Thursday, October 23, 2008

So...are you Catholic?

So I'm going to this Mom's group at a nearby church. It's so nice that I can leave the house at 9:22 a.m. and still be on time for the 9:30 meeting after dropping Caleb off in the nursery! We're reading the Five Love Languages book by Gary Chapman, and I think I'm the only one who gets it (my, isn't that conceited of me). What really tipped me off is when I said I was hoping to find out what my husband's love language is, and they all looked at me as if I had said something really strange. I mean honestly, girls, the subtitle of the book is "How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate," not, "How to get your husband to do what you want." And if you know anything about husbands, you know that the way to get your husband to love you the way you want to be loved, is to love him the way he wants to be loved. Nagging does not (I repeat) does not work.

So anyway, I happened to mention that I belong to a church in a far-away town (which, for the record, is only a half hour drive), and afterwards one of the women was saying I should join their church so I wouldn't have to drive as far. Using my husband as an excuse (as is my practice when he's not there to defend himself), I told her that he doesn't like the Lutheran liturgy--he thinks it's too formal. And then she looked at me and said, "so...are you Catholic?"

What more liturgious Christian denomination is there than Catholic? Makes me wonder if this woman knows what a liturgy is, but it also highlighted to me the lack of diversity of churches in this area. I know of two small Baptist churches, one independent (non-denominational, so they say), one Catholic, one United Methodist, and the rest are Lutheran, of various varieties. When we lived in West Virginia, most of the churches were United Methodist, and where my husband's family lives, most of the churches are Christian Reformed. I suppose this goes a long way to explaining cultural differences in the areas we've lived.

As an aside, I'm getting to the point where I think the liturgy is too formal, too, which is why I'm happy with our non-liturgious Worship. There are good things about using a liturgy, and I'm very thankful that I grew up in a church with a liturgy, because those phrases that we said over and over come back to me when I need them, but at the same time, when you say the same thing over and over and over again, you stop listening to what you're saying, and it starts to lose its meaning. And I think that's when our Worship loses its authenticity.

And I've noticed that liturgies can be downright unwelcoming. First off, in churches that use a liturgy, all of the members know it and don't have to be told how to follow along, but visitors are usually left to their own devices, and get lost quite easily. Second, have you listened to what you're saying? In the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) church where Logan attended preschool, one of the very first things they say every Sunday is that they're horrible, unworthy, and worthless human beings who don't deserve God's love. Obviously, I'm paraphrasing, here, but that's the feeling of the passage. I don't understand why, on Sundays when they know they are going to have more visitors than members present, they decide to lead with that. If I wasn't already a Christ follower, I would have just stopped listening after that, smiled when the kids went up to sing their song, and then bolted out of there as soon as I could, never to return. Who, besides a masochist, would want to be reminded of their worthlessness every week? Now, I have nothing against confession, even corporate confession (which we don't do a whole lot of in our church), but could we please just emphasize God's love and compassion and forgiveness while we're doing it? (I think the liturgy at the church my parents attend addresses confession better).

Yes, I know, none of these earthly churches is perfect, including the one we attend, because earthly churches are human organizations, and we humans haven't figured out perfection yet. Praise God that we don't have to be perfect.

1 comment:

  1. You know... I'm less surprised she did not realize what liturgy meant. But everyone knows (apparently not everyone) that Catholics are on the high-side of formal, and you didn't say Scott did not like liturgies... just that he thought the Lutheran one was too formal.

    It seems that almost everyone in my church (who I have talked about it with ... which is not really that many ... maybe about 10 or so ... which is still enough to see a pattern) seem to be ex-Catholics who love our church (which is ECLA Lutheran) because it is not as formal. They usually say "uptight" or "strict", which is not necessarily the same as formal ... but I think is actually the root of their issue with the Catholic Church. My guess is that they still want some sort of structure ... or as Scott would probably point out, they would have chosen something less formal than Lutheran.

    You know, I have been to your church(es), and it did not really strike me as non-liturgical. Technically speaking, a liturgy is simply a pattern of worship, and since I do not go to your church on anything like a regular basis, I would not have the opportunity to see a pattern or lack thereof. Usually a liturgy is considered a specific set of words followed by a specific set of responses, but it really does not have to be.

    I guess it is hard for me to imagine a completely non-liturgical church. Most of that is because for the most part, I have been to Lutheran churches (which I think out of the reformation churches is the most liturgical) , but also because I think it is because there is no completely non-liturgical worship. Every time you worship, there is a pattern to it. Whether or not there are set words every time, the base pattern is always (or should always be) the same: you worship God, and you do it every time you go to church.

    For that matter, those of us who say grace before dinner are practicing a liturgy. Just the fact that you go to church at a certain time on a certain day of the week is a liturgy. When your bedtime routine for your kids includes a prayer ... it is a liturgy.

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