If you can judge the “Lutheran-ness” of an event based on the ratio of sweaters to humans, then when Luther died, he surely ascended into Skoglund Auditorium. Christmas Fest is one of the most effective examples in the world of music being utilized as a form of worship, as years upon years of St. Olaf students and choir members have been told. In my view, the fact that Pastor Matt narrates throughout the event and reads the Gospel with Pastor Katie makes Christmas Fest a time of worship. It really is as simple as that. There is a conscious effort on the part of the artistic committee to make it possible for people to worship at Fest. Without those key things, it would be so much easier to call it a “concert” of Christmas music. In its current state, with each year’s theme so profoundly integrated into the narration and performance, and taking into account the deep-rooted tradition with which we St. Olaf students resurrect this exquisite exhibition of Christmas spirit each year, I think the only ones who wouldn’t call it worship are the ones who haven’t really thought about it.
The concept of music being accessible to any congregation was so important to Luther that he composed his own chorales with the intent of spreading the efficiency with which music could transmit ideas and doctrines. Having the time to compose chorales instead of doing ‘works’ is definitely a benefit of guaranteed salvation through faith. While perhaps he would disapprove of certain pieces we perform that are too inaccessible for our congregation of twelve thousand, the spirit of the Reformation is intensely alive each year in Christmas Fest.