You may notice that the website (bocjournal.org) is no longer. For financial reasons I thought it best not to renew the account. The website has not been very active and the purposes for it may also be accomplished here on this blog without the same expense. It is better to get the journal going and when there is some readership to consider again a website.
As the heir of the editorship of this journal I have been given to much reflection on this journal in recent years, on the liturgy and on the state of Lutheranism in general. Changes in recent years such as the previous editor, who contributed greatly, leaving Lutheranism for the Orthodox Church, and the publishing of the "final" issue speak volumes especially to those who were supporters up to that point.
In addition, another Lutheran liturgical journal, "Gottesdienst," has filled a niche with readers, providing much to support in these liturgically vacuous days. There is no doubt about it, the journal calls itself "The Journal of the Lutheran Liturgy." Having a German name also links it with the land of the Reformation.
Such a niche "The Bride of Christ" does not hope to compete with. First of all, this editor has the disadvantage of not being able to speak German. On the other hand, this gives "The Bride of Christ" an opportunity to address and uphold the catholicity of the historic liturgy in its relationship with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. "The Bride of Christ" is a Lutheran journal yet it has never shied from accepting the historic liturgy and in its catholicity and orthodoxy.
Admittedly, the state of Lutheranism today makes any discussion of liturgy and ecclesiology difficult. I have all but given up discussing liturgy online for this very reason even on the discussion list I began over ten years ago. Some suspect any discussion of liturgy as having an agenda of seeking unity where there is none. Granted, the "Liturgical Movement" of the 20th c. was also an ecumenical endeavor. Others have run away from the liturgy altogether and by doing so have also abandoned Lutheranism and any remnants that might have existed of historic Christian worship. They worship in the "here and now" (some without even leaving their houses!) and are becoming less and less tied to any ecclesiastical desires and concerns while becoming more and more tied with the entertainment industry and its networks. For some, the church is now the "community," a word being used in the names of many churches these days. Today we received a flyer in the church office from a para-church organization which included an endorsement from the "National Community Church." These are strange days indeed.
We must not retreat from any advances in our congregations. Are Lutherans learning to make the sign of the cross as Luther himself encouraged? Is there more attention in the congregations to more frequent offering and reception of the Holy Eucharist? Are people learning the meaning of the crucifix? Do the people know and appreciate the sacramental nature of the liturgy and its relation to Christ's Bride, the Church? What can we learn from why some of our pastors who have left and are leaving for the Catholic and Orthodox Churches? These and other questions remain.
These types of concerns are greater than any society or journal can fix or answer. In a sense, the nature of Lutheranism makes it unlikely that its weaknesses, which sometimes also double as its strengths, might be corrected. As one former Lutheran pastor said, the problem goes way down. This does not mean all is lost. "The Bride of Christ: The Journal of Lutheran Liturgical Renewal" is meant to continue as there is always need for renewal. As the journal states confidently in the masthead: "There is nothing [in our confession] that varies from the Scriptures, from the Church Catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers." Lutheran Liturgical Renewal, Inc., is dedicated to the production and distribution of materials that exhibit a catholic form of doctrine, liturgy, and ministry."
For now we will continue without a website. In the meantime the blog may see more use. Primarily, hope for renewal continues to be encouraged in our local congregations where the Eucharist is celebrated and Christ's Bride is mercifully fed in her faith toward God and love toward the neighbor.
Fr. Timothy May