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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

A "Call" for help?

By Larry Beane

This is the opening procession of a recent Call Service at the chapel of the St. Louis Seminary.

Gads! The Plexiglas® cross is unusual enough, but what is the deal with the flag-wagging? Is this a solemn ecclesiastical service or is this a rehearsal for the next Olympic rhythmic gymnastics event?

What does this even mean?

I was looking very closely to see if the guys waving the banners were surreptitiously signaling for help. You can send Morse code signals by wagging a flag - one way for the dits, the other way for the dahs. It is no longer necessary to pass a Morse code test to get a ham radio license these days, but under the circs, I think every seminarian would do well to knows his dits from a dah in the ground. If it were me, I think I would take a page out of Admiral Jeremiah Denton's playbook and signal T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse with that banner, over and over, until somebody out there, anybody, for the love of God and all that is holy, put this service out of its "Missouri."

Then again, maybe a more appropriate signal for the liturgical flag-waver might be T-R-A-I-N-W-R-E-C-K.

I can't help but hear the haunting echo of two of my own seminary professors. One of them, when lecturing about liturgical novelty put it bluntly: "Gentlemen, don't do that crap." The other quote is more of a generalized observation about the overall state of worship in the Missouri Synod: "Poor God!"

Is there any possibility that whoever put this flag-waving exercise into a very serious liturgy of one of our two seminaries could himself (or herself) get a "divine call" to serve as the liturgist for Cirque du Soleil instead?

S-O-S! Not your grandfather's synod indeed.