[Disclaimer: The primaries are approaching but the post title and this post have nothing to do with current secular political issues.]
It is not surprising to hear "conservative" Lutheran pastors defend the liturgy. The use of hymnals, the services contained therein and hymnody are supported against efforts to make the liturgy something minimal or make it entertaining.
An eye opener for me these days is to hear that this same "conservative" thinking does not see a connection between the liturgy and the holy Eucharist. In other words, let us keep the hymnals, the hymns and the orders of service but it is not necessary to offer the Eucharist. Some, it seems, would even rather not offer it.
Now it is probably best that the Eucharist not be offered if it is not done reverently and following accepted historical liturgical practice. However, what concerns me in this thinking, which was a surprise to me when I first heard it, is the idea that the liturgy might really not have anything or little to do with the Eucharist.
We need not rehearse 2,000 years of Christian history, nor, for Lutherans, the Scriptures and the Confessions, let alone the Lord's institution. We must be living in a vacuum of some sort that such thinking exists among clergy. At least three factors have me concerned. First, this talk is heard among the clergy. Second, these clergy consider themselves "conservative" Lutherans. Finally, the very possibility that the liturgy might have anything to do with the Eucharist seems not even to be a consideration by some. Is the Eucharist merely an appendage that we add on random occasions?
If a study of Scripture and/or the Lutheran Confessions cannot help the clergy then I am not one who can be of much help. Also, there are numerous volumes written on this topic, as if the liturgy itself cannot be of assistance. Let me simply make two observations. First, it appears that this thinking is also connected to the lack of making a connection between the liturgy and factors such as reverence and holiness. Second, if this is what it means to be "conservative" Lutheran, supporting the separation of the Eucharist from the liturgy, then don't call me a "conservative."