Friday, May 26, 2006

Lovin' Some Liturgy

Friday after the Ascension

Some kids out there really like the free-form, informal worship. I have to ask...

Have you really read the Old Testament? Do you imagine that a God that spent so much time going on about the ark of the covenant, appropriate lighting, veils, altars, and vestments would just change his mind? Liturgy reflects the drama of salvation, and you need to put a little bit of work into that junk.

Before you leave your comments (which are always very welcome!) do ask yourself, "did he write that because he believes it, just just because he thinks it's interesting...?"

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Richard de Chico said...

Why the black lettering for the Friday after the Ascension? Are we not still in the Great Fifty Days?

(Oh, and I have gladly accepted the moniker you have bestowed. Although I don't really seem much like Zorro to me.)

Richard de Chico said...

The "kids" that come to mind here are mostly balding boomers who wave their bic lighters at a Phil Collins concert ("brought to you by Sears power tools" - no joke, I was there) trying to convince themselves that they aren't going to die.

Trying to put myself in the perspective of the "kids" I think the first problem would be hermeneutical, overcoming the implicit Marcionism of a the age. The question you ask is meaningless to them. The god suggested by the question has no reality for them; a phantom from a forgotten world.

A said...

I think you are probably asking the question for both reasons Kyle Potter.

Kyle said...

Ouch, Richard! I'm sure you're right... and I'll fix the colors. hehe

And A, yes.

S said...

But did not the same God who talked of the Ark of the Covenant, altars, vestments and veils also spend a lot of time telling us not to eat shellfish and how to wash before meals?

Kyle said...

Presumably, yes.

One of Freedom said...

I've always said that we all do liturgy, just some are more honest about it. I agree that we need to work at it. I am far from convinced that liturgical formats have to be stale or even completely uniform - but they do lend a structural framework for great encounters with God and God's story. First time visit so I have no clue why you wrote this - but it is interesting to me.

Kyle said...

Thanks, Frank, for reading and for commenting. I agree with you, particularly in terms of 'everybody does liturgy.' I was just doing some reading, and it had occurred to me that 'informal' isn't always an appropriate kind of intimacy with the trinitarian god. Jesus loves me, but he isn't quite my boyfriend, as it were.

See also Peter's comments from a little while back.

Jim Olson said...


Check out D.G. Hart - Recovering Mother Kirk: The Case for Liturgy in the Reformed Tradition. Hart is the president of Westminster Seminary out in California and a fairly conservative Orthodox Presbyterian. His views a quite politically conservative (too conservative for me, really) but he makes a compelling case for restoration of a Genevan high-liturgical style in the Presbyterian and Reformed churches in America. I think the principles of reform he suggests are useful anywhere.


Anonymous said...


The terseness and flippant tone of your criticism betray a certain ignorance about not only forms of liturgy and worship but maybe also Biblical interpretation. Perhaps this post is some inside joke, the context of which is obviously lost on me. Maybe you just want to rip on your brothers and sisters who prefer to worship in a form you find to be substandard.

It's entirely unclear what you either believe or find interesting. I have to ask myself, what does Kyle believe or find interesting about less structured liturgy, informal liturgy, free form liturgy or any form of liturgy, and what is more, should I really care? From other posts of yours that I've read, you seem to think highly of your liturgical self (homo liturgicus?). Maybe you could say something substantive and constructive about free-form, informal worship.

Kyle said...


No more anonymous comments, thanks. I do have a policy about that sort of thing.

1. Yes, it was an inside joke. You called it with "flippant." Haughty tongue was in Oxonian cheek. Do you know what the joke is? My community in Lexington is a house church. My community in Oxford practices an open-but-ordered" liturgy that I often refer to very fondly as the "technomass."

2. Of course the thesis as stated carries with it a pretty silly biblical hermeneutic. That was the joke. Ha ha.

3. Describing another person's worship of the triune god as "substandard" would be the height of presumption, so no, I wasn't. That wasn't the implication, and why the other critters seemed to think it funny.

(Hell, they probably just groaned at it)

And since you ask, the point was to throw something half-serious into two concerns of liturgy, between "intimacy with God" and taking account of his holiness.

I have actually already written a few things on worship, under the sidebar, "Spiritual Practices: Doing the Jesus Thing." It includes an essay that sought to offer "something substantive and constructive" in defense of "free-form, informal worship."

You might check out "In Defense of Praise Choruses."