechism and the Augsburg Confession. But then there was a lot of political stuff in there--patting the ELCA on the back for, 50 years ago, agreeing to ordain women, and 40 years ago ordaining the first women of color, and then 10 years ago persons of varying sexualities. You could tell it was political because people clapped at all of these. Oddly, no mention of the mass shootings this past weekend, but Boerger doesn't always ad lib well and probably his sermon was finished days ago. The shootings did make it into the prayers, which prevented people from applauding. (I wondered if maybe I was overreacting, but then I got an unsolicited email from a retired pastor who went to seminary with Boerger. His comment: "It's now starting to sound like Chris won't retire but join the crowd of Democrat candidates."

Hymn of the day was the magnificent tune Thaxted and the insipid text by William Whitla ("Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth, give freedom's light to captives, let all the poor have worth"). Ugh.

The prayers must have come from the people who give us "Sundays and Seasons." They managed to hit every possible oppressed or burdened group, every issue of the day, and made sure to make it clear to God just whom we were praying for.

The "Eucharistic prayer," if it can be called that, was really lame. There was a repeated addressing of "O God triune" (infelicitous at best, unless required rhythmically in a hymn, and even then not as an address).

The distribution was a little awkward, beginning with those doing the distributing (bishops and synod vice presidents) not quite knowing what they were doing, so, during the offertory, gathering like a flock of turkeys over on the side, looking confused. It didn't appear that all the pairs were where they were supposed to be. The written instructions told us to leave our row by going out the left side, but in our case, there was no communion station there, and the nearest one was much more easily approached from the right side, so we just disobeyed the written instructions--you know, like in the parish. There was no instruction that we were supposed to receive by intinction, so I drank from the chalice (as I prefer and as we do at my church), which really rattled the chalice bearer for a moment. Another oddity: The instructions for communion say "Be assured that Christ is fully present by receiving only the bread or the wine. The bread used at all stations was prepared in a gluten-free facility." But "For pressing reasons of health, grape juice is available at every station in the second cup." OK then.

The best thing in the service was a children's choir, which sang at several points and was lovely. The worst was the benediction:
Our loving parent,
our living water,
our abiding helper,
one God + bless you, keep you and send you forth in home.

I think I like "O God triune" better.

Waiting now for the opening plenary. . . .
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 08:01:42 PM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2019, 07:27:43 PM »
The processional hymn (excuse me, "gathering song") was a new (I suppose) versification of the prayer of St. Francis, the one we know as "All Creatures of Our God and King." This one is "All creatures, worship God most high," with careful attention to avoiding any possible masculine language for God... oops, it gets in there in the last verse, "bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Sounds like ELW #835, by "Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226; tr. composite", copyright 1987 Augsburg Fortress.

Pax, Zip+
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2019, 10:06:13 PM »
After reading this I am all the more profoundly thankful to have been accorded the great privilege of cantoring the Vespers for the Holy  Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

http://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/h/s/2019/08/05/ve2/en/index.html

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Richard Johnson

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2019, 10:58:48 PM »
The processional hymn (excuse me, "gathering song") was a new (I suppose) versification of the prayer of St. Francis, the one we know as "All Creatures of Our God and King." This one is "All creatures, worship God most high," with careful attention to avoiding any possible masculine language for God... oops, it gets in there in the last verse, "bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Sounds like ELW #835, by "Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226; tr. composite", copyright 1987 Augsburg Fortress.

Pax, Zip+

I guess you're more familiar with ELW than I.  ;D
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TERJr

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2019, 11:10:19 AM »
Apparently the proposed implementing resolutions from the social statement are already in effect.

Dave Benke

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2019, 12:49:54 PM »
Chris Boerger, retiring Secretary, is also my second cousin on my mom's side (Boerger).  We had a nice conversation a few years back when he was in town.  His background is therefore LCMS, pre-split.

Dave Benke

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2019, 01:10:48 PM »
Apparently the proposed implementing resolutions from the social statement are already in effect.

That's how we roll in the ELCA.
[/cynicism]

Richard Johnson

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2019, 02:53:11 PM »
Chris Boerger, retiring Secretary, is also my second cousin on my mom's side (Boerger).  We had a nice conversation a few years back when he was in town.  His background is therefore LCMS, pre-split.

Dave Benke

Yeah, you guys are insidiously enmeshed in the ELCA, mostly for ill.  8)
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Opening worship
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2019, 12:50:18 AM »
The processional hymn (excuse me, "gathering song") was a new (I suppose) versification of the prayer of St. Francis, the one we know as "All Creatures of Our God and King." This one is "All creatures, worship God most high," with careful attention to avoiding any possible masculine language for God... oops, it gets in there in the last verse, "bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."


Was it #835 in ELW? It was a text copyrighted in 1999.


I see that Steven already beat me to the ELW.


"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]