(Continued from Part 1)
In the matter of worship, there are so many styles and variations that one can become confused. In spite of great variety and experimentation, are there norms that should always be there and can be identified?
TODAY’S WORSHIP DIFFERENCES
This is not a plea for Prince Albert Coats as pulpit attire. And the Gloria Patri is not the only way to open a service of worship. But, that event of half a century ago comes to mind as I think of the way public worship is often carried out now.
Today, what one can expect from church to church is unpredictable because a libertarian spirit now pervades our culture. Freedom of expression is everything and “norms” have been seriously downgraded in churches just as they have been in society. Hence, we have much confusion and conflict over how worship should be conducted — even within individual congregations.
Some congregations have adapted their worship to accommodate the styles of contemporary culture, but this has left large numbers of believers finding the sudden and drastic changes wrenching and somehow, as they see it, lacking the authenticity of normative worship. Moreover, others are troubled by the introduction of elements which they consider in poor taste, lacking in aesthetics, and in some cases even crude.
In my travels and conversations across North America I have heard tense discussions about worship. I have met believers who have pulled up long-established roots to leave their church in search of one nearer to their worship ideals, while others have stayed behind but grieve in silence over what they feel is a profound loss.
Beneath the sometimes jumbled collection of the new and old, the historical and innovative, all sides should ask in deep reflection, are there norms from which we can take our reckonings, basics that have endured from age to age? What is the essence of Christian worship, and what is its substance?