Full Text for Lutheran Worship 2- Volume 83 - Cultural Diversity in Worship, part 2 (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN WORSHIP 2 83.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. ******** >> PAUL: Next question touches upon one of the most challenging aspects of my ministry among the Haitian immigrants. Just as the original Saxon Lutherans longed for the language and other cultural elements in Germany, so the Haitian immigrants seek to hold onto their heritage. Given the cultural diversity with which so many pastors are confronted, how can we approach cultural dimensions in worship within their congregations? >> DR. JAMES BRAUER: We've already started to explore that by thinking about kind of communication theory in this. But now we want to turn, as you suggest, to how would you sort this out with a given group. And here, we can provide on the screen some of the data that I'm now going to present. I call it seven factors in planning. The first ones are theological, shall we say, and the last five are secondary but important cultural ones. First, think about the *sacramentum sacrificium aspects of the service. Is the moment primarily for receiving God's gifts? Is the moment for giving thanks, for asking God for something, a prayer or praise act? Is it, perhaps, just kind of the moment of fellowship as the kiss of peace would be? Often, we don't have many of those in our liturgies. So the first two categories: the gifts, the thank you moves what direction is going on? And so you're trying to assist what's happening by identifying what that function is. The second concept is to think about the sequence of events and your timeline. What is the sequence? Are you going to start with a prayer? Are you going to start with some kind of ceremony that begins it, say, a procession? Are you going to start by changing posture? Now, these might be culturally adjusted. For example, in consultation with some pastors who worked among the Chinese on the west coast, I discovered they prefer not to kneel for Holy Communion because that brought up an image that was negative, they said, in having to kneel before some warlord in Chinese history. Now, I can counter that pastor�s observation with some biblical things, with some European stories that would be similar. That's how we explain their preference. So if I had to work among his people, I would really be slow, if I wanted them to kneel at that point, in introducing it until they could use that in a way that was really meaningful to them, as opposed to giving two messages, one which was negative and one which is the theological meaning that I was trying to employ. So we're thinking, then, of that sequence of events and the choices are around it, and now we have to think of size. It would be strange to have a service in which you had a minute of prayer and fifty-five minutes of reading from scripture. So you actually think in terms of what people can bear as a burden or how long their attention span is in deciding what they can do. For example, we do this kind of normally with, really, aged people and really young people. If you're going to do a service with preschool children, you know that their big muscles are going to have them moving so you may even choose to have them move as part of the service in order to take that energy and use it for your purposes. You may choose short things, since they can't read. They need, in a sense, to memorize or repeat. And then the pace and the expectations, since their attention spans aren�t always perfect, you need to adjust for that so you're kind of getting the idea. People who are late in life have difficulty moving can feel quite upset sometimes when they can't do the motions that others can do like kneeling and standing frequently. So we make some adjustments and we think, particularly, how long is the attention span, how long can they do this. And so we're thinking of a series of prayer, praise, word, sacrament that liturgy often gives as in design, but we're consciously thinking, you know, can they do that psalm verses one with easier text. So we're adjusting and putting together in a sequence so there's a proper balance between the gifts and the response for the size of service we're going to do. So that's now, number one, direction, gifts or thanksgiving, time, the sequence of events and the appropriate sizes. And we move to things that are even more cultural. We can think of the educational level. How much language can we employ that you could find in the dictionary. There are words there that would stump most people, but there are also words that almost everybody can understand. So we may even choose to use very simple materials with certain people because that fits. We may choose certain visual elements in the language, say, if this is a group that had lived in rural areas in Asia or Africa and was very connected to nature in their whole history of their people and the way they talked about things, you would choose language that employed those kind of images. So that might be a level, but you can think level of--within Christianity. A neophyte can't use words like righteousness with ease. So you look for alternative ways to do that. So how much biblical content can you put in a sentence? And biblical words can be used. That's a level. That's a cultural question based on the people you have. Now, the next one I call mode. You can use the ear, the eye, the body. We can't communicate with anybody unless we use the senses. We have taste, hearing, sight, feeling, what am I forgetting? But mainly we're going to use the ear and the eye. Taste actually occurs in Holy communion. Feeling occurs in baptism because you can feel the water. So there's a way, in a sense, to give a message to a body that way. And the changing of posture can be to use the body. So for the ear, now let's focus on that one. Is this going to be spoken or sung? It it�s sung, they need, in a sense, to be able to decode or to sing what you�ve asked them to sing. And if it's sung by somebody else, does the kind of sound they're going to hear actually serve the event, or does it distract them because it's a timbre or a style that is just too strange to them. So you can move between sung and spoken, depending on the group you're working with. Is this one voice? Is it a group of voices? Is it everybody in the room? Now think about how that would apply to doing certain parts of the service. Everybody, in a sense, could say the Lord's prayer if they know it from memory, even young children, even people who have lost their eyesight. If you're doing a psalm, it may be the leader does most of it and the people do a refrain. Or you might have a small group do it, and then the people join with an easy part. Or you just take turns between groups. And this begins to help people pay attention so it's a cultural factor you need to consider what the kind of person you're working with and what language level, as we did in the third point. So that's mode, ear, eye. What's the object you're asking people to look at? Now, we've come so much to depend on the eye gate looking at a television screen to see something, we actually can't hear music unless we see a picture. This seems really strange to me. I grew up hearing music before I saw any pictures of it. But they need to see a performer, in a sense, to actually listen to. They don't know how to just take the sound. Yet, we walk around with headsets on