Saturday, February 28, 2004
The Liturgy Trap
I've been rereading Jim Jordan's The Liturgy Trap, which has been extremely helpful to me in evaluating certain liturgical practices at Grace. I've been going to Grace now nearly every Sunday since we've been back in Monroe, and I've been grateful for the opportunity to learn from these saints and, especially, to see an Episcopal church that still desires to uphold the authority of scripture.
Father Riley once told me that, based on his experience, on a scale of one to ten, one being Low Church and ten being High Church, he would put Grace at about a six or a seven. That said, it's definitely a bit higher than anything I've ever practiced in the past. For instance, when entering and exiting the pews it is customary for parishioners at Grace to make a bow, however large or small, toward the east wall where the the Lord's table or altar is. (Such bowing is indeed required for choir members, acolytes, readers, etc, as part of their choreographed procession & recession.) It is also common for people to cross themselves at Grace, though this is a practice which I've come to appreciate more and more, and thankfully with Dr Jordan's approval. Back to questionable practices, I think the worst thing I've seen at Grace occurred one day during weekday eucharist (where the theme is usually the saints of the minor feast & fast days): Father Riley began the service with a consecration of a new altar cloth. They had gotten a new tablecloth, and he had to go through a brief liturgy before it could be employed in the eucharist. And I said to myself, in disbelief, "Holy cow."
The subtitle of the Jordan book(let) is The Bible Versus Mere Tradition in Worship (emphasis mine). Very helpful thoughts on veneration, saints, succession, confirmation, etc, and though certainly written from a Reformed point of view, I do think it is fair and charitable toward Anglo-Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. Nonetheless, it would be strong medicine for many in those traditions. (Which is why I'm waiting a while until I give it to Father Riley. First, since he enjoys sociological research, I've loaned him The Sociology of the Church as an intro to Jordan. If he likes that, then I'll see if he's ready for The Liturgy Trap.)
At any rate, if these matters concern you, I recommend The Liturgy Trap, available from Biblical Horizons' catalogue.
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