Thursday, February 27, 2020

Things to fix. . .

Okay, like a bug to the light I was drawn and could not help it.  I say a headline that said "15 Things that should not be happening during the Mass" and I had to know.  What fifteen things?  Some were predictable.  Some were odd.  Some were a little petty.  Well, you take a look.  Do any of them apply outside of Rome, say to Wittenberg?  

1) Clapping During Mass 
Have to admit I am NOT a fan of applause during the service **unless** there is some special occasion or reason but certainly not in response to musicians or to signal agreement with something said.
2) Too many extraordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist 
I wonder if Rome is not the only place where the chancel has become crowded.  Could it be the aftermath of the everyone a minister phase?
3) Receiving from the cup when you are sick 
I have been the last to receive from the chalice for 40 years and have never missed the Divine Service because of illness!  I do not agree with feeding the craziness that presumes you will catch something from the chalice.  Studies have proven the hand is more likely the problem.  Why not give up shaking hands?  Which brings me to. . .
4) Wandering around during sign of peace, peace sign during sign of peace 
Though I like the sign of peace, I do wonder if it has been mistaken for a gesture of friendliness or welcome.  We exchange the peace before the Introit, after the absolution, so technically it is not within the liturgy exactly.  Yet I do find it tiring that sometimes it is a labor to get people to remember why they are here and turn the attention where it needs be.  Peace signs?  Never seen it.
5) Excessive socializing before Mass 
Here I disagree. BEFORE the Mass, socialization is fine.  WHERE it takes place is the issue.  Sometimes the nave is so loud and busy that you cannot even pray before the sound of the bells and the start of the Eucharistic liturgy.  So socialize all you want to in the Narthex or entryway, come early to do it so you won't be late to the worship service, and by all means gladhand all you want afterwards but give the Divine Service its dignity.
6) Not fasting before Mass 
Fasting is good bodily preparation, said Luther.  I agree.  But I am even more concerned that people do not even think about what they are here for or what they will receive.  We announce after the Prayers that people should read Luther's Christian Questions and Answers, look at the Communion Statement, and pray the prayers printed in the worship folder and in the Hymnal.  Do people do it?  Probably not.  But we did about everything we could to get them to do so. . .
7) Keeping your phone ringer on when you go to Mass 
Need I say a word here?  Phones should be turned off, silenced, and pocketed during the Divine Service.
8) Not donating 
I disagree. We do not donate.  We bring tithes and offerings.  But I do agree that there is something wrong when we come to receive and refuse to give.  Giving is part of the new heart and new nature given to us in Baptism.  Are we refusing to follow the Lord's own example of generosity and thankfulness?
9) Leaving early from Mass 
Unless you are ill, headed to the restroom, or late for work, or the fire alarm is going off, come before the bell rings, stay for the entire service, and leave after the benediction.  Is that so hard?
10) Bad preaching during homilies 
Now, I am sure that a Roman Catholic might have a bit more occasion to complain about this than others, but it is a common complaint.  Make sure bad preaching is not about style but content.  Good content badly preached is way better than pious baloney preached with conviction, wit, and humor.  Close your eyes and listen and ask for a printed copy of the sermon to review it.  Where the Word of God is faithfully preached and the Gospel proclaimed clearly, thanks be to God!  The rest can be learned.  Try those Preaching Modules, LCMS complainers and those about whom they are complaining.
11) Receiving Communion in the state of mortal sin 
Sadly, this is something that I can do little about except warn those who commune without confessing or without true penitence.  We can judge outwardly but only God can judge the heart.  Yet, it is a serious enough issue that we should be warned from time to time about communing without repentance.
12) Dressing improperly 
What?  Lutherans don't have a corner on the dressing down problem?  If you have nicer clothes wear then but in any case wear the nicest you have.  What you wear on the outside too often is a glimpse of the problem on the inside.  At least dress modestly.
13) Not ringing the bells during the consecration 
Lutherans were forced to give up the bells and elevation and, while this is not a serious doctrinal infraction, the consecration bell is a salutary way to draw attention not to the moment of Christ's presence but to the Word attached to the element and the assurance that it is what Christ says it is.

