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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Ecclesiastical Pet Peeves as Ecclesiastical Rubrics

Ironically, Dr. Jerry Kieschnick and the Gottesdienst Crowd agree on something. What you do in the Divine Service with your posture, what you wear, how you speak, etc., actually matters and confesses something about what is actually happening. Without any surprise; however, we differ on what those things are. He calls them “pet peeves,” but make no mistake they are his rubrics.

But at least we’re getting somewhere. We agree that it’s not adiaphora. In other words, we agree that it’s important, even necessary, to conduct oneself in a manner befitting the occasion. Sadly, the occasion for Dr. Kieschnick seems to be of a different spirit and truth than us and that of the Lutheran Confessions (AC XXIV, 1–3). It is more like a meeting of US Presidents and Fortune 500 companies, which his list reflects. It’s a meeting of people who have it all together to praise God, the American flag, and apple pie.

The reality is that we meet before the Altar as those who decidedly don’t have it all together, but eagerly desire it. Thus we come before the King of the universe in words and posture to confess that we don’t, imploring Him for His grace and mercy to forgive us, and give us the will and action to do better. Thus all that we do, everything that we wear, how and why we sit and stand, what we sing and why we sing it, everything reflects the very nature of what is happening—the Holy Trinity coming into our midst to forgive us, renew us, console us, and feed us. 

Thus the importance of ecclesiastical rubrics. And these aren’t pet peeves. They are the wisdom of the church handed down through the ages to confess in word and posture and space—in all that we do in the Divine Service—the reality of the God who comes in Spirit and truth to receive us who prostrate (προσκυνέω) themselves before Him in Spirit and truth. Come to think of it: We agree on one more thing—it’s a pet peeve when other’s don’t recognize it as important.