Ritual

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by kalawine, Oct 15, 2008.

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  1. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    Most my life I went to churches where ritual meant almost nothing to most people and absolutely nothing to others. My (Southern Baptists) parents went to a Roman Catholic funeral in New Orleans when my Aunt Shirley (my favorite Cajun :)) died and they came back telling me about all the "strange" ritual. It was such cultural shock for them that it scared them half to death. I'm afraid that most of the church today has succumbed to this "non-ritualistic" mindset.
    When I first came to the PCA I now attend I was really nervous because I had been taught (unintentionally I guess) that "those people" read creeds together and have other practices that are cold, dead and ritualistic. Now, when I get to church I can barely stand to wait for the "ritualistic" places in our worship! Together we recite the model ("Lord's") prayer along with the pastor. Later we recite (after the pastor -- he asks the question and we recite the answer) a part of the Shorter Catechism. We also sing the Doxology every week. How can I convey to others the view that I have now? That is, I recite things "ritualistically" but with an honest heart towards the ideas behind those recitals? It really is a matter of the heart isn't it?
     
  2. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that did worship the same way every Sunday. I lasted visited about a year ago and they are doing things basically the same way as they were 40 years ago. I know what you're saying, but if that isn't ritual.....
     
  3. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    :oops: When I mentioned the SBC I didn't mean to cast our SBC'ers in a negative light. That wasn't the purpose of my post. I just meant to point out that ritual doesn't have to be ritualism. And how can I get others to see that?
     
  4. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I would say that is key. I can very directly relate to your experience, both in being brought up as well as the nature of worship at my church home now. One week my dad visited with me, and afterward he said that it had good content and all, but that he didn't feel emotionally moved like he always does in the Pentecostal services. I simply mentioned that if all the direct focus on Christ, God's holiness, our sin, His mercy and assurance of life - if focusing on those things for an hour and a half didn't cause a sense of joy like 20 minutes of contemporary music and altar calls does, just *maybe* the joy accompanying the latter is coming from the wrong source; in other words, from the tunes and not from Christ Himself.

    It also probably comes from a misunderstanding of the work of the Spirit, thinking of an "eb and flow" pattern of activity rather than realizing that He uses means to convict and refresh the believer.
     
  5. biggandyy

    biggandyy Puritan Board Freshman

    That is a weak point in many reformed and protestant worship services and places of worship. The iconoclastic reaction, and in many cases over reaction, against ritual and images and even beauty itself, has swung the pendulum to an opposite extreme.

    Where Romanism began to deify the objects (sometimes of great beauty) around them through worship and veneration the Protestant began to vilify those objects merely on the grounds they were once worshiped. But we forget that God is the creator of beauty.

    When God gave the instructions for building the tabernacle and temple and garments and other objects He took special care and went to great lengths to make sure they were beautiful to behold. Gold and purple and silver and brass, all those things can and do serve a utilitarian purpose (such as to keep the tent posts securely in place) and also poses a spiritual component (pointing towards or picturing Christ), they also had an aesthetic component, they were meant to reflect God's beauty. Not just His Glory or Majesty, or Power.

    When I have opportunity to visit with some Romanist friends and my stay takes me through Sunday I go and attend their worship service. They are very serious Romanists and believe they are on the right path (that part I am helping them with) but what really stands out is the service has a pageantry and visual appeal. The building is impressive in structure and the sanctuary is adorned with gold and silver and is very pleasing to the eye.

    I once attended a service in a stunningly beautiful cathedral. The gothic architecture extended inside the building to the altar where huge spires from the altar reached to nearly the top of the vaulted ceiling.

    It was a beautiful experience to behold.

    But...

    When the service started and the priest began speaking something odd struck me. While the contents of the building were appealing and beautiful and sought to direct the observers eye upward towards God the service did not. The people there did not.

    It was as if the building was yearning to reach towards God but the people were content to sit in the pews, small and unnoticed by Man and God. It was empty inside even though it was full of people.

    On one extreme we have the external trappings of beauty but emptiness inside. On the other hand a protestant sanctuary can sometimes be mistaken for a doctor's waiting room. Not one scintilla of beauty is allowed to creep in. That is, I feel, as big a mistake as worshipping the beauty of the workmanship of Man... ignoring the visual beauty of God.

    I would love to have a few prints of Rembrandt or Tintoretto or even the Master of 1518 throughout the sanctuary, to remind us that God is not just Love and Justice and Righteousness but also Beauty.
     
  6. Thomas2007

    Thomas2007 Puritan Board Sophomore

    By not attempting to redefine the term ritual.
     
  7. biggandyy

    biggandyy Puritan Board Freshman

    I just realized I veered awaaay off topic in my last post.

    Let's see if I can tie them both together (at least without some 550 cord)...

    I suppose when the ritualism begins to creep itself ONTO objects rather than be directed UPTO God and the Lord Jesus Christ is where Protestants should have drawn the line, rather than toss away everything, ritual, beauty, and the sense of being in a place that is set aside for worship.

    (ooo.. nice save ;))
     
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I have no problem with decent furnishings, and well appointed architecture.

    But that's where I draw the line.

    There's a good reason why NT worship is "plain", and why we Reformed don't load up on the "art" and decor. That is OT style. And Paul himself tells us that all that earthly "glory" did its job, and did it well in that age: it OBSCURED the glory of GOD. That was one of its main functions (see 2 Cor. 3:7-18). The believer had to work harder to see past the types and shadows to the reality.

    When we go to church, we are supposed to be recognizing that true worship takes place "in heaven" (Calvin). We are involved in an in-breaking of that age into this one. Our untrammeled faith-senses are hearing and seeing the Lord of Glory, as heaven an earth intersect for a worship-hour or so.

    It is a significant failure of RC and EO worship, not to mention JoelOsteen and the rest of the "religious glam", that their professed intent to give people a sensual feast and thereby a "heavenly experience", is exactly what will TAKE IT AWAY.

    The Lutherans and the Anglicans would not go the distance. They kept the art, the statuary, the crucifix, the vestments, the gold plate, etc. The leaders gave the people what they wanted, and not what they needed (in the Puritan opinion). Reformation-lite.

    Bottom line, it is your attitude going in, not the surroundings that make the difference. If you go to the plainest 18th century style meetinghouse with the proper understanding (and the Word and Sacrament in purity), realizing that there is literally next-to-nothing between you and the "world to come", nothing to block your vision, you will get a purer taste of heaven, than in any setting where the earthly beauties, sounds, or smells, distract you.
     
  9. kalawine

    kalawine Puritan Board Junior

    How did I do that?
     
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