Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Maybe I am too picky. . .

As I was looking at photos posted on social media of Christmas celebrations, I encountered one with a blue altar covering (not quite a parament but more like a blanket complete with yarn fringe just laid upon the altar as if it were a bed after someone had just gotten up).  Then this Roman Catholic photo showed the celebrant with was a very reddish version of purple chasuble and on the two assisting priests in vestments of a bluer purple.  On top of it all were two other priests in white chasubles.  It ended up looking rather comical.  I know.  I am being too picky.  But the end result was that the whole thing looked like it had been hastily thrown together as if you were planning on being alone and some folks showed up at your door expecting a holiday feast.

I guess we should be thankful they were vested and used what might have been the best they had (I am trying to be charitable here).  My point in all of this is that we often dress the holiday tables of our family celebrations with more care and concern than we dress the altar or the clergy.  Of course I am spoiled.  My wife sets a marvelous table.  It is a feast for the eye before the food is even placed upon it.  This is what ought to be happening on Sunday morning.  Before the table is prepared for the Supper of our Lord, the altar should be a feast for the eye.  Honestly, it does not cost that much to put things together well.  What is required more than money is attention.

The chancel should be a feast for the eye with at least the same level of attention given to it as you would a festive celebration in your home.  This means some thought to it all.  Reverence is not making much out of little but showing attention to detail because it is the Lord's altar and the focus of the congregation's attention in prayer and prayer and from it is bestowed the richest gifts known on earth in the body and blood of our Lord.  So take some care when you prepare the altar for Sunday morning.  Pastors, take some care when you vest.  These things are either distractions from what is going on there or they are means to appreciate even more the significance of all that the Lord is doing in our midst through His Word and Sacrament.   While the example is Roman, I could have just as easily picked on Episcopalians or Lutherans.  This whole thing is about things that matter more when you get them wrong than they do when you get them right. 

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