Friday, June 02, 2006

On incense, chanting, bowing, and other things "Taboo"

Why are these things taboo in most mainstream, contemporary Lutheran circles? We have had it instilled in our collective psyche from the first moment the hammer hit the nail at Wittenberg that we were possibly wrong. Then, as the peasants threatened to tear the world apart, we got that feeling even more strongly. And all the time we question and second guess ourselves. Did we go far enough? Can we really do what we have done? Is it ok to put the Bishop on a boat and send him across the Mississippi?

We have a lot of fears in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Fears of being “too Catholic.” Fears of not being “relevant.” Fears of being “too evangelical.” Fears that we somehow are not right, even though we know we are.

We did not leave the Catholic Church, we reformed her. By remaining true to the Gospel and standing up to Satan and his lies, we have been given the mantle of the Catholic Church. There are many things that did not need reforming. Liturgical worship was and is a blessing. The use of incense and other tools to aid us in attaining a reverent and awe-filled attitude in the presence of the Living God are blessings. Making the sign of the cross as a remembrance of one’s baptism is a blessing. Bowing out of respect and awe for the holiness of God as He gives us His holy Body and Blood are a natural and healthy response.

So, my Lutheran brethren (and sisteren!), stop looking over your shoulder to see what all the other “reform” minded people are doing. Be Lutheran! Be Evangelical! Be Catholic! Be the Church! Be a beacon of the most precious and beautiful of all of God’s gifts: The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ. (And don’t worry about the capital letters!)


Anonymous said...

Hmm... That's funny.

I was sitting on a front porch the other day, about one mile south of a Lutheran Seminary, at about 1:00 in the morning, when a friend and I had just finished a nice cigar. We decided to top the night off with a little prayer. So, we opened up our monastic office books (from a Lutheran monastery—of course), lit the incense, and began to chant Compline (gregorian chant--of course). Wouldn’t you know that by the end of the office, our porch had other curious people from off the street? We had some great conversations about the Gospel.

Go figure... it was so “irrelevant” and very much “too catholic.” That stuff never works...

Jim Roemke said...

I'm a little confused by your post. Is it meant to be mocking or to affirm some point or something else altogether? Since I don't know who you are, and since the written word does not easily lend itself to sarcasm, I'm really stumped.

Anonymous said...

I'm affirming you, but it is sarcastic. My experience has been very similar to yours. On vicarage, my supervisor and I both wore collars and this often helped rather than hindered.

My friend and I were just "doing our thing" and people from the neighborhood were really curious. It was great.

Jim Roemke said...

So, do I perchance know you? Might we have shared the same supervisor? Might we attend the same esteemed seminary? Might you soon to be an ordained servant of the Lord?

Anonymous said...

Reverend Sir,

That was beautifully said. It was never Martin Luther's intention that the historic and scripturally based elements of liturgy should be discarded, as I believe the Augsburg Confession and certain other things made clear. For Lutheranism to adopt such practices today is simply a recovery of the sacred. The full Eucharistic vestments, the red lamp suspended over the altar, the incense and bells and all the other trappings give glory to God and elevate one's heart and mind to supernatural realities.

Thank you.