14) Genuflecting towards the altar when the tabernacle is located elsewhere 
Not sure this is a Lutheran issue.
15) Holding hands during the Our Father
Not sure about this one either.  I don't think that the things that people do to feel closer during the service are necessarily bad but they do confuse warmth and personal affection for the unity that belongs to Christ and those who live in Christ by baptism and faith.  That confusion is not good.


Carl Vehse said...

Wait! What? When was the Lutheran—and specifically Missouri Synod Lutheran—use of bells and elevation either forbidden or required, and where does Holy Scripture (norma normans) or the Lutheran Confessions (norma normata) identify such forbidden (or required) use as a doctrinal infraction (serious or otherwise)?!?

Anonymous said...

I’ll bite, since these types of articles are why we read Pastoral Meanderings.

1. Lutherans rarely clap, since it is ingrained in us from birth that those who clap or wave their hands during worship are clearly enthusiasts.
2. Lutherans have either two pastors or a pastor and elder distribute communion.
3. Lutherans don’t have the option of skipping the cup when sick, so we use shot glasses.
4. Many Lutherans experimented with sharing the peace in the 1980s, until it was discovered that most Lutherans have trouble looking others directly in the eye, much less shaking hands all around.
5. Excessive socializing has never been a problem for Lutherans.
6. Lutherans don’t fast.
7. Lutherans leave their cell phones in their cars during church, as a precautionary measure to avoid the mortifying embarrassment of being the center of attention if it were to ring out loud during the worship service.
8. Unemployment is low, stocks are high, so why aren’t we giving more? And why is my mortgage/grocery/cable/car payment/insurance/health plan/lack of pension/taxes so expensive?
9. Lutherans don’t leave early from church because everyone knows it’s not only bad form, but draws attention to yourself, which is of course horrible.
10. Lutherans are allowed to take pride in three things: Luther, Bach, and great preaching.
11. Lutherans emphasize the sinfulness of all communicants. Certain pietists still monitor degrees of sin in others.
12. Most Lutheran men wear plaid short sleeved shirts, khakis and sensible brown supportive shoes from Walmart or Bass Pro, and top it off with a cell phone clipped to the waist.
13. Lutherans were not forced to give up bells and elevation. The leading Lutheran reformers abandoned elevation because that’s when Catholics knew it signaled the transubstantiation and was the part of the Mass where one venerated the sacrament. Other Lutherans retained the practice, for example Musculus in Berlin. Bells were gradually abandoned because everyone eventually realized that nobody cares about bells.
14. Lutherans bow to the altar whether the elements are on it or not.
15. Sheer enthusiasm.

William Tighe said...

"... was the part of the Mass where one venerated the sacrament."

Didn't Luther practice, defend and advocate "venerating the sacrament" during Mass (i.e., between the Verba and the consumption of the reliquiae )? Melanchthon, of course, with his brand of "receptionism" had no use for it. See, for instance:

although the date of its introduction was 1540 rather than, as I mistakenly wrote in my comment, 1560. See p. 93 here, too:

Anonymous said...

Luther defended it as adiaphora. His practice of kneeling for communion is why Lutherans still do this today. As for the Formula of Concord: “[We reject] Likewise, when it is taught that the elements or the visible species or forms of the consecrated bread and wine must be adored. However, no one, unless he be an Arian heretic, can and will deny that Christ Himself, true God and man, who is truly and essentially present in the Supper, should be adored in spirit and in truth in the true use of the same, as also in all other places, especially where His congregation is assembled.“ Wittenberg’s rejection of elevation would seem to be in response to the popular association of elevation with adoration.

It’s interesting that Eucharistic adoration has been so thoroughly eliminated from Lutheran conscience that the LCMS now frequently practices elevation as Luther intended, as “a good way to remember Christ.”