Happiness Is…

…Listening to this sermon on Worship and History and then sitting down to lunch enveloped in the sound of Fernando Ortega’s new album. His simple rendering of the ancient Trisagion had chills down my spine.

I owe my undaunted allegiance to the Reformed and covenantal body of Christ as I find it in the conservative Presbyterian dominations of this country, this century, only to my unusual amount of theological training, thanks to the seminary I attended for several years, the tireless work of men like Fowler White, Rob Reymond, and my father, and the investment they made in me.

What I mean to say is, I am too convinced of this theology to be anything else. No thanks goes to the liturgical tradition we boast: a tradition marked by myopic self-obsession which could not but seep into the vacuum we blessed ourself with when we threw everything and everything out back in the 17th century.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand why the Puritans and Covenanters did what they did and during their time, for their battles, it was wisdom, courage, zeal, loyalty. I wish I had half the holiness and faith those guys had. But why are we still carrying the same banners they did? We don’t realize that our temptations are not what theirs were. But I digress.

As a worshiper, a plain-old-Jesus-loving-God-adoring Christian, I am in the wrong denomination. I am a Catholic. An Anglican. A Greek Orthodox. A LUTHERAN! There is nothing separating me from these brothers except my theology of soteriology and sacrament. I long to be shoulder to shoulder with them on That Great Day when sacrament is obsolete and soteriology a question of the past. Because these precious saints, they know how to worship.

My generation of serious Reformed, intellectual Christians is bleeding out. We are all leaving for the realness we find in the serious worship of our high-church, less-crabby-and-complacent brothers – the ones who still take thought to their connection to those dear brothers fifteen centuries ago who first sang “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy on us.” I’m not going with them. My conscience would never let me because to go would be to leave behind an understanding of God that I can’t do without. But why is it that our understanding of God isn’t informing our worship any better?

So here’s what I have to say to my Reformed, Presbyterian, boring, disinterested-at-best and crabby-at-worst brothers: Friends! Stop being pathetic and let’s get in on this party or we’re going to be the embarrassed ones when we get to heaven and someone else has to show us how it’s done.

And for the last time: The Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei (and most of the rest of ’em too!) are NOT Catholic! So stop saying that. They are the hymns our first brothers and sisters used to sing and you will not find better. If you want traditional worship that’s where you need to be looking. Traditional worship has nothing to do with four-part harmony, thick books, and straight backs so get over it.


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