Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Questions About Ceremony

by Larry Beane

Rev. George Borghardt posed several outstanding questions as a comment on the post "How A New Pastor Should Add Ceremonies".

I think they deserve a separate post, as they are an opportunity to dispel some false information and clarify things a bit (of course, I'm speaking only for myself here, and I fully expect to have lively discussion and disagreement - which can indeed be a good and healthy thing).

So, thank you, George, and let me have a shot at your questions...

1. Why did it seem necessary to add without teaching genuflecting, chanting, elevation, and chasubles? I have no problems theologically with these four, so no 4094-character posts about how wonderful genuflecting, chanting, elevation, and chasubles are. We get it. Some of us have never found a ceremony that we didn't like. But, of all the ceremonies, why would we be tempted to add these four right away?

There is a very simple answer that I thought had been made clear: these are among those ceremonies that the pastor does himself at the altar.

Hence, they are the easiest to implement. It is much easier for a pastor to cross himself as part of his personal piety than to convince (or God forbid, try to compel) others to do so. Genuflecting, chanting, and elevation (as well as any other acts of piety, such as crossing himself or kissing the altar) are things he does unilaterally as the celebrant. A chasuble is something he wears as the celebrant.

Wearing a chasuble is far easier to implement than, say, trying to get women in the congregation to dress modestly. That requires much more hard work and tact. But again, a chasuble is part of the pastor's vesture. Everyone expects him to wear a different "uniform" than the men in the pews. It is not necessarily that big a deal - especially when the (first) chasuble is very plain.

This is not to say that restoring these ceremonies will always be easy in every time and place. Not at all. But, on the whole, I believe it is easier to implement something that is strictly within the pastor's domain (such as the celebrant genuflecting during "and was made man" versus trying to get everyone else to do it).

The pastor, as the leader of the celebration, as the shepherd and overseer, is in a position to set the tone of piety in the service. I think it would be a grave mistake, for example, to go hat in hand and ask permission to make the sign of the cross. I would say almost without exception, the Nike's Rule ("Just do it!") applies when it comes to the sign of the cross.

And as far as chanting goes, it's even in the hymnal that way. The people in the pews can see the musical notation (at least in DS3 in LSB).

It also bears repeating that refraining from all of these things is also a form of ceremony. Not chanting, not genuflecting, not elevating, and not wearing a chasuble is equally a form of ceremony - which incidentally is much more in line with the liturgy of the Lord's Supper as celebrated by Baptists, Pentecostals, and non-denominational churches. One could just as easily ask a pastor who refrains from these things why he is implementing Baptist rubrics of ceremony in a Lutheran church. For what do Baptist ceremonies "teach the people"?

2. Are those parishes and pastors who have the big four ceremonies more faithful than pastors and parishes who don't?

I think you already know the answer to this question. It is a red herring. No, no, and no. This has already been emphatically stated, and the question is itself a form of the "have you quit beating your wife" trick of rhetoric. This isn't about comparing whether my dad can beat up your dad, it is about trying to restore a sacramental piety in a church body whose practice often does not match what it confesses on paper. These particular four ceremonies (being the pastor's particular ceremonial) may well be easier to implement than others, as covered in question 1.

3. There seemed to be a bit of a tone of disdain toward the thought of teaching before doing. I know there was a bit of mocking done by Father Larry in one of his posts when it came to adding a chasuble. Did I read this wrongly? Can we be honest with ourselves that we would rather do than teach?

It would help if you were more specific about this "mocking." Since I don't know what you're talking about, I don't know if you read it wrongly. Teaching and doing go hand in hand. The Lord told us to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. And in that case, we typically*do* first (baptize) and *teach* (catechize) later. We have children memorize prayers long before they know what they actually mean. Most children have chanted "ellemenopee" before being taught that these are actually five different pictographical representations of sounds used lingusitically for the purpose of representing vocables graphically. Imagine if we taught that first, and then and only then had the kids actually sing the ABC song.

Sometimes, the teaching and the action are wrapped up together - as our confessions say, ceremonies are "to teach the people." Ceremonies *are* teaching. Our confessions don't argue that we need to separate catechesis from practice, that we need to teach and only then then implement ceremonies. Now sometimes that's the best way - indeed, it may be most often the best way. But I disagree that it is *always* the best way.

4. The plastic individual cups here are described as an "abomination." (like homosexuality?). Understood! I'm not a big fan of individual cups (even the little silver chalices at my parish), but is such inflammatory language helpful? Should we use such inflammatory words in a thread attempting to teach candidates and pastors who might be called to parishes with such things? Would it better to teach first? It is still the blood of Christ when it is in a plastic cup, correct? That's the abomination, right?

Some would argue that we should tone down our teaching on homosexuality for the very same reason (even though the practice is indeed called abominable - at least in the KJV).

I think the shotties are rightly called abonimable. Because of the shot glasses, the blood of Jesus is profaned. The practice in my congregation used to be to pitch the used cups, blood and all, in the garbage. This did not happen when we exclusively used the chalice. Furthermore, the little glasses spill on the communion rail and on the floor. It happens all the time. My wife made a horrifying discovery that there is a gummy residue, covered in crud, under our communion rail from years of our Lord's blood dripping over the communion rail - all thanks to the individualist jiggers. How can one *not* find this an abomination?

Of course it *is* the blood of Christ in the jigger. That's the whole problem! If it were only symbolic wine or a shot of tequila, who cares? You could put it in a dixie cup or a test tube. But this *is* the blood of Christ. That's why it is so horrifying. It is yet another practice we adopted from other church bodies: those who deny the Lord's presence. That's another reason why it is an abomination. Sometimes the apologists for the shooters argue "It's still the blood of Christ!" as though anyone has ever said otherwise. That's not just a red herring, but perhaps even a scarlet mackarel.

The shooters are a poor confession. If you bought your wife a diamond and set it in a plastic ring from a crackerjack box, it would confuse people (remember, ceremonies "teach the people"). Folks would, no doubt, look at it and start to wonder whether it is a real diamond or not. They might even think it is a joke rather than something of great meaning.

Furthermore, Jesus is the one who made the sudden change to the ceremony. He is the one who abolished individual cups and opted instead for the chalice. The Passover was originally celebrated with each person having his own cup of wine. But on Maundy Thursday, our Lord took *one* cup, saing "Take this (singular) all of you (plural) and drink (plural) from it (singular)." He did not leave us an explanation for the sudden change in rubrics. He only said: "Do this in memory of me." We have no evidence to suggest Pastor Jesus ran a year's worth of articles in the congregational newsletter, cleared it with His circuit counselor, or ran it by the voters assembly. He did not get CPH to publish it in the hymnal first, or vet it by the doctrinal review committee or the CTCR. Worst of all, He did not take into account the weaker brethren. He just barged in like a Gottesdienst editor in a china shop.

Nobody claims that our use of many cups nullifies the substance of the sacrament, but it is odd that we took the Lord's change in ceremony and undid it - for the reason that we just like it better our way. Think about how silly it is grammatically to consecrate using our Lord's words meant specifically for a singular chalice, and applying those words to a tray full of knock-em-backs.

So, yes, I hate the cups. I believe they are an abomination. They are a tool of Satan to mock our blessed Lord and to effect desecration of His holy blood. Screwtape cannot get rid of the Lord's blood, but he sure can do things to desecrate it all with the cooperation of the church's pastors. Under the circs, that's quite a coup for the devil.

But you will be pleased to know that my congregaton uses them. I consecrated a tray of them this evening. I do it because of the obvious reason: they have become so entrenched that it would "offend the weaker brother" to change that quickly. There needs to be an exit strategy. Whereas I never had a peep about the above-mentioned ceremonies, I know there would be a riot if I got rid of the cups. But this is not to say there aren't ways to move things in a good direction. I have gotten some individuals weaned off of the individualist cups.

But, for churches that have no chalice at all, a pastor might, say, introduce it by simply using it at the altar and only drinking out of it himself. Every pastor has to use his own judgment, but to say "never intriduce anything without a long period of teaching" is just something I'm not prepared to say. In fact, the long period of acceptance of some practices might even be interpreted as approval, and only serve to calcify a sense of irreverence. Sometimes the right thing to do is to move with haste. It is a judgment call. It worked out well for me regarding the ceremonial of the celebrant. It can be done.

In fact, some things *must* be done right away. As soon as I become sole pastor, the throwing of the Lord's blood in the garbage ceased - immediately. I did not let the altar guild continue to desecrate the Lord's blood until I could arrange a seminar about it. Rather, I implemented the change and explained it later. They were not only fine with it, but appreciated it.

Reverence is important, and pastors can indeed use ceremonies "to teach the people" - especially when those ceremonies are things that don't require the people themselves to do anything different. The pastor sets the tone. If he wants reverence, it starts with how he conducts himself at the altar.

