On the multiplicity of Divine Services

Okay, we all know there is only one Divine Service. And, no, it’s not page 15. The one and only Divine Service is when Jesus gathers us to Himself to preach and teach on the kingdom of heaven, feeding us the Bread of Life and sustaining us in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life and salvation.
When we gather, then, on the Lord’s Day, we receive from Him; He is serving us because He is the greatest among us. The form of the Divine Service, the incarnation of it is the reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and giving thanks to God by caring for the poor (the tithes and offerings) and by receiving His body and blood as His promise to His people of eternal life.
The Introit, Kyrie, Gloria, et. al., comes from history and tradition. We all know this. But coming from history and tradition does not make it useless or irrelevant. There are reasons these things became the incarnation of the Divine Service. The confess the life of Jesus as the Anointed One of God who saves His people from their sins. So we enter His presence with psalms, we praise Him by seeking good from Him alone (Kyrie), and we sing with angels and archangels the song of heaven (Gloria and Sanctus). Therefore these things should not easily or without great concern be gotten rid of. They’re not adiaphora in the sense that they are indifferent. They are not indifferent. They confess the faith and have done so for a couple of thousand generations.
So when we speak of different Divine Services, we are really speaking of different incarnations of THE Divine Service. This is not wholly bad. Christ was born a baby then “changed” into a boy then “changed” into a man, but it was still the same Christ. So also, the multiplicities of forms of the Divine Service are not in themselves bad. But that doesn’t mean we should just switch willy nilly.
We must take into account history and tradition. To refuse to take these into account is to dismiss thousands of years of the Church’s expression of the faith, or at least our congregation’s historic expression of the faith passed down from generation to generation.
Of course, the form does change. Not just the propers, but the ordinaries as well. The three-fold Kyrie may become the nine-fold at Christmas and Easter, etc.
It seems to me the danger in “switching services” is the idea that each service somehow stands alone. They don’t. Pastors should not just switch from Divine Service One (LSB), say, to DS3 (LSB). Maybe the Offertory can change (which has historic testimony), or maybe the Kyrie can change. But the Kyrie is still there. The Offertory is still there. Maybe even the Nunc Dimittis can change since it too was not always an ordinary but a proper, and that for the choir!
My point is, a congregation should have one expression or form that she uses, that the people become familiar with and take to heart, that can be (at least mostly) done from memory, that we can pass on to our children. But that should not keep us from using the great treasury of the Church in matching the form of the Divine Service to the substance, which is Christ.

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