Friday, July 25, 2014
Got to hand it to the Anglicans. . .
Of course, that was not the intention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. We had a boat packed with damask for paraments, vestments for the clergy, a pipe organ for singing, musical instruments for playing, the Eucharistic vessels befitting the body and blood of Christ, etc... Unfortunately (or a felicitous and fortuitous accident -- depending upon your point of view), this boat never made it to Saint Louie.
How many congregations have been born with nothing and even after many years still lack some of the ordinary accoutrements of the liturgy? How many times haven't Lutherans defined ourselves according to the make do resources of our need -- even regularizing the lack and justifying never making up for the invention of our necessity?
The Anglican Church of North America is but a sliver of the size of the Episcopal Church USA. Yet that has not stopped them from beginning with a full compliment of offices and office holders. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has elected the Rt. Rev. Foley Beach as its second archbishop in succession to the Most Rev. Robert Duncan. Meeting in a private conclave at St Vincent College in LaTrobe, Penna., on 22 June 2014 ACNA’s bishops joined by the Primate of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Kampala, elected Bishop Beach by secret ballot.
In other words, it already has had its second archbishop. Only five years old, with barely 100K members and 1K congregations, they have already gone from one archbishop to another. Got to hand to those Anglicans. They will not let small size or the problems of beginning a church body prevent them from all the bells, smells, and whistles.
Would that we Lutherans were not so accustomed to making do with little or nothing. Less is not always and not usually more. It is less. I wish we recaptured the same churchly senses that accompanied our move to America (before it all went sour). I wish we did not seem to glory in not having anything but what is bare necessity in church, church structure, and church life. I wish we had not had the angst about being the church that seemed to elevate provisional status to the norm. It has left us prone to diminishing anything but the bare minimum and, to quote Garrison Keillor, to "downsizing" what God is trying to upsize. We Lutherans are still at the point of insisting that if we don't have to have something, we don't really need it at all. This disdain for fullness does seem to inhibit our choice of homes, wardrobes, vacation plans, automobile choice, etc... It seems that nothing is to good for me but everything is too good for church. Maybe we don't absolutely need an archbishop or even bishops... or pipe organs, art work, vestments, etc... But there is no glory in refusing what are gifts and blessings used rightly and well. We seem to have a natural disposition to being plain people in plain buildings with plain pastors on Sunday mornings. It is as if we think such self-denial is good, at least in small measure, and Sunday morning is one way to hold on to a principle without having to suffer with this decision the rest of our lives...