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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Stop Making Things "Meaningful"

Man’s need for ceremony is universal. It cannot be quenched. All the churches that avoid “formal” and “traditional” worship engage in novel ceremonies that are more “meaningful” than the old, boring ceremonies. The only things, however, that need meaning injected into them are those things that were devoid of meaning not unlike fortifying marshmallows with vitamins. Rather than receive the Absolution from the pastor, these churches have the people write their sins on a piece of paper and throw it in a fire or nail it to a board or a log. The Absolution was instituted by God and has a promise but it feels fussy and can make some people feel uncomfortable. The act of getting rid of their own sins is an object lesson that is supposed to have more “meaning.” We could recount dozens of examples to make worship “meaningful” which, in the end, all confess that the liturgy, the Bible, and the Sacraments were devoid of meaning and needed a bit of meaning injected by men.

The following article runs in a similar vein but in a more general way. Felt banners and girl acolytes (altar girls in the context below) are indicators that for the liturgy to be “meaningful” everyone must actively and fully participate. Meaning isn’t found in the Word of God or Sacraments but by being personally involved and the best way to be involved is to engage in various kitschy folk art forms and pretend beauty is purely subjective. If only this were a problem unique to Roman Catholic Church: