Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Discardable Holiness. . .
It occurred to me how this stands in stark contrast to the way we Christians treat the book of Scripture and the things of God's House. An example is Roman Catholics and the awful tradition of newsprint missalettes that hold the sacred texts of the Mass, the pericopes for the quarter or month, and a few hymns and chants. Use it and then throw it away. We Lutherans do not have a much different approach to the worship of God's House. We think of worship as captive to the moment than the presence of the eternal. We chit chat before, during, and after worship as if what goes on there is trivial instead of substantial. The heritage of burlap banners and music that sounds like the moment all agitate against the idea of the eternal that God is speaking through His Word and delivering through His sacraments.
Someone once suggested to me that I-Pads might replace bound hymnals. I hope not. Yes, it might be more "green" but with that comes the terrible baggage of utilitarianism and our captivity to the moment. The House of God deserves something more than an image on a screen or a program on a tablet computer or the news print of something cheap that we plan to trash as soon as we get done with it. I vote for something substantial and something that endures past the moment. We don't need an image captured on a screen. We need solid and substantial things to reflect the solid and substantial Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
The lesson that technology screams to us is that it is temporary. The new computer you want is out of date as soon as you get it. The cell phone or mp3 player or video game you like so much is here today and gone tomorrow -- replaced by something newer if not better. Books are not eternal but they give us a sense of something somewhat permanent. I pray that we never stop using them. I pray that the art of God's House never ends up being mere holographic images or screen captures -- things not real and not substantial. I fear that we have already allowed worship to be infiltrated by the ugliness of the temporary, the moment which forgets its past and has no future.
Give me things that help me see the eternal. A Gospel book bound and adorned with fitting ornamentation... a chalice of precious metal that has touched many lips in the past and will be the cup of many faithful in the future, a hymnal which gives us our legacy as well as the best of our present in text and tune, and a reverence which speaks eternity in a world that cannot see beyond the moment...
Perhaps this is why we find it so hard to to deny ourselves or to give up any opportunity -- even though we know we will regret it later. We are all about binges and giving in to desire and jumping into to things we have not fully thought through... This weakness is a burden upon us that we cannot overcome as long as dwell in this flesh and blood. But at least the way we approach worship and the things of God should challenge such notions instead of reflecting them,