Sunday, June 12, 2011
Churchly Character and Appearance
At seemingly every event, a mass was said and the pictures showed the whole body of congregation in prayerful and reverential posture. The pictures showed a people gathered by intent to be the Church and they were, from all appearances, acting churchly and doing churchly things. In contrast to that, I cannot count on how many times Synod and District meetings have had a short, perfunctory devotion (because we had to) but not much substance there. Interesting.
The Bishop was dressed in clerics, often in cassock, and always the celebrant and preacher for the diocesan events. In contrast to this, so many of our District Presidents look like businessmen or corporate types. They are dressed in business formal or business casual (how many District or Synod meetings even mention this "business casual" dress code!). Interesting.
The web sites of most Districts or "official" blogs (exception here to Colver and Harrison in Synod) do not reference churchly events but to programs (often of a distinctly unchurchly character). They promote and sell as if the Church were a marketplace of ideas or "how tos" while this blog was descriptive -- we are the church and this is what we do. Interesting.
Now let me make one thing perfectly clear. My comment is on appearance and character of this and not specifically to content. But it seems that on the blog I surveyed, the intention was to show that this was the church and the church did churchly things and the clergy of the church were clearly identified as clergy of the church. I wonder if we have such high expectations or assumptions for most gatherings of District and Synod. More often than not, we do not act churchly because we are not sure we are Church. We do not act churchly because we live in rebellion against being identified as the Church. We use our freedom to dress down instead of up and what we do has more in common with business seminars than with churchly agendas and identity. My point is simple -- sometimes we are not taken seriously as the Church and we do not take ourselves seriously as the Church because we neither act churchly nor appear to be a churchly gathering.
I have posted before on the abysmal dress of so many folks in Church on Sunday morning (dressing this way not because they do not have nicer clothes but because they choose not to wear them). I have complained on this post about folks carting their Starbucks or bottled water into the pews because they do not see the context of the Divine Service as a "formal" (not rigid but more solemn) assembly -- more like a casual family gathering. I wonder if there is not some connection. We do not act nor do we dress as the Church. Either this is contributing to the fact that we are not taken nor do we take ourselves seriously OR this is a consequence. Either way, it is not a good thing. Read the Confessions. Lutherans are a very "churchly" people -- at least on paper. Would that it were so in ordinary practice! When we sing "You are the church, I am the church, we are the church together... " who are we trying to convince?