5. Do we realize that we trouble the weaker brethren with stuff like this? Again, I'm pointing to the brother who apologized for not genuflecting. Did he sin by not genuflecting? What would you brothers have said to him? And what of our weaker brothers who are concerned that their parishes don't measure up to well... genuflecting, chanting, elevation, and chasubles?

I would tell him he's not sinning by not genuflecting. Don't we have to tell people such things from time to time: "You did nothing wrong, you are not to blame for this"? I don't think we should all say Mass like Baptists out of fear that some pastor might think he is sinning if we genuflect. And I would also tell him that if he wants to elevate the level of reverence in his celebration, I would encourage him to do that. We need to stop worrying about whether we "measure up." The focus needs to be on our Lord. And when that truly happens, the reverence will follow. Again, nobody has ever, ever, ever said that a pastor sins by not genuflecting. We will soon have enough herring to have a fish fry - and we're still quite a ways to Friday. ;-)

6. Finally, did anyone else have the desire that the people would just follow our lead as pastors rather than test us with the Word? Again, I saw evidence of this in a few of the posts (I’d rather not look over the whole thread) and so I’m going to ask in order that a proper “no” answer can be confessed. Doesn’t our authority flow from the external Word?

This sounds like more fish. It's hard to address "evidence" that isn't even sited. Again, I don't really know what you mean here. But as for our authority as pastors, of course, our authority flows from the Word (who has said otherwise?) - which He extends to us through our ordination and vocation. It flows from our Lord breathing on the disciples and granting them the Holy Spirit, giving them authority to forgive sins, to serve as overseers and elders, to be shepherds. So, we should use that authority - not in an overbearing way, but neither should we be handwringing ninnies so consumed with the fear of offending someone that we drag out bad practice (or even mediocre practice that gives the impression that we're basically Baptists) for years when it could be fixed sooner.

There is a difference between "testing us by the Word" and refusing to "obey your leaders and submit to them" (Heb 13:17). The polity in the LCMS does encourage anticlericalism. I once heard a layman bragging about how he greeted a newly elected president of the LCMS by walking up to him at the convention and saying: "You better stay in line or I will kick your butt." This kind of topsy-turvy negation of Hebrews 13:17 has resulted in faithful pastors being run off by laypeople who have been taught for generations that they hold the keys and the pastor is the guy they "hire" to do the "job" as they tell him to do it. And the pastor, the outsider, better just keep everything the same or we'll yank his health insurance, or worse.

If a pastor is not doing his work, if he is leading a manifestly immoral life, or if he is teaching demonstrably false doctrine, he can, and should be, deposed. But if he is chanting and the chairman of the board of elders doesn't like it, or if the head of the LWML doesn't like his chasuble, or if the youth leader doesn't like the traditional liturgy, or if the principal thinks the sign of the cross is "too catholic" - none of these are reasons to remove him. For crossing onself and refraining from doing so are both ceremonies. The pastor has to decide which ceremony he will do at the altar. The reality is that he may well have to submit to the Baptist rubrics if he is to stay there. But nevertheless, the fact that pastors can be forced to "bend the knee" (as it were) by being compelled to not "bend the knee" at the altar as he is celebrating is to mock the very definition of what the word "pastor" means. We opened Pandora's Box by mixing democracy into our polity. Sometimes, the term "weaker brother" is just a euphemism for "bully."

But that's certainly another discussion for another day.

I hope this clarifies at least where I stand on your questions, George (and thanks for posing these questions - again, I find them very helpful and constructive for the most part). And maybe this will spur further threads of discussion.


  1. Fr. Larry,

    Upon reading your words hear, this rubic came to mind:

    his verbis dictis, chorus respondet triplicem Amen.


  2. I'd like to offer a comment on point 4. I grew up in a church where communion was served in individual cups. In college, my church used both the chalice and the cups (cups went by, followed by the chalice). Since I liked the symbolism of unity better, I immediately started ignoring the cups. Such was not the case for my younger brother, who prefered the "more hygenic" option. The constant presence of the more traditional format, however, caused him to reconsider. He realized that he had no good reason for spurning the chalice and the next Sunday switched after years of communing out of the small cups. No one argued him into doing it; he simply compared what he believed about the sacrament to his practice receiving it, and realized they didn't match up.

