The same, but not quite the same

I happened to get the comment the one day that we always did the same service on Sunday morning.  I promptly corrected them that we were in fact in a rotation between LSB Setting 1 and 3 that corresponded with the seasons of the Church Year, and thereby were protected against doing the same thing for so long that people got bored with it.  They were not impressed, and politely asked that we occasionally do something different.

Two things struck me as odd about this conversation.  The first was that someone
would not like doing the same services over and over.  Personally, I like the order and structure of doing the same services repeatedly.  I like knowing what is coming up next, and knowing that I could show up to church at any time and with no troubles at all, be able to lead the full service without the slightest mix up.

In fact, one of the greatest joys I get is looking out on the congregation during the service and seeing members, both young and old, singing the liturgy, without the use of the hymnal.  They do not have the service memorized because it was required homework, but because they have been in worship on a regular basis and know the service like the back of their hand, and can sing whole parts of it on demand.  And I think that is a very good thing.

The other thing that struck me as odd was that I did not think we did the same thing every Sunday.  Sure we used the same two services in rotation, but even when we do the
same service for an entire month, or more; it still does not feel like the same service.

The hymns are always different; the readings are always different; the collect and introit are always different; the sermon is always different.

Every Sunday is different from the one that came before it.  Every Sunday has its own
individual theme that flows throughout the collect and introit into the readings and sermon and through the hymns.  The Church is protected against any and all charges by those who say we do the same thing every Sunday because the truth is, we do not.

Easter Sunday does not sound anything like the Third Sunday in Advent or the Fourth Sunday in Lent or the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.  Each of these Sunday’s has
its own theme which flows through the service, which would sound completely foreign if it were transposed onto another Sunday in the Church year.

Now I should not say that nothing is ever the same Sunday to Sunday; for there is one thing that always remains the same no matter what day it is: the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sin, always comes through.  And one
would certainly never want to change that.

So do we do the same thing every Sunday?  We might use the same liturgy every Sunday
for stretches of time; but to say that we did the exact same thing, would be wrong.  We sing different hymns, hear different readings, listen to a different sermon, we even pray different prayers; every Sunday is something different.  But we always hear the same Gospel message that Christ lived, died and rose for the forgiveness of our sins.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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