By Paul Koch

The other day, The Jagged Word received an email from our most persistent and longsuffering commenter, the one and only John J. Flanagan. He doesn’t always agree with what we write here. Hell, we don’t all agree with each other, but he has always been willing to be part of the conversation, and for that we are very thankful. For in many ways, that is the goal of our relatively agenda-free blog—to have conversations that matter.

By Cindy Koch

What if liturgy isn’t enough? I know that’s the argument that well-meaning, smart theologians will give you. You know how it goes: If the preaching is bad or if the particular pastor’s teaching is less Christ-centered than you’ve understood the Bible to teach, if you at least have the liturgy, you’re safe. If the church is a mess and the people are all over the place with understandings, if you at least have the liturgy, you’ll be OK. The liturgy, a weekly confession of the true faith, built on and sustained by the faithful church for generations upon generations of Christians. A liturgy that preserves the pattern of right confession and pure Gospel proclamation, all bound up in a handy-dandy book, literally at your fingertips every Sunday.

By Joel A. Hess

Christians routinely use the word “mystery” when explaining the faith. Often times when a believer is stuck in explaining a teaching, she is quick to conclude, “Well, it’s a mystery.” The Orthodox really love this word. It often times seems impossible to even discuss with them their understanding of things as they repeat “It’s a mystery” to every request of explanation. And of course, there is the condescending “The East isn’t concerned about systematic explanations like you westerners.” They sound like Apple users snubbing their noses to PC users. Of course, it was my “eastern” friend from Indiana who told me this.

By Hillary Asbury

Whether or not we realize it, the visual arts are being used by churches every day. If you were to walk into a Christian church of any sort, there would more than likely be a cross hanging somewhere, if not at the focal point of the worship space. That cross is the result of an artist’s craft. From hand-hammered brass to ceramic pieces created on a wheel, many of the communion chalices we encounter are beautiful works of art. These are vital pieces of the church’s function, of the Divine Service, and they are more often than not created to be visually pleasing, with rich meaning and symbolism. Altars and even pews are crafted with care and creativity. Banners fly proudly with symbols appropriate to the church season. Visual aids grace bulletin covers, PowerPoint presentations, and projections. Church logos are created by graphic design. The visual arts are already important to the Christian life, but perhaps we’ve been using this art passively.

By Joel A. Hess

Looking for Luther to back you up on how worship should be done? Have fun, something for everyone! To sum his thoughts up, I would say he was against keeping things the same for the sake of keeping things the same. Yet equally concerned about people who wanted to change abruptly just because they can. I can’t help but believe he would be surprised to find some church services as infotainment and others looking not too different than Rome.