    Admittedly the particular church I attended that used both was not trying to teach people why one way was better than another. I suspect the pastors were relatively indifferent to the distinction. My point in sharing the story is that even the presence of the chalice, and forcing people to choose on a weekly basis will encourage people to examine their own practice, and should avoid offending anyone (except maybe the altar guild).

    Although as a distribution technique this is certainly less ideal than relying on the chalice alone, I would encourage pastors who would like to introduce the chalice to a resistent congregation at least consider this as an option. With practice, at least in my opinion, we are dealing with good, and less good... sometimes even decidedly less good. Try not to consider things "bad" unless they are truly horrible. Throwing the mini cups in the trash can with the Lord's blood still in them is bad; giving the laity the ability to choose something better is good.

    I write this with some reservation because I hate the attitude so rampent in American Christianity that worship needs to "feel right for you." In this case, however, the small cups do contain the Lord's blood, thus receiving from them is good, if not as good a practice as having the whole congregation partake from the same cup.

  3. Larry,

    You're spot on in your answers to George's valid questions. I raised some eyebrows with the introduction of the chasuble and a consecration host, but I still deal with plastic jiggers.

    One thing that has helped me in dealing with objections has been to remember that when some sheep cling to a false or undesirable practice and lack of sacramental piety, it is possible that a shepherd has taught them to be that way. Questions about changes I've made often tell me that the pastors didn't do things this way in the past.

    I agree further that while teaching is part of our call, I've found that some folks refuse to be taught. The people who scowl and growl about closed Communion, the crucifix, and chanting are those who don't go to Bible class (and sadly, don't read bulletin inserts either). "Weaker brethren" are often not as weak as they are obstinate. There will always be those who think that the pastor chants and dons the chasuble because he wants to show off, and that his insistence on closed Communion just shows that he's hard-headed (I know I've mentioned things not handled in the post, but in my experience they're linked to the issues at hand). Those who believe our Confessions will give thanks, but those who view themselves as supervisors of their minister ("I pay your salary") will be infuriated--not because you're contradicting Scripture, but because they don't personally like it.

    Thanks for the post!

  4. Fr. Hollywood,

    Just a comment on your remark Jesus "made the sudden change to the ceremony" by using a common cup instead of individual cups.

    During the Passover meal each participant, even the children and old men, has his own wine glass. Four times during the meal they drink wine form these individual cups. They do not drink by sipping it, but by consuning the entire contents of the cup.

    At the end of the meal (after supper), the final cup of wine is the cup of Elijah. This cup is shared by all at the meal. It is the common cup.

    Therefore, Jesus did not suddenly change the ceremony (eliminate individual cups); but completed the ceremony by blessing the Cup of Elijah (the common cup) and distributing it to the desciples.

  5. Dear Deacon:

    I remember Fred Einstein had written about that some time back. That does sound familiar. Thanks for the correction!

    That being the case, the chalice had actually been established from the days of Moses. But our Lord did make a sudden change in the rubrics in the sense that He added the verba and completed the Passover into the Lord's Supper with ceremony that was not part of the ritual before Maundy Thursday.

  6. Excellent post, Father Hollywood. I had a rather long reply to the previous post that didn't post last night. Your post has said a good deal of what I wanted to say.

  7. How does a chanting and wearing a chausuble teach Christ crucified? Isn't that standard by which to judge?

    And individual cups are an abomination! What's next, shall we calculate how many molecules of the host are separated by taking it in hand?

    I'll not have my conscience bound by such pietism and will feel no guilt as I continue to take the blood in a small cup and host in hand as witness to Christian freedom.

    The attitude that failure to observe particular ceremonial practices are sinful (or abomination!) is as wrongheaded as the church growthers appeals to emotion. Teach Christian freedom in Christ Crucified, which is doctrine, instead of rubrics, vestments, and ceremony, which might point to Christ, but only if they are understood and embraced in love for Christ, not in obligation.

  8. Chanting is an elevated form of speaking that has, historically, honored the Word of God, in particular the Word of Christ. Honoring the Word of Christ is a way of lifting up the Crucified as the One who has the Words of eternal life. Is it necessary? No. Is it meet, right and salutary? Yes.

    Chasubles cover the celebrant in order to adorn the One who is both host and meal. As the minister of the Sacrament speaks not his own word, but Christ's, and gives not his own gifts, but Christ's, it is appropriate to cover up his own personality and style. It is the office, not the person, who is adorned; no less appropriately than paraments on the altar.

