Sunday, August 31, 2014
When all else is gone, attention focuses on the Pastor. . .
The problem with removing statues is that the Pastor becomes the only statue left. Remove the art, stained glass, and liturgical painting and the Pastor is the only real imagery left. Removed the ritual and ceremony and the Pastor is left. Remove the liturgy and the Pastor is still left. Remove the lectionary and the whim of the Pastor rules. In other words, the liturgy with its incumbent ritual and ceremony does not emphasize the Pastor but insulates the people in the pew from the tyranny of worship in which the Pastor is the only focus. Those who are suspicious of clericalism and those inclined to be wary of the cult of personality should be the folks most in support of ritual and ceremony.
The liturgical "audience" ends up sitting more than it stands or kneels and their role is ever more passive. Yet that is exactly what happens when we steal the liturgy from the people, when we assign them the role of spectator, and when we deprive them of any participation in the ritual and ceremony that accompanies the liturgy. The Pastor then becomes the sole center and focus of worship. When will people awaken to the fact that the liturgy and its ceremonial are NOT enemies of the folks in the pew but their best friends. The lectionary keeps the people from the whims of the Pastor's interests or favorites. The liturgy prevents the people from listening to a monologue of the Pastor's humor, story telling, and homespun wisdom. The ritual and ceremony of the church stops the Pastor from taking the people captive to his own preferences, feelings, and ideas of relevance. The creeds inoculates the people from the ever present reinvention of the faith by the Pastor.
Honestly, if the people really are wary of the domination of the Pastor, the liturgy, its ceremonial and ritual, the lectionary, and the creeds are your best friends and allies. Absent all of these, there is nothing left but the Pastor. Sadly, that is exactly what some people and some Pastors want....