Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Divine Service, and Lazy Blogging

Since Christopher was so nice as to fed my ego give me a very sweet compliment, I stopped by his blog, St. Cynic. This team blog has some very good discussion over there, though the title does warn of some of the tone that you can find there. They definitely possess some sarcastic wit.

They had a discussion on worship, and I ended up spending a little too much time typing my response than I should've (what else is new?), but I would've written about the subject over here, so I decided to do just that....

I started with presenting a hymn that did a good job sharing the Lutheran view of worship -- known as the Divine Service...(this is hymn 683 in LSB)

Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me
by Paul Gerhardt

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me
No thought can reach,no tongue declare;
Unite my thankful heart to Thee
and reign without a rival there!
Thine wholly, thine alone I am;
Be Thou alone my constant flame.

O grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone;
Oh, may Thy love possess me whole,
My joy, my treasure, and my crown!
All coldness from my heat remove;
My ev'ry act, word, thought be love.

This love unwearied I pursue
and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.
Oh may Thy love my hope renew
Burn in my soul like heav'nly fire!
And day and night, be all my care
To guard this sacred treasure there.

In suff'ring be Thy love my peace,
In weakness by Thy love my pow'r;
And when the storms of life shall cease,
O Jesus, in that final hour,
Be Thou my rod and staff and guide,
And draw me safely to Thy side!

I think this hymn reflects the doctrine of what we confessional Lutherans (and Calvinists are re-embracing it too, Calvin wrote and knew about this) call "The Divine Service." The Divine Service is a view of worship that rather than touting that worship is us doing work for God, is stating that God comes to us in the worship service and nurtures and feeds us. He invites us in His presence, and we are worthy by nature of being baptized into His death and resurrection. He forgives our sins, He hears our pleas for mercy, and thusly, we can praise him. Then He feeds us with His Word and with His very body and blood, in all of these Means of Grace, strengthening us for the duty of serving our neighbor through the vocations that he has given us in this week ahead.

In the hymn above, my faith, my strengthening, my comfort, my desire to serve all come from God. He gives these to me. He leads me. He sanctifies me for Him.It takes away any doubt of whether I am serving well enough, whether I am determined or devoted enough, or whether I really mean it. Christ already forgave me those inadequacies and is just there to feed me. Only when I am free of these doubts can I truly praise Him.

It took YEARS for me to not only understand this, but to believe it and take comfort in it, but it truly is a comfort and a joy. My faith was given to me by God, and He sustains it. Sure, I have to attend church and read my Scripture, but the Holy Spirit even gives me the desire to do that and teaches me as I do that. He is teaching me, loving me, and forgiving me through these Means of Grace. He is regenerating me into the child He wants me to be. It is not by my will, or I would surely fail.

This is the real point where the liturgy is far superior to contemporary worship. Every word I hear, say, and sing are Scripture or firmly based upon it. It is replete with God's promises. It tells me not only that God is good, but WHY he is good, what He has done for me. And it even makes it so that I am not relying on my own words to praise Him, but even utter words He has given me in Holy Scripture.


Thursday's Child said...

Excellent post, as usual. While I enjoy the service at my church they're not big on more traditional hymns, though we do hear them sometimes. I miss the good ones!

Joy said...

Bingo! There are no better words with which to worship our God than what He has given us. And someday, when I am old and my mind is overcome with dementia as my grandmother's was, these ancient yet deathless words of Christ and His saints may well be the only evidence of my faith. What peace for me and those I leave behind!