|Actual photo of Crusty talking with bishop.|
First Sunday on the job, Crusty noticed the altar in one of the congregations was up against the wall, so COD celebrated facing the altar, back to the people. Now Crusty knows there's all sorts of deep theological reasons for facing the people versus facing the table, has heard all of the of pros and cons, but the reality is, when Crusty does this, he can only think about one thing: "Does this alb make my
|Bringing liturgical booty back! Tell all you lowchurch suckahs that! No, COD just playin'.|
Crusty thought then and there: this is where we begin to deal with both issues identified by the bishop. For the bishop's first goal, moving the altar out would be a way to begin to get this congregation to move on from Pastor X, whose decision it had been to move it and marginalize the celebration of communion, and who had been gone for three years. For the second, Crusty resolved to start slowly by beginning to celebrate communion every other week and pull the congregations into the liturgical mainstream of the ELCA.
COD lifted up the table and moved it quite easily back from the wall. He stepped back and asked the altar guild lady, "What do you think? Do you think anyone will be upset about this?"
"Why would they be upset about where it was for 95 years before it got moved?" she replied, matter-of-factly.
COD went home and told CODW his plan. She asked about possible reaction from the congregation, despite what altar guild lady had said. "What are they going to do, fire me? Let them, I've got a day job and they just fired your last pastor," COD replied.
Next Sunday, nobody said a thing.
Crusty was reminded of this incident as he read through the Liturgics and Church Music question.
Set 4: Liturgics and Church Music
In the summer of 2015 you are hired to serve as vicar of two yoked mission congregations. The diocese plans that in two years these two congregations will be merged into one. You have been charged with preparing the congregations for the merger.
The missions are within twenty miles of each other, each with a steady average Sunday attendance of 30. One congregation is accustomed to a Prayer Book Rite II Eucharist and has volunteer song leaders, a guitarist, and a pianist. The second parish is accustomed to texts from Enriching Our Worship and has a part-time paid organist. All of the musicians are competent.
Liturgical planning and execution always need to build on a foundation of liturgical and sacramental theology.
In an essay of 1,000 words, develop a liturgy plan for your first Advent season with the intent of moving toward a single worship pattern, anticipating the merger. Giving a rationale for your choices and explaining the liturgical and theological reasons, present your choices for liturgy and music. Include specific selections in three areas. Choose one from the following: hymnody, service music, Eucharistic prayers and other variable texts; and choose one from the following: actions, non- verbal behaviors, and spatial arrangements. The third choice can come from either list.
You're making this hard on me, #GOE2015: like Inigo Montoye was in the revenge business so long he didn't know what to do with himself when it was over, Crusty does know what to do with this year's GOE. For the fourth straight time, Crusty likes this question (though, as usual, has some quibbles).
--For one, it again deals with a real issue facing the church: issues of church consolidation, closure, and revitalization are ones that we are facing now and will increasingly face moving forward. That's just the reality, for a number of reasons. COD has said previously on this blog that decisions we make in the next 10 years will help determine if we close or consolidate from 25% up to 50% or more of our churches. Crusty isn't particularly in despair about this, we need to see it as opportunity to recalibrate how we do ministry. The church does this every millennium or so, the house churches of Dura Europos eventually gave way to gothic cathedrals.
--COD likes this because it takes something the church must address and frames it around what is often one of the more hot-button aspects in a congregation, namely, liturgy. COD has often seen issues around liturgy come up in conversations around church consolidation, especially if that conversation involves ecumenical partners, since every congregation thinks its liturgy is normal and/or normative, and informs a sense of identity and place. COD loved nothing more when supplying at congregation and asking how they handle the logistics of celebration and distribution of communion. "Oh, pretty straightforward," is always the reply, when, in fact, there are often dozens of slightly different ways this happens. To give just one example, COD was once elevating the host for the fraction anthem, about to break it, when suddenly the organist kicked in and the choir sang a verse from a hymn, which they did every week none of which was in the bulletin or had been disclosed to him.
--COD enjoys that the setting is Advent, which somehow seems appropriate for beginning this two-year journey with these two congregations.
Crusty has some concerns about a couple of aspects of the setup:
--There needs to be a little more about context, mainly: Do these congregations know about the plan for merger? Are you being asked to introduce the whole concept, or begin the process? For Crusty this is simply crucial and would fundamentally shape any liturgy plan. Let's hope the readers are OK with how students may incorporate their own interpretation of this aspect, since it is absent in the setup.
--COD is pleased that the musicians are "competent," but feels the need to note they are not the only factor that comes in with liturgical planning. He would have liked some element to the setup that mentioned how lay leadership was involved in worship planning, or whether these were congregations that looked to the priest to do all the planning. That's kind of assumed here, since it's not mentioned and you're the one asked to come up with a liturgy plan, including potentially picking hymns and service music, but it's not something COD necessarily thinks should be assumed about smaller congregations. Crusty served as interim in a different small congregation where the organist would never presume to let the pastor choose any hymns (not saying that's a good thing, mind you, but that was the context into which COD stepped).
--Crusty is always wary of being asked to describe how he would do things that are pretty vague, as he opined on in the liturgy question a few years back. Crusty in this case would always lean towards the specific -- spatial arrangements, he knows what that is -- rather than trying to parse the difference between an action and a non-verbal behavior. The last thing Crusty wants is for a reader to say, "The student described an action which is really a non-verbal behavior," when there's no standard for what is what. [A friend of COD was told by a GOE reader in a comment, "The person indicates very little awareness of youth ministry," when that person was working as a youth minister and the whole matters was only a small part of the answer. A GOE reader told Crusty he "Seems to show little understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy," when Crusty lived in Russia for six months and attended an Orthodox Church. This is not an unfounded concern, COD has major issues with the times, admittedly not common, that readers extrapolate from very small samples.] What's the difference between a non-verbal action and a non-verbal behavior? Rather than take the risk Crusty would stick with choosing spatial arrangements, please.
--Perhaps more importantly, there's not even lip service here in saying *how* any liturgical changes would be communicated to the congregations. Given the situation where he served as interim, COD made the conscious choice to move the altar one his own authority because of the particular context. However, all the other liturgical changes -- celebrating the Eucharist twice as often, introducing hymns and service music from the new ELCA worship book, to name two -- were done in consultation with lay leadership and musicians. Crusty knows there's a lot to be done in 1,000 words, but perhaps there could have been some trimming back on the liturgical plan (maybe only pick two instead of three things?) to allow for some mention of how this worship plan would be unveiled. "Liturgical planning and execution always need to build on a foundation of liturgical and sacramental theology," to be sure, but liturgical planning and execution also doesn't happen in a vacuum.
Overall, this question receives the "meh" ranking: while Crusty likes the way it incorporates liturgy as part of a broader conversation around congregational revitalization, there are some issues in the setup that prevent it from receiving the coveted "axios!" rating. Now don't get me wrong, intertubez: "Meh" is a good ranking! It means there's a lot that's good, just that a couple of things hold it back from receiving "Axios!" There will be no grade inflation on this blog, perhaps the last place in the
|I think you'd make a great Dread Pirate Crusty.|
Overall, COD continues to be pleased by the overall direction of #GOE2015. If I can't be in the revenge business, maybe I could become the Dread Pirate Crusty, like Inigo did.