I sometimes describe myself as the world’s only Latin-Rite Presbyterian. That’s my way of saying that I’m very liturgically conservative. It’s not because I think that, say, the KJV was divinely inspired in ways other scriptural translations aren’t (although it is the version I’m most likely to read and consult), and I understand that updating the language of the Apostles’ Creed may make it clearer to a wider audience, and if they understand “the living and the dead” better than “the quick and the dead,” well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? And if a more relaxed “contemporary worship” draws more people to God than the traditional service, that’s the point, isn’t it?
Well, yes, it is, and I try to help, even drumming for the praise band at the occasional service, but I still can’t help feeling that we lose something in the change. One of the things I love about the traditional services at the churches I’ve attended is the fact that they are in fact traditional. When I engage in the elements of worship that have remained stable for generations, I’m reminded of those generations and Sundays long past my reach, but always part of the Now that is the eternal God, and I feel connected not only to God (which is, after all, the point), but to the family I’ve known and the family I never knew but hope to know one day. I want to share the rituals they shared, in addition to the love of God.
Remembrance is important to me, as I think it should be to all Christians — after all, one of our sacraments is done because Jesus asked us to remember Him. That connection to the past and to tradition is something I admire about my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. I don’t agree with every place it’s taken them, and I believe Scripture supersedes it, but I think the tradition of their liturgy serves as a reminder of their connection to the eternal Body of Christ even as it is being practiced.
I don’t claim to be anyone’s best example of a Christian, but I love the traditional liturgy because it links me both to God and to His saints who have cleared a path for me. It warrants conserving.