Friday, March 5, 2010

Stromateis Liturgica for 5 March 2010

'Stromata' or 'Stromateis' is a Greek term meaning 'miscellaneous thoughts'. One of the more famous uses of this term is found in the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria. I do not claim to be as original or perceptive a theologian as Clement, but I have decided to begin to offer, I hope on a weekly basis at least, some 'stromata' in various areas.

This week's Stromateis is a liturgical one, providing some comments from my recent reading of the journal, Liturgy, the official publication of the Liturgical Conference, an ecumenical community of liturgists (visit

In Issue 4 of Volume 22 (2007) the Conference focuses on 'Assisting Ministers: Not Preaching and Presiding Alone'. As is the case for all such collections, I found that some essays were more helpful than others. Let me briefly cite and describe the ones that I found most helpful for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.

David Arcus, "Cantors Reconsidered": Arcus reminds us of the importance of trained liturgical leadership in ensuring the quality and depth of the community's song and music.

Marianne Engelmann and Jane Cors Smith, "Re-Member Me: The Roots and Ramifications of Assisting with Holy Communion": These two Roman Catholic writers remind us that assisting in the distribution of communion, whether in the public assembly or in private, is not a function but a ministry of presence. They offer some excellent suggestions regarding the qualities necessary for the exercise of this ministry.

Clayton J. Schmit, "The Living Word: Restoring Life to Scripture Reading in Worship": Schmit provides an excellent guide to the ministry of reading. This is a helpful guide to anyone who trains readers.

Rosalie Bent Branigan, "Movement and Dance in Ministry and Worship": For those of us who are wary of dance and movement, Branigan offers a welcome theological and pastoral reflection on the role of movement and dance.

Jessie Schut, "Children Can Assist, Too!": This is a short piece that offers some good observations on the role of children in public worship.

Patricia H. Archer, "Assisting in Worship: A Holy Privilege": Archer writes from her perspective as a deacon in the United Methodist Church in the United States. While some of her observations may not be applicable in other traditions, it is a short and thoughtful reflection on assisting in worship.

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