Full Text for Lutheran Worship 2- Volume 46 - Helping Members Recognize Christ's Presence in Worship (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN WORSHIP 2 46.LW2 Captioning provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 ******** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ******** >> JOSHUA: What are some of the best ways for pastors to help their congregation members be faithful to Christ's presence as we gather together for worship? >> DR. ARTHUR JUST: My mother was a real estate agent at the end of her career. And if you know anything about real estate, there is something that they will say that is critical for selling real estate, and it�s location, location, location. Let me answer this question by saying catechesis, catechesis, catechesis, which simply means, as I�ve said before, teaching the faith, teaching the liturgy. What pastors can do to help people be faithful is to teach them what this beautiful liturgy is all about. This is absolutely at the center of where we need to be as we teach our people how to worship, why they worship. You know, that's one of the failings of our church in the last thirty or forty years. We didn't spend enough time talking about why is we do what we do in our worship. There are a lot of people now, and there are many, many pastors, and there are many materials that have been written that can give us access to the meaning of our worship so that our people can be enriched when they gather into the presence of God. One of the things I did when I was a pastor in a small church in Middletown, Connecticut, is that I engaged in what I called liturgical assimilation. I'll just give you a brief illustration of this to illustrate how it is I think we are able to help our people and even our visitors to become familiar with the liturgy. When I had visitors come into our congregation for the first time, I found that there were two kinds of visitors. There was a visitor who comes from another denomination who had expectations about what they were going to see in worship because there were Christians already. They were baptized. And the expectations they had were what they were used to, whether that be a Pentecostal church or a Roman Catholic Church, whatever. They had expectations. And of course, they wouldn't be familiar with what we do in the Lutheran church because they're not Lutherans, and yet, they had some familiarity because there were some things that they had in common with their own church. The other kind of visitor I had was a visitor who was an unbeliever or somebody who's very, very interested in perhaps being baptized. These were people who essentially had no preconceived conceptions of what went on in church. They didn�t know anything. And in fact, one of the things that I found with these kinds of visitors is that they were asking primary questions, not like a like why you do the Kyrie, or what's the difference between the Methodist understanding of the Lord's Supper and the Lutheran understanding. But they were asking fundamental questions like who is Jesus. What is a Bible. What is the scriptures? What is a creed? I think more and more in this postmodern and post-Christian world we're going to get that kind of a visitor, the visitor who perhaps knows not Christ and is really open to us teaching them. But I think both of those kinds of visitors need to be taught by us what our tradition is all about. When I was a pastor, one of the first things I did because this is what I was told was absolutely fundamental if you wanted to reach the people who came to visit you, is you had to visit them that very same day or the next day because if you didn't visit them right away, you're probably going to lose them. And what I found very early on was that the liturgy was a stumbling block for our visitors because it was different. It was not something they expected. So I found myself, when I visited those visitors, say, on that Monday, right after they attended service, is I took three hymnals with me, one for me and one for each of the people that I visited because oftentimes they came as couples. After we talked for a while, and I learned about them and kind of heard their journey and where they've gone and the various places, either their churchly journey or their life journey, I would say to them, I bet our worship today was a little different for you and maybe was a little difficult to follow. Would you mind if I took fifteen or twenty minutes to explain what we did last Sunday. They were always polite. They always said sure, pastor, why don't you go ahead and do that. So I would open it up to the liturgy and what I would do is I would explain to them and in very, very brief way but very, very focused, many of the things I've explained to you in this course, things like the real presence, things like the two climaxes in the worship, things like the angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven and many of the aspects of the worship that I knew they probably didn't know about. Let me tell you after fifteen or twenty minutes, I usually had pricked their interest so much that they couldn't wait to come to my catechism class where I could explain fully the biblical foundations for this. Now, the reason I bring this as an illustration is this: that here, people who know nothing about the Lutheran faith, but they've come to my church because they expressed an interest in what we are doing in our church. Their interest increased the more they heard about what we believe and how we express that belief in our worship. I had no trouble with people who were visitors and who became members in wanting to change the liturgy of my congregation because I taught them what it meant and they came to love it as I did. In fact, one of the experiences I had was that those people who were new members knew the liturgy and its meaning better than the old members. And in some ways, my old timers were intimidated by the visitors because they were so well-versed in the meaning of the church�s worship life. I think we have to be very careful when we talk about changing our liturgy today because what we are talking about is being faithful to this presence. If we know what it is that we do in worship, we will be faithful because we'll see that our worship is the perfect vehicle for Christ's presence. Now, that also means that we must do the liturgy well, and I�ve already talked about that a little bit. But let me just say one more thing about that. That means that not only do the pastors and musicians know the liturgy and have good coordination and let people sing the hymns, but this is very important especially for those of you who are studying to be pastors, fundamental for people's fidelity in the liturgy is good preaching. In fact, I'm a firm believer that one of the problems in our church and one of the reasons why the liturgy is the fall guy here for many of the things that are going on is because the liturgy cannot speak back or cannot have its feelings hurt. I think one of the crises in our church today is preaching, and people are just too polite to tell their pastors that their preaching needs to improve, that it needs to speak more of Christ, and it needs to be more practical. It needs to address people's lives where they're at. And it needs to reflect the reverence and the fidelity that we're calling for in our liturgical expressions. Preaching is a great and perhaps the greatest opportunity to teach your people about Christ and about our worship. And so when we talk about being faithful and pastors helping their people to be faithful, they have to look at themselves and say, how can I preach in such a way that I can point to this Christ and his bodily presence among us so that these people who come into my worship, whether they be members or visitors, are struck through my sermon that Christ dwells here among us, that he is here with gifts offering those gifts to us, and that those gifts are ones that I hunger and thirst for. Preaching must bring about this hunger and thirst for righteousness. And, in a sense, really what it alerts us to, and this is preaching, is that our liturgy is a great treasure, because our liturgy contains the greatest treasure of all and that is Jesus Christ. And if we see that as the treasure of our worship, then we will be faithful.