Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Prayer lights. . .
When our Lord said that His Father's House was a house of prayer, we all clapped and cheered. Down with the business of the temple, the buying and the selling -- distractions from the prayers of the faithful that go on there. The sad truth is that there is not much praying going on in Lutheran church buildings. Most of them are locked and even when open there are not many folks who venture in to pray. Our eternal lights shine to empty rooms of a presence that is hardly even acknowledged outside of Sunday morning.
When you enter a Roman Catholic church you cannot escape the flickers of candles and the movement of people coming and going. To be sure, not as busy as it was but still there. Even when the building is nearly empty, the votive lights remind us of those who have been there, who have knelt in prayer, and raised up their petitions and supplications to the One who has promised to hear and answer. This is a good thing.
Yes, we would quibble about the prayers to the saints but that is not inherently the idea of the votive stands. They are reminders of the God who is present, who listens and hears, who answers and acts. I think that it is a good thing when the house of God has people entering to pray and leaving to serve -- not just on Sunday morning.
I have not had the nerve to introduce this. It is, perhaps, just too "catholic" for Lutherans. But that does not mean it is a bad thing. Yes, we can pray anywhere. Yes, the church facility needs to be secured. But behind all of this is still the reality that the nave is hardly used except for the Divine Service in most Lutheran congregations. We should open the doors and allow the faithful to come and pray. The house of the Lord is like a refuge and sanctuary -- it is the place where we associate God's nearer presence and rightfully so. If I get up enough nerve, I may just bring it up before I retire and fade away... If I do, you may just hear about it... one more Pastor ridden out of town on the rail for being too Catholic! Funny thing though, there is nothing particularly Roman about this. The Orthodox also light candles and pray before the icons. And I bet Lutherans once did a lot of praying in the same way... before we became so darn self-conscious about the catholic identity of our Lutheran Confession and practice...
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
If it helps, I agree with you. I have also had the nagging feeling lately that I should be on my knees for the Words of Institution.
When Lutherans finally get over the idea that prayer is not just some mental activity and that the gestures of the body (prostration, kneeling, making the sign of the cross, lighting candles, etc.) are as much part of prayer as the words and the silence, then I think you can introduce the votive stands. Since the attitude of Lutherans is unlikely to ever change, I suggest you shelve the idea lest you be run out of the Synod for being too small-c "catholic."--Chris
We have votive candles in many Anglican Churches as well. I agree that they are a very useful idea, and to be encouraged.
I have encountered some resistance to the idea as a fire hazard. It is important to place the votive stand in a position such that if a candle glass breaks (or explodes, as I'm told has happened) that this will not start a fire.
With this precaution, I think they are a wonderful idea.
"Yes, we would quibble about the prayers to the saints"
Those who hold a quia confession of the Lutheran Symbols would not quibble about prayers to the saints with Romanists or anyone else. We would be asserting clearly AC.XXI, Ap.XXI (and no, denn allein or praeter illud in XXI.9 does not mean 2 Macc. is part of Holy Scripture), and SA.Part II.II, Of the Invocation of Saints.
LMMV (Lufauxran Mileage May Vary)
My friends at Grace Lutheran in Tulsa actually have two stands in the nave. I don't hesitate for a moment to light candles when I visit for a midweek or festival service.
Travelling in NE Germany in the summer of 2011, I don't think we entered a Lutheran church that did not have votive candles -- even a small neighborhood church in Hamburg. It seemed completely common there.
Unfortunately, the only fire hazard with votives might be physical. Would that the flame of the candle were only representative of the prayer in my heart (as it was intended). Mea culpa.
You have at least one member who would not complain about votives.
Post a Comment