The May Issue of Worship

The May 2018 issue of Worship is out, and below is a summary of the contents. You can subscribe to Worship here.

AMEN CORNER:  The Mysteries of Liturgical Sincerity” by John D. Witvliet

Stephen R. Shaver, “A Eucharistic Origins Story. Part 1: The Breaking of the Loaf”
In this two-part essay I propose a way of telling the story of the origins of what would eventually become the normative ecumenical model for the Eucharist: a formal public liturgy involving the distribution of small symbolic portions of bread and wine identified as Christ’s body and blood and connected with his Last Supper. Like Hans Lietzmann in the last century, I see the Eucharist as a combination of the fellowship meals of the early church with the increasingly normative tradition of interpreting those meals in light of the Last Supper story. However, where Lietzmann identified two discrete “types,” I instead trace two phenomena which functioned something more like “memes,” circulating freely around the diverse meal scene of the early churches: the breaking and sharing of a single loaf of bread (and in some places sips from a common cup), and the identification of the elements with the body and blood of Christ. Each was both early and widespread, but neither was universally known or practiced, and they could circulate quite independently or interact with one another.

The first half of the essay examines the sharing of morsels from a single common loaf as an example of the flexible and improvisational activity Ronald Grimes calls “ritualization.” The second hypothetically reconstructs the circulation of the body and blood tradition, moving beyond a “trajectories” model to adopt the framework Larry Hurtado calls “interactive diversity.” Over time, as each of these two meal traditions became increasingly widespread, the intersection between them tended to facilitate the identification of the particular “token” portions shared from the common loaf or cup with the body and blood of Christ and, by about the third century, created a pathway for the development of a eucharistic rite outside the context of a full meal.

Henry L. Novello, “The Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Church: Reform through the Practice of Lament”
The Final Report of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concluded that there were “catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities.” This article contends that only if the church recovers the biblical practice of lament will true healing for survivors and effective reform of the church take place. Lament witnesses to the survivors’ struggle with God and our striving with God, as well as God’s suffering due to the sinfulness of his people.  The compassion that church authorities speak fails to uphold the divine pathos manifested in Jesus’ vicarious dying. Prayers of lament affirm the Christian life as a bearing in our bodies the pathos of God. We must be prepared to suffer “with” the survivors and their families, “because” of the sins of priests and religious, and “for” the offenders by bearing their sins. In this way hope is constantly reborn, yet the worship that accompanies lament does not come cheaply.

George Wilson, “Notes from an Unknown Disciple”
Chapter Two of the Epistle to the Philippians has long been recognized as a poem/song composed at an earlier time. This essay explores further implications arising from that fact.

Eileen D. Crowley, “Liturgical Media Art: Past, Present, and Future”
Projection of images in Christian worship is nothing new. As early as 1840, some Protestant ministers used the magic lantern to engage worshipers’ imaginations. Although projection and display technologies have become more sophisticated, more readily available, and less expensive in the 21st century, churches that include media projection typically still use it only as audio-visual communications support to increase their assembly’s participation — in singing and praying aloud, better comprehending sermons, joining ministries — or as staging. With relatively few exceptions, such as in Alternative Worship contexts, Protestant and Catholic churches have yet to explore ways of integrating still and moving images as liturgical art, specifically as media art for meditation and as projected or displayed environmental art. To move beyond current practices, pastoral leaders and worship teams can learn much from exploring the diverse practices of contemporary media artists and from inviting their media-skilled community members to participate in creating their own liturgical media art.

Michael Marchal, “Lessons from the Experience of Adult Initiation for the Confirmation of Teens”
Confirmation was left without its traditional rationale when First Communion was moved a century ago to age seven. And so various theologies, based usually upon adolescent psychologies, have tried to explain its meaning.

The experience of adult RCIA participants, though, parallels that of converts to Christianity in the first centuries especially in regard to the meaning of the sacramental sequence.

The first of two surveys of neophytes revealed both the complementarity of Baptism and Confirmation because both were the work of one Spirit and their difference because the first was a highly personal experience and the second was felt as bonding with the community.

The second survey, focused upon the experience of participating in several ways in the Eucharist, revealed the third sacrament as the climax of the series. The neophytes used the language of commitment, maturity and service about the Eucharist, not Confirmation.




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