The death of American Christianity will not come from the hands of Caesar or secular culture. It will not be destroyed by White House legislation or Hollywood depictions of premarital sex.
The death of American Christianity will come from the hands of neat ideas.
Neat Ideas: Practices which are introduced into the Divine Service not because they will aid Christians in hearing and understanding the Gospel, but because they just seem so neat, so sweet, so special and cuddly.
And slowly but mercilessly, neat ideas will destroy American Christianity. One minute or two at a time, they will take the focus off of Christ Crucified and put in onto ourselves, our own talents and kindness, our own warmth and loveliness. Increasingly throughout the weeks and months and years, neat ideas will huddle Christians together and put upon their lips a hymn that praises not the God who has redeemed them in the blood of Jesus but to the god of themselves, the god who is nothing more than a fat, steaming pile of self-appreciation.
- Children’s Church
- Youth Sunday
- LWML Sunday
- Puppet Ministries
- Lay Readers
- Polka Mass
- Folk Mass
- Metal Mass
- Clown Mass
- U2 Mass
- Dr. Seuss Mass
- Rewriting the Liturgy
- Rewriting the Creeds
- Singing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas
And, of course,
- Liturgical Dance.
I like dance. And I don’t see any reason why it can’t be paired with very good theology the way that music and painting have been. So if the Chicago Ballet were putting on a show centered on the Passion tomorrow, I’d totally buy my tickets today.
But let’s be honest. Never in the history of forever has anyone ever said, “you know, I think I’d have an easier time hearing and understanding the liturgy, the scriptures, the sermon, if these things were accompanied by girls in leotards twirling around the altar.” The only reason liturgical dancers were ever introduced into the worship service was because Betty’s niece took ballet for 7 years and if we could find some way to use that in church, well, that would be really neat.
The death of American Christianity will not come from executive orders or gay themed sitcoms. But it will come when Christ’s only role in our worship will be, from his painted picture in the sanctuary, to gaze upon us with approving European blue eyes as we gather together to worship ourselves for being so skilled, so warm, so snuggly, and so doggone neat.
~Rev. Hans Fiene