Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What would you do if you came to a Lutheran Church on a Sunday morning and found the service as is described below:

The extent to which the Lutheran Church retained and purified olden ceremonies may be got from the following description of its usages so late as the eighteenth century ([Rudolf] Rocholl, Gesch. d. ev. Kirche in  Deutschland, 300):

According to the Brunswick Agenda of Duke Augustus,1657, the pastors went to the altar clad in alb, chasuble, and mass vestments. Sacristans and elders held a fair cloth before the altar during the administration, that no particle of the consecrated Elements should fall to the ground. The altar was adorned with costly stuffs, with lights and fresh flowers. “I would,” cries [Christian] Scriver, “that one could make the whole church, and especially the altar, look like a little Heaven.” Until the nineteenth century the ministers at St. Sebald in Nuremberg wore chasubles at the administration of the Holy Supper. The alb was generally worn over the Talar, even in the sermon. [Valerius] Herberger calls it his natural Säetuch [seed-cloth], from which he scatters the seed of the Divine Word. The alb was worn also in the Westphalian cities. At Closter-Lüne in 1608 the minister wore a garment of yellow gauze, and over it a chasuble on which was worked in needlework a “Passion.” The inmates and abbesses, like Dorothea von Medine, were seen in the costume of the Benedictines. The “Lutheran monks” of Laccuna until 1631 wore the white gown and black scapular of the Cistercian order. Still later they sang the Latin Hours. The beneficiaries of the Augustinian Stift at Tübingen wore the black cowl until 1750. The churches stood open all day. When the Nuremberg Council ordered that they should be closed except at the hours of service, it aroused such an uproar in the city that the council had to yield. In 1619 all the churches in the Archbishopric of Magdeburg were strictly charged to pray the Litany. In Magdeburg itself there were in 1692 four Readers, two for   the Epistle, two for the Gospel. The Nicene Creed was intoned by a Deacon in Latin.  Then the sermon and general prayer having been said, the Deacon with two Readers and two Vicars, clad in Mass garment and gowns, went in procession   to the altar, bearing the Cup, the Bread, and what pertained to the preparation for the Holy Supper, and the Cüster [Verger] took a silver censer with glowing coals and incense, and incensed them, while another (the Citharmeister?) clothed and arranged the altar, lit two wax candles, and placed on it two books bound in red velvet and silver containing the Latin Epistles and Gospels set to notes, and on festivals set on the altar also a silver or golden  crucifix, according to the order of George of Anhalt in 1542. The Preface and Sanctus were in Latin. After   the Preface the communicants were summoned into the choir by a bell hanging there. The Nuremberg Officium Sacrum (1664) bids all the ministers be present in their stalls, in white chorrocken, standing or sitting, to sing after the Frühmesse [Morning Mass], “Lord, keep us steadfast.” The minister said his prayer kneeling with his face to the altar, with a deacon kneeling on either side. He arranged the wafers on the paten in piles of ten, like the shewbread, while the Introit and Kyrie were sung. The responses by the choir were in Latin. Up to 1690 the Latin service was still said at St. Sebald’s and St. Lawrence’s. Throughout this (eighteenth) century we find daily Matins and Vespers, with the singing of German psalms. There were sermons on weekdays. There were no churches in which they did not kneel in confession and at
the Consecration of the Elements.

I think I picked this up from Paul McCain about five years ago... HT to Paul for the reference...


Janis Williams said...

What would I think? I'd feel as though Heaven had come to earth.

Bill S. said...

What would I do? Take a seat, say a prayer, breathe in the incense and rejoice at being able to worship in this way!

Irenaeus said...

I completely agree with Janis and Bill's observations. It'd feel like church to me!

Anonymous said...

It would "feel" like church?

So at that simple New Testament setting of the Lord's Supper, the first "mass", without vestments, incense, chant and whatnot the disciples were deprived?

It is not at all surprising that in the immediate aftermath of the Reformation many Roman customs wre retained. What else did they have to go by in Germany?

With the exception of a few places, such as in Scandinavia, the Lutheran Church no longer maintains monasteries.

