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Book Review: The Pastor: A Spirituality--by Maria Grace, Ph.D.

Book Review: The Pastor: A Spirituality--by Maria Grace, Ph.D.

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Published by maria7093
This is a book review of Gordon Lathrop's book: "Pastor: A Spirituality". Very interesting writing and liturgical theology.
This is a book review of Gordon Lathrop's book: "Pastor: A Spirituality". Very interesting writing and liturgical theology.

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Published by: maria7093 on Jan 04, 2010
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12/11/2012

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Maria Grace Reflection PaperGordon Lathrop: “The Pastor: A Spirituality”
1
1.
 
 Why did I choose this book?
 I read
The Pastor 
for the first time during my firstsemester in seminary. I had just begun my Field Ed experience ina Lutheran church. Coming from a Greek Orthodox background, I was very interested in making a transition into the Lutheranspirituality and worship. Many aspects of the liturgical
ordo 
  were different from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. Reading
The Pastor 
introduced me then to the language of Lutheranspirituality and liturgy. It also gave me a way to understandthe pastor whom I assisted in my field ed church.When that book appeared on the list of this course, I readit again. This semester I have also taken two more courses onLutheran theology,
Confessions
and
Luther’s Spirituality.
  Additionally, I am taking a course in Lutheran Liturgy, in whichI read other books by the same author. I find his writing veryinteresting and his ideas essentially Lutheran. I also like his meditative style of writing. I wanted to read
The Pastor 
again,to see how it would affect me, in light of all the courses Ihave been taking. Re-reading
The Pastor 
this semester was a muchricher experience than the first time I read it. I had a betterappreciation of the the author’s language, a much deeperunderstanding of his ideas, and better receptivity to hisintended message. I believe
The Pastor 
is a book that any
 
Maria Grace Reflection PaperGordon Lathrop: “The Pastor: A Spirituality”
2
pastor-in-formation must read again and again, as each time itreveals new layers about the life of the pastor as a symbol andas a person/servant of Christ. Also,
The Pastor 
is a book that must be read in small parts, something like
Lectio Divina.
Theauthor’s style begs for such reading, which is then bothpleasurable and illuminating.
2.
 
 What positions of worship are described by the author?
Gordon Lathrop is a Lutheran pastor and professor ofliturgical theology. He is also the author of a number of bookson Lutheran liturgy, symbology, worship and faith. In
The Pastor 
he describes the pastor as the servant of the Lord’s Supper.Referring to the pastor as “the waiter“, he describes thepastoral role and call as being firmly grounded in liturgy. Forthe author, the liturgy is centered around the central symbolsor word and sacrament, which must be broken in order for thelove of God to be poured through them onto the assembly. Theliturgy follows an
ordo 
that consists of four parts: gathering, word, meal, and sending. A liturgy that does not follow this
ordo 
is not, according to the author, a complete worship(Lutheran) service.Worship, for Gordon Lathrop, is centripetal. The center isChrist in the symbols of bread, wine, water and the word. Thepastor is there to break those symbols for the assembly. The
 
Maria Grace Reflection PaperGordon Lathrop: “The Pastor: A Spirituality”
3
pastor—whom the author also describes as a broken symbol—setsthe table, serves the Supper, preaches the Word, baptizes with water and Word, and prays with the assembly. The position of theauthor is that the pastor becomes transparent and uninteresting,in order to serve Christ and be for Christ, before the assembly.Everything the pastor does—including his/her body langugage— during worship serves Christ, worships Christ, praises Christand brings Christ to people. The pastor’s servanthood is thepastor’s identity during worship, which brings the assemblybefore Christ. The author is clear about the worship being
not
about people, personalities, and preferences, but about Christ.
3.
 
Do I agree or disagree with the author?
My roots are in Eastern Orthodoxy, which respects andobserves the same liturgical
ordo 
for 2,000 years. I, therefore,am familiar—and comfortable—with worship in which the pastor’spersonality disappears in order to serve God. Additionally,throughout my life, I have also attended services in churches of many different denominations, in many parts of the world, andhave observed a number of pastors, priests and ministers inaction. Even before I read Lathrop’s books on centripetal worship, I was already aware—and weary—of the worship that iscentered on the pastor’s personality or on the preferences ofthe assembly. Over the years I listened a number of sermons that

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