Funny how we are adamant that ceremonies be rightly observed when it comes to military burial, the sports rituals across the board, and a host of other arenas but then shift uncomfortably when we find them in Church. Lutherans, among others, are rather guilty of this. We are, it seems, supposed to do the rubrics without really liking them or thinking them important or, better, to bend the rubrics to our own preference (which is the ultimate goal of freedom or adiaphora, after all).
I have asked pastors to fill in for me when I was away and they instantly respond, "I don't wear a chasuble and I don't do all that fancy stuff and I don't chant and I don't bow and I don't . . . etc...." In other words, it does not matter what the people in the pew have come to know and expect over my nearly 25 years here, their own pastoral preference (aka their formal complaint with formality) must rule the day. Okay, well, maybe I don't need to be gone if my people are going to be so summarily dismissed in their appreciation of rubric, tradition, and practice. I have filled in for pastors who insist that they don't do anything special on Sunday morning but that has not prevented them from handing me a two page list of how to and what not to do. Even though it goes against my grain, I try to comply. I am, after all, the guest in the house most frequently visited by others.
It is rather amazing that the same people who go off like a firecracker when somebody screws up the national anthem or who so doctors up the words and melody to own it as their own that the rest of us cannot recognize it, well, they cannot stand ceremony in Church. The people who are pro-military and all the ritual and ceremony that goes with it are also the ones who constantly wonder why we need to be so fancy in Church. Surely God is more impressed with our restraint than with all the flourish of word, action, and ceremony? God knows that this kind of stuff is not really me and God wants me to be true to myself first, right? Wrong. If that is all God wanted, it would not have required the death of His one and only Son.
We are fascinated by the ritual and ceremonies of others but when it comes to heading through the door of our Lutheran congregation on Sunday morning, we insist upon our
Okay. Rant mode off. I feel better now. Do you?