Sunday, July 29, 2018
How do we look?
It just depends. Some Lutherans look like a typical version of upper class Protestantism. They have a hymnal and follow it -- not so much because they want to but because that is just who they are. They have an altar but the attention given to it is more functional -- a table for the meal. They have a pulpit and it often stands above the altar both in height and in the eyes of the people -- they are Word people. They have an educated clergy who is apt to preach and teach. They wear vestments but more as a nod to tradition and sometimes are a little embarrassed by them (except for the academic gown, of course, since he is a seminary graduate!).
It just depends. Some Lutherans are not so laid back but are plenty casual. They could not be bothered by hymnals. They are excited and may throw hands in the air or clap them to the beat of a catchy tune but they wear tees and jeans or polos and khakis all around. They don't have much furniture but are up on the technology and have a great sound system and good projectors and screens as well. In their liturgy they sing and talk and that about covers it. Their preachers tend to preach relevant sermons on the issues people are encountering in their own lives and in their search for answers and help.
It just depends. Some Lutherans have altars, statues, crucifixes, and all the accoutrements. They have hymnals and other things printed up that add to the rubrics and even to the liturgy of the book. They are reverent in style even when children and infants make it hard to be rigidly formal. They look and act just like what you would find in an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish or in the Roman Catholic Church down the street. They have definitely beefed up the sermon but not at the expense of the ceremonies or structure of the liturgy. They bow and kneel and genuflect and make the sign of the cross seemingly all the time.
And the weird thing about it all is that they all claim to be Lutheran! Though there are clearly some whispers behind each other's back, the wars are not all that bloody and they are fought mostly on blogs and the internet rather than in formal word to word conflict. Their people are passionate advocates of their particular style of worship but when they come together, the nod seems to predominate to hymnals and the more ritualistic side. So what is up with those Lutherans?
Especially when this is what they said nearly 500 years ago: “Moreover, no noticeable changes have been made in the public celebration of the Mass, except that in certain places German hymns are sung alongside the Latin responses for the instruction and exercise of the people.” (AC XXIV.3)