People tend to love liturgical worship for different reasons. Some love the pageantry and patterns, while others love what it can do. Some are geometry buffs, while the others are fighters. Some are aesthetes, while the others are warriors.
So in what I am about to say, let me say that I am not against taking the glittering sword of right worship from the scabbard and fighting with it. That is what we are all about. This is what we are seeking to do in our worship at Christ Church, and we are seeking to do it with formal, liturgical worship. We believe this is one of our assigned weapons, and we are engaged in learning how to use it.
That’s all to the good, and nothing said here represents a rejection of liturgical worship as such. I would much rather fight with the biblically assigned sword and buckler than with a makeshift broom handle and garbage can lid. But with that said, I would rather fight alongside a man with a broom handle than to share the mere fact of sword possession with a man who spends all his time at home polishing it. And reading books on the best polishing tools available.
Let me change the metaphor. There is a way of falling in love with an elegant play, the way the coach drew it out on the whiteboard, with all the x’s and o’s doing just what they need to do in order to enable the coach to draw an arrow toward the end zone. And people who love this also love the walk-throughs in practice. “Look at the elegant way the guard pulls, runs left and takes out the blitzing linebacker. In slow motion.”
The problem is that in a real game, the value of the play when run full tilt in real time looks quite a bit different than it did when we all had the leisure to think things through. It is easier to see the reason for everything during the walk-throughs. The only problem is that it is not the game.
The Prussian general von Moltke once said that “no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” And this is probably why Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
We often talk about the worship wars, but these are just quarrels over strategy between coaches in practice. The real worship war is the war that right worship declares — on the devil and all his works. So we should be supportive of every form of Christian worship that engages the enemy effectively. If it does that, we might want to tinker with it to make it more effective, but we would be doing this with a general disposition of support. If it does not do that, it is worthless — no matter how good it is.