As I have stated before, in the "old countries" the church was generally located in the center of the towns and villages and people could have easily walked to daily matins/vespers. Women didn't work.
A little different in our current society, I would say.

Again, I have nothing against the use of beauty and well-crafted ecclesiastical appointments in worship. My home parish in Germany was, as were many Lutheran churches, a former Roman parish and since Luther was no iconoclast most of the former ecclesiastic art was retained, with some exceptions, i.e., no more tabernacle, etc.

But when all is said and done, they are no guarantee of authentic faith.


Terry Maher said...

What? They didn't feel the need for "more exposure to Scripture" with a new three year lectionary, they retained the traditional one and didn't add a third reading, no communion in the hand, no "This Is The Feast" or another song of praise just the Gloria every bloody time, they didn't drop what they were doing for a Lutheran version of the then relatively new rites promulgated at Trent? They just for the most part retained the ceremonies previously in use except what contradicts the gospel and added German hymns? Gee whiz.

(Irony off) It should be remembered this describes services in larger cities and parishes, not everywhere. The degree of elaborateness is not to be confused with the degree of fidelity to Confessional liturgical reform.

Anonymous said...

Christine nailed it. "They (all the
bells and whistles) are no guarantee
of authentic faith."

Our Lord instituted the Sacrament
of Holy Communion in an upper room of
a house, not a cathedral. He wore
his everyday robe, not any ornate
vestments. The emphasis of the
Sacrament is "given and shed for you
for the forgiveness of sins."

Irenaeus said...

Christine: A point of clarification...

I wrote it would feel like church TO ME, in response to Pastor Peter's entitled question, "What Would You Do...."

I make no assumptions or conclusions from my statement about what the Apostles may or may not have experienced in that Upper Room, or what others may or may not experience in the Mass today for that matter. Neither do I conclude that there is only one form (outward manifestation) of worship pleasing to Our Lord.

The form described in the article is one that speaks TO ME of the divinity, majesty, and awesome nature of God. Please do not assume that I therefore believe or conclude it does the same, or should do the same, for everybody, no less the Apostles themselves.

Heather said...

The closest experience that I have had to this would be Zion in Detroit and St. Johns' in Ray Township, both in Michigan. My children and I attend St. Johns weekly, it sure would be nice of more if not ALL of our Lutheran churches would get back to the roots of our Lutheran heritage and doctrine and stop clinging to the mainstream happy, clappy CoWo protestant, mainstream practices.

Anonymous said...

The form described in the article is one that speaks TO ME of the divinity, majesty, and awesome nature of God.

Ireneaus, I do get the point of what you are saying.

The tension between Catholic and "Protestant" worship has always been one of the emphasis of the divinity of Christ versus his humanity. Medieval Catholicism tended to elevate him so high that his humanity was almost lost. One hears a lot of "God" talk in the Roman church but no so much "Jesus" talk, the importance of the mass notwithstanding.

I literally grew up in the shadow of magnificent churches, cathedrals and monasteries in Europe. All that beauty was not enough to keep people attending the churches which are now for all practical purposes tourist attractions.

Terry is quite right that what Pastor Peters posted was not the "normal" experience of Lutheran worship in the towns and villages anymore than today's Roman Catholics experience a Vatican or Cathedral style mass at their local parish, in fact the average weekday mass is more or less what was formerly called a "low" mass. Incense? Nope. If they're lucky Catholics see it at Christmas/Easter and some devotions like Corpus Christi.

As for the apostles at the Last Supper, no doubt being in the presence of the True Temple Himself, they recognized that the old Temples had served their purpose in revealing the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and was but a shadow of what was to come.

Yes, we can use the good things of creation in worship but it is Scripture, not "feelings" that make us wise unto salvation.

Mark Peters said...

Christine-It is not correct that the removal of the Tabernacles from the church was a Lutheran innovation. Luther specified, in consultation on several church designs later in life, to retain the tabernacle on the altar. Just saying. The guarantee of an authentic faith is just that-faith and trust in things unseen. What assists our faith in the church are things seen-eg. vestments, incense, ritual, decorum, etc that make faith incarnate, just as Christ is. Christ didn't need vestments, incense, etc at the Last Supper since he was the vestments, incense, icon, and so forth. Oh, by the way, he was the body and blood of Christ incarnate, too.

