Monday, April 15, 2013

What do we have in common with our forbearers?

Transport the average Lutheran congregant back to the time of the Lutheran Reformation for a Sunday morning service and most would find themselves confused, dismayed, and disheartened by the "catholic" nature of the Divine Service.  What is wrong when we find ourselves embarrassed, ashamed, or uncomfortable with the form of the Divine Service in a Lutheran setting from the time of our formation?

Here is a "photo" painting of an early Lutheran Mass at Koenigsburg.  Complete with full vestments, ceremonial, and postures representative of their "catholic" past.  Without shame or confusion, these Lutherans saw the Reformation primarily as clear confession and not the abandonment of catholic identity or liturgy.  Note that altar boys with the houseling cloth used like a paten to make sure any crumbs from the distribution of the host did not fall to the floor but were reverently dealt with.


How about this snapshot of a Reformation era Divine Service at Brandenburg a generation after Luther's October 31 shot heard round the world?  Does this look anything like what most Lutherans experience on Sunday morning?

Nope, most Lutherans would run to the nearest PresbyMethoPentecostoBaptistic congregation to be cleansed from the formalistic piety so evident in these paintings... but there are many, many others that I could have posted.

My point... like a family looking at old photos might note a change in dress or hair due to a particular time and place, we might notice some difference between today and then.  However, we should feel just as at home in the setting as we do now... or else there just might be something wrong... with us.


William Tighe said...

It's a bit strange, though, the way that the officiating clergy are vested in what appear to me to be these early/mid 19th-Century paintings. In the first (Koenigsberg) the two clergy appear to be vested in surplices only -- why? (Why especially, given that both Catholic bishops whose see cities were on Prussian territory, Georg von Polentz [d. 1550] and Erhard von Queis [d.1529], both embraced the Reformation?) If the man administering communion in the second is Mathias von Jagow, Bishop of Brandenburg from 1526 to his death in 1544, the man who persuaded Elector Joachim II to embrace the Reformation in 1539, he is also dressed strangely, wearing no episcopal vestments as well.

Btw, the Wikipedia article on von Jagow claims he was never consecrated a bishop:

Carl Vehse said...

These paintings, among other artwork and information (in German), can be seen in Historische Bilder zum Evangelisch-Lutherischen Gottesdienst: Eine Dokumentation (Historic photos for Evangelical - Lutheran Worship: A Documentary) Helmut Schatz, Ansbach, 2004, 138 pages) (Note: 53.5 MB file size)

The first painting is discussed on pp. 12-15, with the painting shown on p. 14:

Abb.6: “Herzog Albrecht von Preußen empfängt in der Domkirche zu Königsberg zum ersten Mal das Abendmahl nach protestantischem Ritus” Aquarell von Karl Ludwig Julius Rosenfelder (1817 – 1881)
Sogenanntes “Kleines Hochmeisterbild”
Hochmeisterkirche Berlin - Wilmersdorf
Foto: Reinhold George

Fig.6: "Duke Albert of Prussia receives in the cathedral of Königsberg
The first time the sacrament after Protestant rite "
Watercolor by Karl Ludwig Julius Rosenfeld (1817 - 1881)
So-called "Little Grand Master Image"
Hochmeister Church Berlin - Wilmersdorf
Photo: Reinhold George

The second painting is discussed in pp. 16-22, with the painting shown on p. 17:

Abb.7: “Kurfürst Joachim II. empfängt das Heilige Abendmahl aus der Hand
des Bischofs Matthias von Jagow, Brandenburg, 1539”
Gemälde von Carl Röhling, 1913, St. Nicolai, Berlin - Spandau
Foto: Kunstdienst der ev. Kirche Berlin - Brandenburg

Fig.7: "Joachim II receives Holy Communion from the hands
Bishop Matthias von Jagow, Brandenburg, 1539 "
By Carl Roehling, 1913, St. Nicolai, Berlin - Spandau
Photo: Art Service of the Evangelical Church of Berlin - Brandenburg

There is also an engraving of the scene on p. 20:

Abb.8: “Kurfürst Joachim II. empfängt das Heilige Abendmahl aus der Hand
des Bischofs Matthias von Jagow,Brandenburg, 1539”.
Stich aus dem 18. Jahrhundert
Foto: Staatliche Lutherhalle, Wittenberg
( jetzt: “Luther in Sachsen - Anhalt – LuiSA”)

Fig.8: "Joachim II receives Holy Communion from the hands
Bishop Matthias von Jagow, Brandenburg, 1539. "
Engraving from the 18th century
Photo: State Luther Hall, Wittenberg
(Now: "Luther in Saxony - Anhalt - LuiSA")

HT: One of the many reasons...

Anonymous said...

We no longer live in the day and time portrayed in these paintings.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous.... maybe we should!!