    We ought to be as careful as we are able with all of the elements, since our Lord speaks concerning them: This is My Body. This is My Blood. Knowingly casting the Body or Blood of Christ into the trash is, at best, inappropriate. That's saying it gently.

    No one here has suggested the teaching of vestments or man-made ceremonies as a matter of obligation. Continuing to make such an accusation is hardly a use of Christian freedom in the love of Christ.

  9. Dear Boaz:

    You are 100% right that "we preach Christ crucified" and that He can (and most certainly is!) preached with no chanting, no chasuble, and in fact can (and is!) even proclaimed with no altar, no pulpit, no church building, and even without the Lord's Supper at all.

    But these things confess the Crucified One is *present.* This is exactly why no Baptist pastor would ever chant the words of Christ or wear a chasuble. He believes Jesus is not physically there.

    The little jiggers, for whatever degree of satisfaction you get from them as an expression of Christian liberty, simply do result in the Lord's blood being desecrated. And while you can be very careful and reverent in how you handle them, they simply result in more spills. This isn't just about the opinion and feelings of the communicant, for there are more folks involved than just you. One cup is easier to keep from spilling than 40 - for the pastor, for any assistants, for communicants, and for the altar guild. I speak from experience, as the Lord's blood is profaned in my church all the time. Maybe this is why the Lord's words read the way they do (read them again paying attention to singular and plural), and why He didn't introduce jiggers Himself. Sometimes God really does know what He's doing when He establishes something a certain way. :-)

    It is not the ceremonial of the jigger that makes me call them abominable, but rather the way they lead directly to unbelief (the blood being poured in the garbage) and desecration (the Lord's blood trampled on the floor). And look at where the focus is when it comes to the individual cup - not surprisingly, *on the individual.* It almost becomes the Individual's Supper instead of the Lord's.

    Doctrine, rubrics, and ceremony all point to Christ. Our problem in the LCMS is that our doctrine is often out of whack from our rubrics - which is another way of saying we don't practice what we preach.

    And you are terribly mistaken to equate reverence with Pietism. In fact, Pietism has historically caused the Supper to be celebrated infrequently and with a bare minimum of ceremony - almost as if there were something embarrassing or shameful about belief in the miraculous and supernatural. Pietism focuses on the inner feeling instead of the objective Presence.

    Ceremonies are nonverbal confessions of that objective and very Real Presence.

  10. What is your take on using a pouring chalice? Communicants pick up their glass cups on the way up to the rail and the celebrant fills them from the chalice.

  11. Josh,

    Even more unnecessary chances of spilling and desecration with the pouring chalice. At least if one pours the wine before consecration anything spilt in the pouring is mere wine. . .


  12. Josh (and Heath),

    We actually went to a pouring chalice here a little over a year ago, but we don't pour the Blood into the glass cups held by the people. Here's what we do:

    We put 20 empty individual glass cups in the individual tray and place it on the credence table before Service. The tray is not brought over to the altar until after the Consecration. I then use the pouring chalice to fill up however many I believe we need for that Service (usually around 10-12, as the vast majority here partake from the chalice). The pouring is controlled by me and spillage is a very rare occurrence (actually, I only spilled a little bit the first time I did it, as I had the chalice too full - but, ever since figuring that out, spillage has not been an issue). After the few people partake using the individual glasses, they put them right back into the tray, which has many empty slots. After the Distribution is concluded, the contents of the individual glasses that haven't been drunk are poured back into the chalice, the remaining elements are consumed and all the vessels, including each individual glass, is reverently cleansed.

    I know it's not the best practice in the world, but it has worked well for us. An added advantage to this way of using the pouring chalice is that everyone actually drinks from the One Cup, since the individual glasses are filled from that One Cup after the Consecration, which does a better job of confessing the unity we share at Christ's Table than filling the glasses up before the Service would do, imho. Plus, it warms my heart to think that a few of the people who are so adamant about retaining the individual glasses are actually partaking from the same Cup, even if they don't realize it. :)

    Pr. Messer

  13. Our desire for control (what Augustine called the lust for domination) causes the simplest of things (here's a cup, now drink from it) into a complicated dance of pouring dozens of little cups.

    Even with the pouring chalice, you still have dozens of cups of the reliquiae of the holy blood of Christ to clean up. Instead of having the pastor holding the chalice while parishioners sip from it, you have each individual handling the cups (and maybe even spilling them or dropping them). We've turned the most basic of all human actions, drinking out of a cup, into a Rube Goldberg system of engineering.