Anonymous said...

Mark, my point was that Luther may have specified it but some Roman practices did not remain.

My parish church in Germany was Catholic until the Reformation but afterwards did not retain the tabernacle.

I have many photos of German Lutheran churches in my native home town and surrounding areas and there ain't not one tabernacle to be found. Possibly because the Lutheran Church of Bavaria wanted to clearly define herself against the Roman churches that she lived among.

Again, I think you are missing my point that the Roman church still has all these things but because the Word is still not preeminent they have not helped to change the fact that many Catholics are sacramentalized but not evangelized. It even began to happen to me while I was Catholic.

Yes, Jesus was certainly God incarnate. He also said his kingdom is not of this world.

One reads that he attended the Synagogue weekly, with its emphasis on the preaching and hearing of the Word of God.

Chris Jones said...

Yes, we can use the good things of creation in worship but it is Scripture, not "feelings" that make us wise unto salvation.

You set up a false opposition between worship as the producer of "feelings" and Scripture making us wise unto salvation. But "feelings" are not the purpose of worship and Scripture does not make us wise unto salvation apart from worship.

For how is it that Scripture makes us wise unto salvation? Not primarily through simple reading of the Bible apart from the Church, but instead through the Church using the Scripture according to her rule of faith to impart the Gospel to us. And that, of course, happens in her liturgical and sacramental life. That is why the Augustana says

That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith ...

Worship can never be divided from nor opposed to the Scriptures and the Gospel, nor treated as something indifferent, because as AC V teaches us, it is in and through worship that the Gospel is imparted to us. Without proper worship, according to the structure and function that has been handed down to us, we cannot be sure that we can "obtain this faith" (i.e. have the Gospel imparted to us in its fullness). For if the ministry of Word and Sacrament was instituted in order that we may obtain faith, it is critically important that we maintain that ministry in the manner and form in which it was instituted and given to us, so that we may continue to rely on it to obtain that faith.

Lex orandi lex est credendi

Anonymous said...

In 21st century Lutheranism in
America, there is a fine line between
clergy wearing a cassock alb and
stole and wearing a gaudy chasuble.

Vestments are to help the laity see
the pastor as a representative of
Christ not a fashion plate for high
church vanity.

We need to be careful and keep it
humble when it comes to vestments.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Chris, I understand that Scripture is mediated through the Church.

However, the idea of "proper worship" according to traditional Lutheran practices is far more flexible than what is being proposed here. Lutherans have always understood that any individual parish may use more simple or more elaborate means in worship according to their preference and ability.

As far as tabernacles go, we need to first settle among ourselves as to how we understand the Real Presence, i.e., the question of "receptionism" or whether the Presence remains objectively. If not, the idea of a tabernacle as Rome understands it is entirely illogical. Or should we perhaps recover the idea of transubtantiation?

Also, my references to feelings were more in the Roman context and I should have made that clear. It is entirely to "excite" (to use a Roman word) religious sentiments that Rome not only uses what Lutherans consider adiaphora but these "things" keep the people in a constant state of expectation for this miracle or that miracle, this apparition or that apparition.

The "means" too often become the end but they become OK because the Catholic church says they're OK and that's OK because the Catholic church says it is.

Jesus left us absolutely no instructions about liturgy with the exception that as regards the Holy Supper "as often" as we celebrate it in we do it in remembrance of him.

Chris Jones said...

we need to first settle among ourselves as to how we understand the Real Presence, i.e., the question of "receptionism"

Well, you will get no argument from me on that point. The heresy of receptionism needs to be cut out, root and branch.

Or should we perhaps recover the idea of transubtantiation?

No. There is widespread confusion as to what transubstantiation is, and why it is objectionable. Many people (Catholic and Lutheran alike) think that "transubstantiation" and "Real Presence" are simply synonyms. That, of course, is not true. But if a Lutheran believes that "transubstantiation" simply means "objective Real Presence" and knows that we Lutherans don't believe in transubstantiation, then he or she will look for some "subjective" version of the Real Presence. Inevitably that means looking for the "Real Presence" not in the sacrament, but in oneself, and so you end up with receptionism.

