Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Choose a position most comfortable to you for prayer. . .

Stand as you are able. . . offered the voice from the chancel. . .

Choose a position most comfortable to you for prayer. . . said another before the biddings began. . .

Kneel if you find it meaningful. . . said another before the confession.

I will never forget the woman at Redeemer, Ft. Wayne, who would walk so slowly into the front pew on the left.  Her canes barely helped to make her mobility easier.  When it came time to kneel, she would kneel but not without great difficulty.  Sometimes it seemed she barely got down before it was time to get up.  When I approached her and asked if she would like to receive the sacrament in the pew or if it would be easier for her not to kneel, she returned my words with a look of stunned silence.  She would continue to kneel and make her way to the altar until it became impossible.  Her difficulty was not the issue.  I never raised it with her again.

I continue to have folks who might better be communed in the pew but who refuse to give up making their way to the altar rail to commune with the others there -- not all those with difficult walking choose this but many remain fighting their disability to the end.  We also have folks who kneel even though it is obvious their kneeling is not without some discomfort.

Yet more and more the pastors are cutting a break by offering folks the option of doing what is most comfortable to them.  I suppose it is okay.  Prayers are heard whether the one praying kneels, stands, or sits.  That is not the issue.  What is the issue is how easily it is to make all of these preferences a matter of personal choice and comfort.  God forbid that we should be uncomfortable!  Yet I cannot help but wonder if there will be anything we do together in worship if the road to personal preference continues to lead us to individual choice.  Again, my point here is not lock step uniformity but the way personal comfort and preference have become the defining factors of what we do together in worship.

People do not sing hymns they do not like.  Some do not open the book because they do not want to.  Others leave whenever they choose.  The individualism of personal preference or individual comfort has become the primary factor in what we do on Sunday morning.  If we don't like singing, we do not sing.  If we don't like kneeling, we don't kneel.  If we don't like signing the cross, we don't sign the cross.  This is not a matter of disability or rather inability but of choice.  If I don't like gluten, I want gluten free hosts.  If I don't like wine, I want grape juice.  If I don't like saying "catholic" in the creed, I say Christian.  If I don't like chanting, I want a spoken service option.  And the list goes on... and on...  I gotta be me.  Do it or die, I just gotta try and be me -- everywhere I am and in everything I do.  At least that is how it is beginning to look and sound on a typical Sunday morning in a typical Christian church.  We already have Majestic Praise traditional option at 7 am, Glorious Blend at 9 am, and Unleashed Contemporary at 11 am, how many more options will we provide in a vain attempt to cater to the whims of the people?  Is there nothing worth submitting our preference and comfort level?

Comfort, convenience, and preference have trumped all other factors about the practice of the faith.  We are individuals first and foremost and we have individual choices which no one dare abridge.  I understand it but I don't think it is right.  Worship is one setting where personal preference and comfort should not drive what we do. 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shall we even begin to address those who no longer come to worship, would like to receive the Sacrament at home because they are "shut-in'" and yet are perfectly capable of making it everywhere ELSE around town - including the church dinners?!?

Anonymous said...

It's all about the church becoming a part of the hospitality industry. I believe the Poorvoo document terms it, "altar hospitality." And sharing the holy snacks with whoever wanders in of a Sunday morning. One mustn't eat snacks before guests without sharing; they might be hungry.

Jim Davis said...

“If I don't like gluten, I want gluten free hosts. If I don't like wine, I want grape juice.”
Gluten or alcohol may be a medical problem for some; accommodating these needs is verboten?
My wife could not walk very fast (20 feet in 2 minutes the last time we timed her speed); her scooter would not navigate well down the aisle. We sat in the back row and she received Holy Communion in her seat.
Please do not confuse medical necessity with personal wishes.

Pastor Peters said...

Jim,

Of course there is a big difference between need and desire. I have found that most who need it, wish they could participate without constraint but those who desire it seem to relish their special need. I do not confuse medical need with personal desire. Thanks

Erik Maldre said...

There's too much "we" and not enough "He".