listening to music. So maybe that's a claim they make that's not really true. But you ask what can they look at; therefore, we often put objects and pictures and images and messages in the room so when people's thoughts drift from the central thing that's happening, they're kind of drawn back to the central things we're about, even though they're distracted. The eye can be a powerful tool. We've already mentioned things about body like the posture or the use of gestures or movements. For example, it is practiced in Africa, I am told, that people bring their offering to the altar. That isn't anything that I saw in my childhood. In fact, they had people who took it up there for you, and you didn't really go to the altar by yourself unless you went to communion. So this will vary considerably on the group you're working with, what kind of movements and gestures and postures and what these all mean and what feels comfortable to them. So there, I call that mode, ear, eye, body. Now we move to mood. Often, Lutherans--Lutheran pastors--don't like to talk about mood. But mood is always kind of there. You have the capability, I'm sure, to walk into a space where people have gathered and almost the first thing you catch is what kind of mood am I encountering. If they all look sullen, they're hardly talking to each other, and it's in quiet whispers, you're not going to come in and start a whole jubilant celebrated kind of conversation with somebody because you sense that's not where they are. Now, over time, the whole group may move in that direction. But we�re sensitive to the mood. Now, think how this can vary from people to people. I didn't know that many Norwegians in my life, but they lived closer to the Arctic Circle than my forbearers who came from North Germany. And South Germany has a warmer kind of interaction. You can think of gemutlichkeit and Bavarian beer, and if you move even further south, closer to the warm sunny Mediterranean, you have a very effervescent Italian interaction. And some of the Italians--descended people I know actually get like eight inches their faces apart to talk and there's a lot of hand motions. Now, I'm associating that with their closeness to the sun. The Norwegians would never do that. That makes everybody uncomfortable. Now, these are people differences I�m illustrating in a very simple way from Europe that you want to become aware of. Somebody who came from Ethiopia once told me those of us that come from East Africa are quiet, meditative kind of people. I don't know if he's right because I haven't been there, as opposed to the West Africans who are much more bubbly and excited and not quiet. That was his observation. So the emotional expression that's natural to a group can change from group to group, and you become aware of this. You learn how they do awe, how they do sorrow, how they do quiet meditation that fits with them, and whether they find it comfortable to do that. So that's a sorting out of mood and how they read these things. Now, if you're going to employ a change of mood or you want it to be in the service, you have to find then, how this gets expressed, and you need to choose the body motions that would go with that. You need to choose a vocabulary. You need to choose the tone of voice that would fit. And if you want to, in a sense, move a group toward greater excitement, you have to know what factors you're going to use to get them there. And actually, you might want to think that there's more than one mood in a service. You might enter meditatively, move them to excitement in a hymn, and then move them to a quiet meditation around the Lord's Supper, or you can do it in reverse and start with jubilation, move to quiet attention to the word, and back to a very interactive kind of moving to the Lord's Supper and back from it. So that's mood. This is a factor you're going to deal with. This varies people by people. Now I come to my sixth one which I call intensity. What do you imagine is to be the high point of the service? High point in the sense of what are you working toward. What should people grasp as being the center of it? Now, if we were doing a drawing of a mountain range, and I drew three mountains in a row and each one was the same height, we would discover that�s pretty boring. But if I draw one that's quite high and two that kind of point to it, now I have a more interesting design. Now, this can be very subtle over time in a service, but you can actually think about this. What is to be the centerpiece. Then I need to control the other elements to assist the intensity that I want at that point or to make the high point. And if I want it to be extended, what am I going to do to extend it. For example, you have a hymn that has nine stanzas that's very jubilant. Well, is everything just going to be absolutely loudest? Finally, that's not even loud. There's no change. So you might think of a way, in a sense, to start that way, to extend it for two or three stanzas, then to let smaller groups or something do it or change some other factor in the music by removing instruments or voices from it, and then build back to a nice ending. Or you might have a design in which the loudest part is in the middle, but you actually think about this. This is quite natural for musicians to sort this out So what is the intensity you want, not only in message, but in how it's done? If you don't know what the high point is supposed to be, then you haven't really thought about your design and how that fits with the people you have. My seventh factor is music. Now, this is actually the hardest one because there are so many personal preferences now. But you can ask these questions: what contributes to the variety of melody, harmony, rhythm, kind of sound, timbre, or the forms that are used? Now, if everything the congregation does is in a hymn form, there's a certain sameness to that, even though you have variety in it. So it may be an advantage that some parts are chanted and some parts are like a hymn form in sound. And that there are solo voices that have a totally different kind of accompaniment to it. That can contribute to the variety and ability to pay attention and to the self-expression that occurs in certain things. You can ask what's familiar and what's new. If it's not familiar, it's harder to do. If it's brand new, it may be very interesting but kind of challenging. If everything is brand new, a few people will be happy, but most everybody will be worn out by the time they--they may actually concentrate on the musical event as opposed to the text that is attached to it. So you have to kind of think through these things depending on what your group knows and is able to do with ease. Really, the pastor is essentially going to think at how well does what's happening in the music fit what's going with the text so that we're saying what God says, and the people are saying back to Him what he really wants to hear. And the self-expression that comes in it is more oriented to how do people feel it is authentic and fitting to themselves in that expression. So those are seven factors we can think of in planning worship that go to culture and we really haven't named any particular culture along the way. I view these questions as usable on almost any group. And we have some other things beside that language and the translation which would be to find another way to do certain things which we could call a dynamic equivalent.