What is wrong with transubstantiation is that it is a philosophical explanation of the mechanism of the Real Presence, one which goes beyond what has actually been revealed to us. Because of that "going beyond" it is not proper to impose it as dogma. As philosophical explanations go, it's fairly plausible and it may even be true. But even if it is true, it cannot be imposed as dogma.

That's what the Lutheran denial of transubstantiation means, no more and no less. But our denial of transubstantiation is not a denial of the objective and real presence of the body and blood of the Lord in the sacrament of the altar. That presence is real and it is objective. It does not depend on the faith or the feelings of the worshipers, but only on the promise of the Lord. That presence does not fade in and out of existence when the faithful receive the elements or when the service ends and the congregation departs.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are quite right that many folks, Lutheran and Catholic don't understand the Roman teaching on transubstantiation. Lutheran belief is actually closer to that of the Orthodox, leaving it as the mystery that it is.

If I learned nothing else in my decade as a Catholic I learned the difference in the Roman/Lutheran teachings.

But our denial of transubstantiation is not a denial of the objective and real presence of the body and blood of the Lord in the sacrament of the altar.

That presence is real and it is objective. It does not depend on the faith or the feelings of the worshipers, but only on the promise of the Lord. That presence does not fade in and out of existence when the faithful receive the elements or when the service ends and the congregation departs.

Understood, Chris and my reference to a Lutheran recovery of transubstantiation was posted with my tongue firmly in my cheek.

I do have to give a tip of the hat to Rome, though. Although I do not agree with Roman teaching believing as they do that the bread and wine become the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ it is only logical that practices such as Eucharistic adoration developed, as well as sundry and various "Eucharistic miracles".

Not to mention the presence of a tabernacle in every Roman church.


Terry Maher said...

The point of an altar tabernacle is to reserve the Sacrament, as it is called.

Reserved for what? Where is reserved in Take and Eat? For that matter, where is Take and Drink at all in the tabernacle?
Just nonsense, right along with "canons" to amp up the Verba.

Even Rome has backed down on tabernacles, removing them from the main altar (the altar of sacrifice, around which the community gathers) to a side altar (the altar of repose).

Big change from when I was younger, when we were taught that the focus of a Catholic church round the clock is the living presence of Christ in the Eucharist (well, half of it anyway, but Mama Church says that's as good as all of it and contains it all) reserved in the taberbacle.. And yet you still see Catholics genuflect toward front centre though the reseved Eucharist has been off to the side for a generation now.

So again, where is reserved in take?

Anonymous said...

And yet you still see Catholics genuflect toward front centre though the reseved Eucharist has been off to the side for a generation now.

Quite right, Terry. And not only that, because that old habit is not easy to break in the RC on Good Friday Holy Communion is distributed from hosts that have already been consecrated and after receiving some Catholics still genuflect towards what is an empty tabernacle!!

Oy oy oy.


Chris Jones said...

Jesus left us absolutely no instructions about liturgy with the exception ...

I should not be so sure about that if I were you. Whatever instruction our Lord may have given the Apostles concerning the liturgy is mostly not recorded in the New Testament; but that is to be expected since the New Testament is not, and was not ever intended to be, a book of liturgical texts and rubrics. That does not mean, however, that the Apostolic Church did not have a definite liturgical ordo, nor does it mean that its liturgical ordo did not come from the Lord. The remarkable uniformity of the structure and function (though not the details) of the liturgy in the early Church rather suggests that there was a specific Apostolic liturgical ordo; and what the Apostles handed down to the Church we may presume was given to them by the Lord. He spent forty days between His resurrection and ascension "speaking to them of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God" (Ac 1.3); how can you be sure that the liturgy of the Church was not among the things that He spoke of?

People like to think of Christian worship as something man-made that we offer to God in response to the Gospel. It is not. It is something given to us by God, through which He conveys faith, grace, and the Gospel to us. It is not for us to devise the liturgy that we think best; it is rather for us to serve the liturgy that has been handed down to us in the Apostolic Tradition, through which God has promised to give His gifts to us.

