Friday, July 19, 2013

The journey goes on and on...

In 1985, Word Publishers offered a new book called Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail by Robert Webber, a professor of theology at Wheaton College, Illinois. The subtitle is "Why Evangelicals Are Attracted to the Liturgical Church," and Webber, who had been watching his own, his students’, friends’, families’ experiences with worship, began with his story of changes. This was followed by six stories from other evangelicals who found themselves no longer comfortable in whatever church or denomination or worship experience they were in, and who were eager to learn more. Looking for liturgy as the early church practiced it, was a challenge and these particular evangelicals were each drawn into the Episcopal Church in the 1980s.
Webber pointed out that there were many other churches looking for and using these early liturgies that contain the Scriptures, the Creeds, early prayers and the use of God’s gifts to his people: the sacraments. Today, five years after Webber’s death, one may find the use of these liturgies among Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Orthodox, Roman Catholics, independent churches and others—not just Episcopalians. Editor Lester Ruth, who is an ordained Methodist pastor and research professor of Christian worship at Duke Divinity School, as well as worship history teacher at Webber’s Instititue for Worship Studies, reminds us that it was often an article or book by Webber that "opened believers to the possibility that paying careful attention to history’s treasures is a valid path toward faithfulness and renewal in worship."
Webber’s book is " testimony to his own journey" writes Ruth in this revised edition as he offers Webber’s ideas as a guide for those looking for help with their spiritual journeys. This time it is published with Morehouse Press, and
with Webber’s preface and introduction as well as his first six chapters. Then, a new group of six describe their recent pilgrimages. The book concludes with brief chapters by four friends of Webber’s who were there, and who assess his contributions and influences on the church as it is today.
—Lois Sibley