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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Why we do what we do

Driving to a shut-in communion call today I passed a billboard for Faith Fellowship in Alton, IL. The billboard (of which, alas, I cannot find a picture online) included imagery of a five piece band done in the style of the successful iPod advertising campaign, something like this:


The text superimposed over the image was: Casual - Contemporary - Creative - Church....Faith Fellowship.

Nice alliteration - too bad they couldn't think of another relevant word that started with a C to describe what their fellowship was all about. That omission is apparently not a one-off.

And that is both a condemnation of themselves and their modus operandi and a warning to us. Why do we do what we do? How do we describe it? The liturgy and traditional ceremonies that accompany it are not ends in themselves - though their beauty might tempt one to treat them that way.

We follow the traditional Western Mass in the form handed to us by the Lutheran Reformers because it constantly preaches Christ to us. We insist that our pastors use this form of worship to ensure that they will bring Christ to us. We bow the head and knee to display honor to Christ. We are very uncasual to remind the people in the sanctuary that they are in the presence of Christ.

And so, on this shut-in call. . . said shut-in's son says, pointing to the altar ware in the Mass kit: "Is that gold, Pastor?" Darn straight: because these vessels are for the real and true Body and Blood of Christ. There is nothing casual about that - and it deserves our best: not our bankrupt culture's regurgitated leftovers, not Crocks and cargo pants, not glass held by aluminum trays: but kneeling, chanting, gold, and brocade - and all of it to confess Christ.

Hence - Gottesdienst.


Pr. H. R.7 Comments