word “worship,” which is clearly more common and acceptable among the various Protestant and Evangelical traditions that also make up our academy. My point? Unlike Societas Liturgica or the Society of Oriental Liturgy, we are perhaps not so much an academy of liturgy (and not even exclusively North American any longer, with Korean, Scandanavian, German, Austrian, Australian, and other members) as we are an academy that studies worship and ritual behavior in all their manifestations and, increasingly, within several diverse religious traditions. Now, this has implications for our corporate worship as an academy. If what I have said has any truth to it, then this makes it all the more remarkable that we can actually come together as an academy to do any kind of common worship at all. But we keep trying. Even so, let’s be clear on this. What might be called “official academy worship” consists of only three events each year: the opening rite on Thursday night, including the commemoration of departed members; the table prayer at the banquet; and the brief concluding and/or sending prayer at the end of Sunday’s breakfast meeting. All other worship events that might take place during our meeting constitute not “academy worship” organized by the Academy Committee, but worship services generously offered by particular groups to which the rest of us are graciously invited. They do not need our evaluation or critique but our thanks! Indeed, there was a time not that long ago that if any morning prayer was to be done, it was done within the seminars themselves. Further, while it has become a custom over the last several years to hold some kind of worship service on Friday night, often with the involvement of the president of the academy, if and when that happens, that also is not to be viewed as an official worship service of the Academy, any more than is Sabbath worship to which our Jewish colleagues have consistently and most kindly invited us over the years. But the fact that we feel the need to worship as an academy at all, I would submit, is due in no small part to the vision of CSL and the concomitant ecumenical liturgical spirit that originally shaped us. We know there is something right about remembering our deceased members at an opening act of worship; we know that some kind of Morning and/or Evening Prayer with songs, readings, psalmody, and intercession just makes sense; and that not to share in some kind of culminating meal celebration, sharing bread and wine in a ritual context of berakah, hodayah, and eucharistia, just wouldn’t be right somehow. And so, in spite of our great diversity, we try to worship as an academy if for no other reason than that “it is right and salutary so to do.”
Conclusion So where does this all leave us as we celebrate this fortieth anniversary of the Academy and the fiftieth anniversary of CSL? I think it leaves us right where it should, as an academy of liturgical scholars or scholars of diverse worshiping traditions. And we can be no more or other than what we are. But there is one thing we can together commit ourselves to within our common pursuit of wisdom and understanding, and that is the implications of our worship for justice in the world. For there is another fiftieth North American anniversary that we have commemorated and celebrated this year, namely, the great “I Have a Dream” Plenary Sessions 23
Published on Oct 8, 2014
Published on Oct 8, 2014
The North American Academy of Liturgy (NAAL) (http://www.naal-liturgy.org/) is an ecumenical and interreligious association of liturgical sc...