Thursday, August 04, 2005

Our Lutheran Culture

The Company of Heaven
Culture:
“a racial, religious, or social group; the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a company or corporation” from http://www.merriamwebster.com/

A couple of months ago I was at a Wal-Mart. The more I go there the more I dislike it and this morning was particularly bad. I happened to be there in the middle of one of their store “pep-rallies.”

All the employees, or most of them, were gathered together in the middle of the store under the supervision of well-dressed management. The thing that upset me the most was at the end of the meeting they all had to say a cheer for Wal-Mart. I, being the meanie and grump that I often become at Wal-Mart, found one of these well-dressed managers and told them what I thought of this meeting, how it was disrupting to my shopping experience and how I thought it was demeaning to the employees.

The manager listened to my concerns and then said with a straight face, “I’m sorry you feel that way sir, but that is the Wal-Mart culture.” I don’t know about you all, but when I go to Wal-Mart it is not to have a “cultural” experience, and I know it does not fulfill the requirements of a “cross-culture” field work module at the seminary.

The point of this story, and there is one, is that we are surrounded by cultures. Some are in odd places and are meant to force a sense of togetherness of unwilling parties. Some are at ball parks, some revolve around sexual perversions, etc. Some cultures are formed by outside influences and some are developed in opposition outside forces.

So, what kind of culture do Christians have? In particular, what kind of culture do we have as confessional Lutherans in the Missouri Synod? I think a strong sense of culture is lacking in our church.

We have dropped the ball somewhere in teaching our people “what this means.” Why do pastors wear what they wear? Why do we value so highly the Holy Supper of our Lord? Why do we baptize infants? “Pastor, what makes us different from the (insert denomination, or, sadly, other non-Christian religion here), aren’t we all trying to get to the same place? Why can’t we all get along? Does Jesus really like all this division?”

No, Jesus doesn’t like it when Satan lures people from Him and the true Church, but He doesn’t like it when Satan uses this argument to tear down His Church either.

So, what are we to do? We are Lutherans. We are a liturgical, sacramental church. We have the most orthodox doctrines. So why are we so afraid to be Lutheran? Why do we want to water things down and undercut our heritage? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

What am I going to do about it, as a Vicar? I am certain that the key is in education. We need to teach people how to be, how to live, as liturgical, sacramental Christians. They do not need to know how to find purpose in 40 days, or how to be happy and healthy with Jesus, or how to be better people. If we emphasize our heritage, our traditions, our rich biblical liturgies, then the sanctification will grow. When people instinctually say the “Our Father” in times of anxiety, when they confess the Creeds, when they sing the Offertory, the Sanctus or whatever while they work and exercise, then they will be steeped in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit will be there working faith and holiness in there hearts.
+ + +
Holy Trinity, bind and unite us in the culture of Your Word and with the gifts of Your Sacraments, with the center being the Cross of Christ, through which You have redeemed us and made us Your own.
In the Name of the Father, the Son + and the Holy Spirit
Amen.

5 comments:

Andrew said...

Great post. I think you are right there are lots of members of our church who don't really understand what is happening as it pertains to certain traditions or why we do things the way we do. If we can educate them it is certainly the largest step toward improving the state of the church and its followers.

Jim Roemke said...

We need to reestablish the Christian culture as a unique thing, not just "christianized" secular cultures and things. "Why be preverted and follow the flesh, rather, be converted and let it follow thee." (St. Augustine).
We do not and cannot "make" anything Christian, but we are made, or recreated, as Christian by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Preachrboy said...

So will you, or will you not be requiring Wal-mart style pep-rallies of your vicarage congregation?

Gimme an L!
Gimme a C!
Gimme an M!
Gimme an S!

What does it spellLLL!!?????

Jim Roemke said...

No Pep Rallies!! We have something much better-Worship Services!!

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