Liturgical Reform: Top Down? Bottom Up?

Lutheran theologian Eugene Brand wrote about liturgical reform in 1976 in words which have lost little of their timeliness. Discuss among yourselves.

Effective change in the Church comes in an all-pervasive manner. It doesn’t come from the top down (a former fallacy), nor from the bottom up (the present “grass roots” fallacy). Effective change comes from both directions at once. It comes in response to a climate of need perceived. Its articulation may come from the top down, but that articulation requires a climate of need to make it effective.

Where they have met the needs people have about identity – and thus about community and their relationship to God – the ecumenical and liturgical movements have made a significant impact. Where they have gotten sidetracked or gone beyond where the majority of people feel their need, they have become the plaything of the afficianados.

–Eugene L. Brand, “Baptism and Communion of Infants: A Lutheran View,” Worship 50 (1976), reprinted in Max Johnson, ed., Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1995), 350-364, here 350-351.

One comment

  1. Eugene Brand – a great man (and a member of ICET, for those who didn’t know). It is good to acknowledge his contribution to liturgical convergence.

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