Appearing below and edited for brevity are additional responses to the reader call regarding worship. More than 60 readers from 19 states responded:
As a lifelong Lutheran I've watched "traditional" liturgy change with each new hymnal and adapt itself to new generations. Each change has a beauty of its own and complements anthems, musical instruments, liturgical dance, bell choirs, dramas, etc. My worship experience is enhanced and blessed by these changes and varieties, but it depends upon a foundation of corporate confession and forgiveness, liturgy and prayer, hearing the word (in the reading and preaching of it) and the eucharist. These are the elements that, for me, define worship.
I yearn for worship that connects me with the church of every time and place. I love the tradition of our Roman Catholic heritage, but I am most satisfied with contemporary forms of that heritage that draw on today's musicians and artists as well as those of previous generations. Diversity is important to me. I hope for worship that gives me a glimpse of my place in a community made up of people of many cultures, colors and experiences.
As an African-American I'm sometimes told what I do in worship is not Lutheran. I think that being Lutheran is often confused with worshiping in a certain way. Being Lutheran is based on a certain theology, not on a style of worship. I love lifting my hands and praising the Lord for his goodness. I love calling out his name or shouting hallelujah for his grace. When I first came to my parish, one of the members secretly asked other people to ascertain if I was being Lutheran enough. Never mind that lives were being transformed and Christ was being preached. Yes, I do understand the liturgy as the work of the people. The people whose work it is should have the freedom of having their culture expressed through their worship. Worshipers should have the freedom to worship in a way that feeds their soul. Isn't it good for us that Jesus, too, was a tradition breaker?
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