As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Proctoring and Liturgy

I'm preparing to administer the EOC field test to my class next week. I've administered one other test this year. The students all make fun of teachers when they proctor because they sound so robotic and precise. But, of course, that's exactly what we're supposed to sound like.

As I was administering the last test, I began to think of similar problems that people not used to liturgy have with the ceremonialism and ritual contained therin. All of a sudden, I understood it. The most "dynamic" churches today are dependent on dynamic pastors, speakers, worship leaders, etc. These people construct worship services and sermons with meaning and which involve and challenge the laity. But that's not really the way it's supposed to be. It's not a show and it's not a motivational speech.

The best preists are those that empty themselves of themselves and do the work of the Church. In the same way, when I proctor a test, I'm not there to be fun. I'm there as a representative of the school system, not to project my wittiness and creativity into the test taking process, but to be as formulaic as possible. Granted, worship is not a test. But neither is it a show. It is us, not focusing on ourselves, but on God. To do this, we don't need something directed to us and our particular tastes, but which empties us of ourselves so that God can move.

The priest is not being himself either. He is being Christ, representing us to God and God to us and, therefore, a certain amount of ceremony and ritual is needed.


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