    And for what? This was not a problem for nineteen centuries. It is not a problem in other places around the world.

    And it is all because people want it their way and not God's way. At its root, it demonstrates a lack of trust in God - whether over the non-existent issue of germs, or the idea that communing from the same cup is too communitarian for us individualists (sadly, there were some Southern (and I suspect some Northern ones as well) churches after integration that went to the shooters to prevent the races from having to drink from the same cup).

    This is an issue of control and a desire not to submit - whether we fill the jiggers with a squeeze bottle before the service or a nice golden pitcher (which is really what a "pouring chalice" is) during the service.

    Our sinful nature is "passive aggressive" against God, and we, like toddlers, will seek out even symbolic ways to rebel and establish ourselves as "in control."

    Communing from the jigger is a smaller version of Napoleon taking the crown from the pope and crowning himself. Instead of being communed by the pastor from a communal cup, we want to commune ourselves from our own cup. Anyone who has little children can see what is happening here.

    Once again, read the Words of Institution. They aren't rocket science. For a people who toss around the slogan "sola scriptura" we sure like to find ways around the clear Word of God.

    And I'm not advocating suddenly abolishing the cups. We inherited them. We need to be sensitive about them. But at the same time, we need to say why they're bad before we can even begin to rid ourselves of them.

  14. Larry,

    Tell us how you really feel, dude! :)

    Seriously, I'm with you. I can't stand the individual cups and am saddened that Lutherans ever allowed this Reformed innovation to become customary in our congregations.

    For my part, I began teaching the people about what the Sacrament is from day one in the parish I'm serving. And, from day one, I never held back letting them know that I'm not a big fan of the individual cups. I didn't rant and rave about it, but patiently and lovingly explained my objections to them whenever the opportunity presented itself.

    That catechesis did work, for when I arrived about 75% were partaking from the then-plastic individual cups. After about a year, that stat was just the opposite, as about 75% were partaking from the chalice.

    And, it was the catechesis on this issue that led the elders and many members within our congregation to begin asking, "Can't we just get rid of the individual cups?"

    So, after about a year of my being here, we actually had a serious discussion about the possibility of getting rid of the individual cups. Guess who opposed this idea? About a dozen or so people who NEVER attend Bible Study and really have shown no desire to be catechized about anything (which goes to Keith's point above, namely that it is impossible to catechize people who have no desire to be catechized).

    Long story short, we decided to go with the compromise I described above, which is a far more faithful practice than what we were doing, even though it still has plenty of flaws.

    But, ever since we went this way, I have second guessed myself and wondered if I did the right thing, because the reality is that the people who were so vehemently opposed to our elimination of the individual cups continue to be thorns in the side of our otherwise united and blessed congregation. You would thank these people would be thankful that we didn't get rid of the individual cups, but they continue to hold a grudge because we ever brought it up in the first place, and they find other things for which to be upset.

    So, in retrospect, I wonder if we shouldn't have just eliminated the individual cups and let the chips fall where they may have. I know that sounds awful, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that thought has crossed my mind many times.

    But, alas, we didn't do that. We went with what we thought was a faithful compromise, for the sake of the weaker brethren, who, for whatever reason, can't bring themselves to drink from the chalice, even though, as you rightly point out, this wasn't a problem for 19 centuries in the Church.

    And, I am fairly confident that we will eventually get to where we want to be with our Communion practice. I don't know when or how, but something tells me that someday we won't have the individual cups to worry about anymore. So, the step we took was just that - a step that will hopefully lead to another step in the future. We'll see.

    In Christ,

  15. Dear Tom:

    That is indeed a step in the right direction, absolutely! I don't think it fixes the problem, but this is not a problem that can be fixed in one fell swoop.

    I'm in a very similar boat. We still use the CPH plastic disposables (though they are cleansed thoroughly before being trashed), but I did recently find the old glass jiggers. I go back and forth about whether or not to go to back to the glass.

    On the one hand, they will not go in the garbage, but on the other hand, does the glass only serve to further entrench the notion that there is something desirable about the shooters?

    I know Zion - Fort Wayne (where I did field work and where I was ordained) did change to a pouring chalice as an intermediate phase before successfully going full-chalice (at the time I was ordained, there were about three or four people who were adamant that they would not drink out of the chalice, and they were "grandfathered" by being permitted to commune from the shot glass.

