As a sequel to my last post, concerning the visit of the Holy Madness Clown Troupe to a local ELCA "Lutheran" congregation, here is what the troupe is all about in their own words. You may especially be interested in their pictures.
And while this is primarily an ELCA group, they cater to Christians outside of their communion, including at least one LCMS congregation.
Now, think about what we Lutherans confess in the Book of Concord - to which we are bound (and just for kicks, look at the picture above before and after each quote):
"[T]he Mass is retained among us and is celebrated with the greatest reverence. Almost all the customary ceremonies are also retained." (emphasis added) AC 24:1-2 (Latin text)
"Since, therefore, no novelty has been introduced which did not exist in the church from ancient times, and since no conspicuous change has been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass except that other unnecessary Masses which were held in addition to the parochial Mass, probably through abuse, have been discontinued, this manner of holding Mass ought not in fairness be condemned as heretical or unchristian." (emphasis added) AC 24:40 (German text)
"[N]othing has been received among us , in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic." (emphasis added) AC Conclusion 5 (Latin text)
"We further believe, teach, and confess that the community of God in every place and at every time has the right, authority, and power to change, to reduce, or to increase ceremonies according to its circumstances, as long as it does so without frivolity and offense, but in an orderly and appropriate way, as at any time may seem to be most profitable, beneficial, and salutary for good order, Christian discipline, evangelical decorum, and edification of the church." (emphasis added) FC SD 10:9
I'm sure there are plenty of other quotes from the Concordia Pia that I'm missing, but I think these suffice (these quotes are from the Tappert edition, since this happens to be what I have at home at this time).
This shift from traditional, ancient, christocentric, and reverent worship to experimental, novel, anthropocentric, and entertainment-based worship may well be part of what is driving some of our pastors and churches away from the LCMS. Granted, very few have left, but enough have so as to raise eyebrows. Instead of "circling the wagons" and spewing venom upon pastors, laymen, and congregations who leave our synod, and perhaps even our Lutheran confession entirely, maybe we should take a good, hard, brutally honest look at what is going on in our sanctuaries. There is a terrible discrepancy between what we confess in our confessions and what we confess with our lived-out practice. I don't believe our enemy is any other communion within the church catholic - especially those jurisdictions which are part of the ancient and historic Christian Church - rather our worst enemy is our own communion, our own failure to bring to life what we confess on paper in the actual lives of our congregations and synod.
Most of our congregations don't have clowns on Sundays, but what percentage now have "contemporary" and "blended" services? What percentage of our congregations now use some form of pop music in their services? What percentage of our churches now have at least one non-liturgical service? What percentage of our congregations would dare put the above quotes from the Book of Concord in their bulletins?
But before you get completely depressed, please have a look at this article about the Latin Mass now offered for Roman Catholics in Arlington, Virginia. There is much to be hopeful about - especially given the remarks of some of the faithful in this article.
It is sometimes said that when the pope gets a cold, the Missouri Synod sneezes. In spite of our often nasty polemics against the pope, we do tend to mimic much of modern Roman Catholic liturgy in our parishes: the three-year lectionary, lay readers, female acolytes, etc. Perhaps this trend toward renewal of Christ-centered, traditional, and reverent worship will continue in the papal nasal passages, then we will soon have a healthy sneeze in the LCMS. I, for one, would reply with a hearty "bless you!"