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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 Twelve: Liturgical and Practical Theological Perspectives


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Liturgical and Practical Theological Perspectives


This study has largely been descriptive. I have sought to answer a question that may be situated within a sociology of religion or church context. The theories applied in the analysis largely come from the social sciences. However, the phenomenon investigated is not simply a sociological problem; it is also a practical theological problem. The theological features of the problem have to some extent been expressed in the analysis, most explicitly in the discourse on ecclesiology and liturgical development in Chapter 10. In this final chapter, I will highlight and comment on some of the findings from a liturgical and practical theological perspective. This will not be an extensive investigation of the theological issues raised, but the chapter serves to highlight the link between liturgical ethnography and liturgical theology.

The investigation in this chapter will, like the previous chapters in this study, be based on the relationship between traditions and the quest for relevance. More explicitly I will view the implied goal of “personal” and the identified orientation towards local expression of a broad church tradition in a theological perspective. In this regard, I maintain there are two perspectives that are particularly interesting to the cases in this study, i.e. a liturgical Lutheran and an evangelical free church perspective. The church worship tradition from which Revetal Menighet originates is a liturgical Lutheran tradition, whereas the prayer-house worship tradition Misjonssalen Aalesund from...

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