The Place of Solemnity and Ritual in Worship

Having pointed out something alarming in the Episcopal Church yesterday, let me today point out a great article from an Episcopal priest. I read this article back in November and have been meaning to comment on it since. The article, subtitled “An Episcopal Priest on Casual Ministers & Reverent Marines,” appeared in the November issue of Touchstone. I thought this was a powerful piece, and I encourage you to read it. It is only 1.5 pages in the print magazine. The article grew out of the stark contrast observed at a funeral between the presiding minister and the Marines involved.
The author noted:

The care and dignity of the military rite put the Christian rites to shame. I don’t believe that the priest was intentionally irreverent or unprepared. But by comparison with the marines’ reverent ritual, the chapel service and the committal seemed slapdash.

The author then made six observations. I will highlight three:

1. It is hard to be casual and solemn at the same time.

2. It is hard to be solemn if you are in a hurry.
Haste says that something else is more important than what you are doing at present:
The trend … in the last forty years has been to shorten the services, to streamline things, so that people don’t get bored. … The mentality says, “We know you have more important things to do, so we’ll get through the worship as quickly as possible.”

3. Ritual still has power, even in a culture that in many ways despises it.

My point is not to embrace all of Episcopalian liturgy but to highlight the importance of solemnity and meaningful acts in our worship. Breeziness may be hip, but it is not well suited for arresting the attention of a flighty culture with eternal verities.
I encourage you to read this article and consider the way in which you lead the people of God in worship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *