My nephew was married in a traditional Catholic wedding this weekend. It was exquisite! I was struck by the formal tone of the ceremony but most decidedly, I was touched by the celebratory traditional charge given by their priest. I felt tears prick the corners of my eyes as he lovingly spoke to the young couple and advised them to love each other with abandon, to unselfishly give up themselves for the other. He ended this ceremony with a prayer of blessing over them and asked God to give them children as a reward of His faithfulness. There were no country music love songs. No one wrote cheesy vows that included promising
“to pick up your laundry” or “make me smile everyday”. Instead, these couples vowed not to each other but to the Father, to cherish, honor and love each other.
Why so serious? Maybe because half of all marriages end in divorce. Maybe because these two come from a long line of men and women that stuck it out on the days that they would have rather packed it up and moved on. Maybe because in a casual society it’s nice to witness a life altering moment like this with the air of formality it deserves.
What happened to high church? In a world that caters to the twenty something crowd, where no pastor worth listening to is over forty, skinny jeans and a goatee are basic requirements what happened to our tenants of the faith or our call to worship? Does anyone sing the doxology anymore? Have we all traded in our organs for Fender bass guitars? In our rush to be relevant have we sold out on the traditions of the past and in doing so have we lost the deep reverence that comes with knowing and reciting the Westminster catechism?
Before you brand me an outdated, old-fashioned relic of the 80’s Southern Baptist crowd, let me say that I love contemporary worship. I listened to “Sons and Daughters” on Pandora this morning on the way to work. I read my Scripture reading off my iphone. I am actively involved in missional living in which I attempt to use my gifts of service in everyday life to bring about changes in the lives of people I meet everyday. I understand that the church is not a place but a group of people who are obligated by the Holy Spirit to go and make disciples. Heck, I can down a cup of coffee while raising one hand in worship on a Saturday night worship set as well as you can.
I’m just asking, “whatever happened to high church?” Has the casual approach to God of low church brought back the millennials who left in droves a decade ago? Probably not. At least the millennials I know. They can see through the strategic hipness of churches named “The River” just like they balked at the legalistic rules of high church. Mark Driscoll, my favorite preacher, predicts that the next generation will return to high church with it’s formalities and traditions.
And while style of worship is not as important as the message, nothing replaces the beauty of responsive reading in a quiet sanctuary. Is there no longer a place for formality in the church? Is Scripture exegesis a lost art?
I hope not.
As for my beloved nephew and his beautiful wife, thanks for honoring the traditions of your family and your faith. I for one, was struck with the enormity of the vows you took and I echo the blessing of your priest, I am praying for lots and lots of babies!