    Our predecessors really stuck us with an albatross in their desire to look like their Methodist neighbors. In my own parish, we had no jiggers until the 1980s AIDS scare - a completely ridiculous reason, but one that has spawned a whole generation of people who see shot glasses as normal.

    Unlike the pastor's expression of piety at the altar, the issue of individualist glasses is not something that a new pastor can move quickly on. I know of no cases where a guy came out of sem and in one fell swoop, got rid of them.

  16. We know that guiding our congregations toward the chalice is met with resistance, regardless of reason (the bogus hygiene issue, for one). I wonder whether the move to the metal trays and plastic cups was resisted by the folks who'd been raised on the chalice. Anyone have an account of this?

    This Sunday is Confirmation Sunday here. My method in moving toward a common cup has been to offer only the chalice to the catechumens at their first Communion. So far, all have stuck with it, and in one instance, a girl's family switched to it as well. And one older gentleman began to take the chalice because his hands were getting too shaky. For the most part, though, change will come gradually through Confirmation of chalice takers and burial of the shot glass users.

  17. Keith,

    I don't know how things went elsewhere, but I know that there was great resistance to the introduction of individual cups here in the mid-80s. In fact, it actually resulted in a number of people leaving the congregation, many of whom returned after the pastor who brought the individual cups in left. But, by that time, the practice was already well established.

    The shame of this is that the pastor who was serving here at that time forced this innovation on the people. They didn't ask for it - the vast majority were vehemently opposed to it. But, he proceeded with his agenda anyway, causing a great conflict to ensue.

    In looking through the council, elders, and voters minutes during that time period, there were very few pastor's reports that didn't include information on some "church growth" or "evangelism" seminar he had attended. It is quite evident where this pastor was coming from.

    But, get this - this is classic! - this pastor, after he left here (in the midst of great conflict), eventually left the synod and was serving for a while as a pastor of a non-denom. congregation. I don't know where he is now, or what he's doing, but he hasn't been on the LCMS roster for over 20 years.

    So, the parish I'm serving has the individual cups because they were forced on the congregation by a guy who obviously wasn't a Lutheran. Great stuff! :)

  18. Thank you, Tom. I have a hunch that there are other congregations that suffered the same.

    I've heard much recently about the 80s AIDS scare in introducing individual cups, but I've previously heard the lore of them becoming a necessity after churches began using pasteurized grape juice (thank you, Mr. Welch!). Is there any validity to this version?

    I believe the tray set here was memorialized in the 1950s (there's little in our sanctuary without someone's name on an affixed plaque), but I'm unaware of grape juice ever being used. But as we've witnessed in recent weeks, it doesn't take much to get the whole world into crazed hysteria over diseases. Who knows? It could be that my catechumens are the only members who've been told that you don't spread germs by taking the chalice. All it takes is one alarmist.

  19. I cannot help but refer to the great theologian J. S. Bach. "What God ordains is always good.... No poison can be in the cup that my Physician sends me."

    When I look back to when I first joined my current congregation, a common cup was used for the consecration; but individual cups were use to commune the congregation. The pastor would commune himself from the calice. The other communicants were not given the option to receive from the chalice. The most curious thing was that, at the dismissal from the rail, the pastor would pick up the (empty) chalice and hold while he dismissed the table.

    When the new pastor arrived, my first question to him was "will you restore the chalice to the people who desire it?" The answer was "Yes!" It is curious to note that once the chalice was restored, 50% of those who took the jiggers returned to the common cup.

    As I posted on another blog, Our Lord specifically consecrated the "Cup of Elijah" at the end of the Sedar as the vehicle of His Blood. This was the common cup, shared by all, at the conclusian of the Passover Meal.

    In the same way, the sharing of the Common bread (the first matzo) broken and distributed, at the beginning of the meal, among all at the table, was a participation in the one (common) bread. St.Paul had a few things to say in this regard.

    Only one of our members commented on a "study" that counted the number of microbed in the common cup, as opposed to the individual cups. Again, see J. S. Bach.

    And all of this comes from the mind of one who received his First Communion from a via a jigger (that I was told to keep as a token of my 1st Communion - without being properly cleansed.

    Rev. Fathers and Brothers, keep fighting the good fight. I am willing to do my part, also.

  20. "At the end of the meal (after supper), the final cup of wine is the cup of Elijah. This cup is shared by all at the meal. It is the common cup."

    Is there a reference for this?


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