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Old Paths and New Ways

Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy


Robert Lilleaasen

The relationship between tradition and relevance is a core feature in religious practice in general and public worship in particular. On the one hand, worship is a bearer of religious traditions, i.e. traditions are maintained in the practice of public worship, and the worship enables individuals to connect with these traditions. On the other hand, it is a quest for relevance in public worship. In order to maintain existing worshippers and attract new participants, congregations have to consider their ability to connect their core values to the needs and expectations of existing and potential participants. This dual purpose of the worship causes a need for negotiation, and it is this negotiation between tradition and relevance that this book investigates. Old Paths and New Ways is a case study of the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance in liturgy.

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Chapter Ten: Reshaping a Tradition


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Reshaping a Tradition


In accordance with the concluding part of the methodology outlined above, this chapter will investigate the material in an ecclesiological (church-historical) perspective. The subject of this chapter will be a return to the “church” and “prayer-house” worship traditions from which the two cases originate: Misjonssalen Aalesund from a prayer-house worship tradition, and Revetal Menighet from a church worship tradition. After a preliminary outline of the main characteristics of the two cases of worship tradition the main discourse will focus on changes, the inequalities between the worship traditions and present worship practice, and what kind of worship practice the changes suggest. This way the discourse will be in contact with the hypothesis of the “movement of equalization” suggested in chapter 1, a hypothesis that raises the questions “what causes this movement of equalization?” and “what is the result of the change?.”

10.1  Main Characteristics of Church and Prayer-House Worship Traditions

The relationship between church and prayer-house in a Norwegian ecclesial context has been described as an elliptical model. Harald Hegstad (1999, 75) connects this model to two parallel structures characterized by the collaboration between ← 259 | 260 → the “official” and the “voluntary.” In a similar manner as the geometrical figure of an ellipse there are two focal points in the ecclesial context, argues Hegstad, one is based on legislation and the state apparatus whereas the other is a result of voluntary initiative. In...

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