Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A excerpt from John Burwell:

"While I was in seminary, 'renewal' was the current buzzword used by all. 'Renewal parishes' were springing up all over the country, and we were told that the key to the future of the church lay in renewing congregations. We were also told that in order for renewal to happen, the traditional hymns needed to be replaced with praise music from guitars and pianos (keyboards were not yet mainstream) and above all, the staid, old, worn-our Rite One liturgy had to go. rite One was seen to bee too penitential. We were being told that no young person could ever identify with it.

"I didn't buy that. Just five years before seminary, I had rediscovered my Lord in the middle of a Rite One Eucharist, and I was 25 years old at the time. And a couple of years after that rediscovery, I heard my call to ordained ministry during a Rite One Morning Prayer service! Somehow, in spite of antiquated prayers with 'thees and thous' and in spite of an organ playing hymns -- somehow, God spoke to me anyway. I wondered -- could the people pushing renewal be missing the mark, at least a little? I began to attend renewal churches, to analyse what they had that the un-renewed parishes didn't. I came to the conclusion that it wasn't simply modern music or contemporary language. There was a sense of joy and a sense of belonging -- a feeling of community and a sense of purpose. In these renewed parishes, worship seemed to be fun -- and there was a feeling that the people wanted to share the joy they had with others. It seemed to me that the rite being used or the music being sung was of a secondary importance.

"So why did everyone insist on Rite Two with 'renewal' music? I theorized the insistence was circumstantial. After a person got 'turned on' they identified with the rite and the setting in which their renewal first occured. Since they got their 'happy feeling' in a Rite Two setting with guitars and praise music, and since they didn't have that feeling back when they went back to a church with rite one and organ hymns, they assumed it was the style of worship. And since being around non-renewed, joy-less people robbed them of their warm fuzzy feeling, they cam to believe that renewal could only occur in a contemporary setting.

"While still in seminary I heard a call from the Lord to renew a traditional parish. I felt called to take the joy and sense of community (i.e., low-church sensibilities) and apply it in a traditional setting. It seemed to me that God was calling me to renew, and to do it using Rite One and traditional surroundings. My fellow classmates thought I was crazy. They said I wasn't being realistic, and all I would be doing is tying God's hands. They said it would never work. Church of the Holy Cross provided me with the opportunity to test that call from the Lord. They were wrong. It worked."

Saturday, July 08, 2006