I know that there’s at least one Lutheran on this board, so maybe you can shed some light on a particular subject. What are the services in the “high-church” wing of Lutheranism like? Do they include the sign of the cross? Are they pretty common among Lutheran churches, or are they relatively rare these days?
The reason I ask is that I found an interesting paper from Rolf Preus, a conservative Missouri Synod pastor. Here’s a selection:
"I don’t think that I overstate matters when I say that the worship wars in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod have resulted in greater bitterness and frustration during the past two decades than did the controversy over biblical inerrancy of the previous two decades. What happens on a Sunday morning in their own congregation matters more to people than what theologians in a distant city are arguing about. People expect that when they go to church certain things will happen. Certain words will be said. Certain actions will be followed. I am talking about such things as confession and absolution, singing the Kyrie followed by the Gloria in Excelsis, listening to the lessons, and confessing the Creed. This is what has happened and this is what folks expect to happen. Hymns will be sung. A man wearing a robe and standing in a Pulpit will preach a sermon based on a text from the Bible. You will sing the familiar psalms and canticles of the church, pray the Lord’s Prayer, kneel at the Lord’s Altar and eat and drink Christ’s body and blood. You will not leave before hearing the words of the Aaronic Benediction that leave you will the assurance that the God who just served you with his holy word and sacrament now gives you his peace. What takes place on Sunday morning will make you feel at home because what takes place will put you where you have met God in the past and have come to know him. You have talked to God and heard him talk to you. This is what you are looking for. This is why you go to church.
“And now you go to church and everything is different. You go expecting to find something that is no longer there. Perhaps it’s the singing of the Kyrie. Or maybe the Creed is replaced by a homemade version of it that isn’t really very good. Instead of a sermon, there is a kind of chancel drama. The familiar canticles are gone. The Lutheran chorales have given way to shallow and repetitious “praise” songs. The Benediction is replaced by a rather lengthy exhortation to be whatever kind of Christian is in vogue for the season. You don’t want to criticize. You wonder if your expectations were a bit unreasonable. After all, there must be many different ways of worshipping God. The Bible doesn’t actually set down for the church of the New Testament detailed instructions on what to do on a Sunday morning. And if such instructions aren’t laid down in the Scriptures and if the Scriptures alone are to be for us the norm and judge of all doctrine and practice in the church, why should you complain if you must endure change? Perhaps you’re just being old fashioned. Still, you have the definite sense that something important is gone and you want it back. Church is no longer home.”
Any thoughts from the Lutherans out there?