"Out High-Massing the Episcopalians"


The musings of a Lutheran seminarian at General Seminary and a reflection of Episcopal/Lutheran relations.

An interesting article.

I am very confused by the article. Maybe if I would have been there, I would understand the point. Since the Lutheran liturgy is very similar to the liturgy found in the Book of Common Prayer, and the ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in full communion with each other, I don’t understand the sentiment behind the thought that celebrating the Lutheran liturgy at an Episcopal seminary felt out of place (leading to the author’s unfortunate implication that the service felt like a “show” instead of worship). I’ve been to several Episcopal worship services, and always felt at home (as long as the celebrant sticks to the rubrics instead of doing some of the wacky things some Episcopalians do these days).

Also, as a side note, the author is uncomfortable with the word “mass” to describe Lutheran worship. However, the Confessions state: “we do not abolish the Mass but religiously keep and defend it” (Augsburg Confession Article 24). Moreover, Luther’s two primary orders of worship were called the “Formula Missae” and the “Deutsche Messe”, indicating an obvious willingness to retain the term.

I can’t speak for the seminarian but came away with the impression that worship at this Episcopal seminary is fine but that the ELCA Bishop of New York celebrated a Lutheran Mass that was enjoyed by all. There are differences between the Book of Common Prayer and the Lutheran Liturgy [chants tones, hymns, emphasis on ‘Law & Gospel’ preaching, etc.]. As far as the seminarian feeling a little uncomfortable with calling Holy Communion the Mass, that is merely what a person happens to be accustom to. My own parish refers to the Eucharist as Mass but some Lutherans react that it is “too catholic” to use the ancient term for the Sacrament even though it is clearly what the Lutheran confessors used.

I thought the article was amusing in that it pointed out how a Lutheran in an Episcopal seminary got to pray the Lutheran liturgy for a change.

I guess it all depends on how “Catholic” or “Reformed” a parish is as to what they call certain things. At my Episcopal parish, many of the older folks there are more Protestant minded than the younger crowd. They are slowly becoming more and more Anglo-Catholic. Service is becoming Mass. lol

The parallels between Episcopalians and Lutherans are quite apparent. The bishops promote stronger ‘Catholic’ recovery for the most part. Some parishioners react negatively until they fully understand that the Church is reclaiming its Catholic heritage.

At my Episcopal parish, the former pastor was a Methodist. He pretty much made it a “low church” parish. We were blessed to have a very “high church” priest take over about 5 years ago. The change has been very slow and that is probably a good thing. Many of the members of the parish are former Roman Catholics and LCMS so they are ok with the high church feel and tradition. Since the ELCA and the Episcopal Church are in communion with one another, they share pastors/priest. That is an issue with some of the more high church Episcopalians lol.

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