Anonymous said...

how can you be sure that the liturgy of the Church was not among the things that He spoke of?

How can you be sure that it was?

When one looks at the simplicity of Justin's description of early worship it could fit either "evangelical" or "catholic" models.

Apostolic tradition, handed down?

Look to the ancient Roman and Byzantine empires for much of what constitutes "Apostolic Tradition."

The early church knew nothing of an hierarchial, sacrificial priesthood which is modeled more on Temple Judaism than it is on New Testament Christianity.


Anonymous said...

I see no one is addressing the tabernacle issue.


Chris Jones said...

How can you be sure that it was?

I am not the one who said "Jesus left us absolutely no instructions." If you are going to make blanket statements like that, you are claiming that you know every instruction Jesus ever gave, including the "things pertaining to the Kingdom" between Easter and Ascension.

Apostolic tradition, handed down?

Yes, ma'am: 2 Th 2.15.

The early church knew nothing of an hierarchical, sacrificial priesthood

I think you need to look into this more deeply. The typical word used to refer to the Divine Service in the early and ecumenical canons is "the oblation," and presbyters and bishops are widely referred to as "those who offer" the Church's oblation. This language from canon 18 of the Council of Nicaea is typical:

It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great Synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters, whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [i.e. the deacons, who are not allowed to consecrate the sacrament] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [i.e. the presbyters].

Speaking of "hierarchical," the same canon goes on to say:

let the deacons remain within their own bounds, knowing that they are the ministers of the bishop and the inferiors of the presbyters. Let them receive the Eucharist according to their order, after the presbyters, and let either the bishop or the presbyter administer to them.

Now, you are free to disagree with the Fathers at Nicaea, and say that they ought not to have spoken of presbyters as "those who offer" nor to have laid out a hierarchy of bishops, presbyters, and deacons to be strictly followed in order. But in the face of such evidence (and this is but one example of the widespread use of such language), you cannot say that "the early church know nothing of an hierarchical, sacrificial priesthood" without betraying your ignorance of the period.

Of course you could also say that the early fourth-century Council of Nicaea doesn't really qualify as "the early Church," but they did hand down to us a pretty decent Creed, so I would not go there if I were you.

Anonymous said...

Ooops my bad, I should have qualified that with "left us no instructions in the New Testament."

Now, let's get down to the rest of that "apostolic instruction." Presbyters? As in "presbyter", "elder" as picked up by the Presbyterian churches?

Nope, nope, won't do. There's a big difference between "presbyter" and "sacerdos/hiereus". Sacerdotal language refers to "sacrificial" language.

Before you deign to call me ignorant, where is the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" mentioned in early church documents?

Oh, and yes, that little thing called apostolic succession as in "Petrine Primacy". Anyone with a third grade ability to read can see for himself that the papal office was a historical development. The early eastern bishops kept falling into heresy, and as Rome acquired more prestige in settling those disputes eventually we got, voila, "Peter has spoken!"

Or, perhaps Jesus left different directions for the Orthodox than the Romans, since the Orthodox do not accept the papal office as it now stands?

Gott hilf mir, with one half of my family being Roman Catholic, a Catholic father and having been Catholic myself, I haven't a clue.


Anonymous said...

And when I say "early church" I mean before Constantine legalized Christianity and all sorts of hangers-on came in.


Terry Maher said...

What utterly useless speculation -- Jesus could have said this, he might have said that, this document could be based on something right from him.

Hey fellas, I was a little pressed for time there at the seder so let me set out for you what I really want done here before I lift off.

The point being, none of it is revelation, none of it is Scripture, which does not mean it's of no value, but does mean that value is not a command from Lord or revelation from the Lord, but a human tradition EVEN IF so based because the Holy Spirit did not inspire it in the books of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

What would I do? I'D BE THERE EVERY SUNDAY and every chance I could get. I would LOVE it!

Laura said...

Sounds wonderful to me too! Just wish there was a really liturgical LCMS parish with communion every Sunday near enough NW Illinois.

X said...

Actually, They did have vestments in the early church. My pastor has researched it and found proof. I wish I could provide that for you, but I don't have a copy of it.

Sounds like "on earth as it is in heaven" to me.