Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why we do what we do

Driving to a shut-in communion call today I passed a billboard for Faith Fellowship in Alton, IL. The billboard (of which, alas, I cannot find a picture online) included imagery of a five piece band done in the style of the successful iPod advertising campaign, something like this:


The text superimposed over the image was: Casual - Contemporary - Creative - Church....Faith Fellowship.

Nice alliteration - too bad they couldn't think of another relevant word that started with a C to describe what their fellowship was all about. That omission is apparently not a one-off.

And that is both a condemnation of themselves and their modus operandi and a warning to us. Why do we do what we do? How do we describe it? The liturgy and traditional ceremonies that accompany it are not ends in themselves - though their beauty might tempt one to treat them that way.

We follow the traditional Western Mass in the form handed to us by the Lutheran Reformers because it constantly preaches Christ to us. We insist that our pastors use this form of worship to ensure that they will bring Christ to us. We bow the head and knee to display honor to Christ. We are very uncasual to remind the people in the sanctuary that they are in the presence of Christ.

And so, on this shut-in call. . . said shut-in's son says, pointing to the altar ware in the Mass kit: "Is that gold, Pastor?" Darn straight: because these vessels are for the real and true Body and Blood of Christ. There is nothing casual about that - and it deserves our best: not our bankrupt culture's regurgitated leftovers, not Crocks and cargo pants, not glass held by aluminum trays: but kneeling, chanting, gold, and brocade - and all of it to confess Christ.

Hence - Gottesdienst.



  1. And there's more: http://www.faithfellowshiponline.com/new/kids.htm

    "If your child is an infant through age 2, you may check them into the nursery before the worship service begins. . . "

    Explain to me, again, why Lutherans want to imitate this?


  2. I'm wondering where you get a communion kit like you have. Mine is flimsy, aluminum, and is probably made of recycled Pepsi cans.

  3. Just go Google Shopping for Mass Kit.

    My brother-in-law got a very nice set reasonably priced from paxhouse.com. They are an outfit out of Mexico and produce nice, affordable stuff. I have a thurible and incense boat from them that I really like.

    Expect to spend around $300. Paxhouse has a nice set kit for $250: http://www.paxhouse.com/chalice.html


  4. Holy Cow. I followed that link you posted for the church - I like Star Trek and all, I may even be a trekker (maybe) but there would be no way I would be attracted to that series of sermons.

    Didja catch that zinger, "Have you opened your Facebook page to God as a friend?"

    At least I can wallow in my purple socks

    Bishop of Paris

  5. One person I know after driving past the new building wherein FaithFellowshipOnline exhibits its Casual-Contemporary-Creative-Crock lamented that they were stuck in an old office building. She was shocked to hear that it's brand new and they built it that way on purpose. Whoops.

  6. I might be off kilter based on the other responses here but it seems strange that you'd criticize another church based on their billboard. That's the kind of shallow judgement that Jesus warned us about.

    Let's talk about the content of a church's character, their doctrine, whether they walk the talk; but to judge their entire church by four words and a background is slightly riddiculous to me.

    They'd probably go to your church and wonder why you're singing songs that have the musical stylings of an 18th century monk. Or why everybody seems so stuffy and unapproachable.

    'Casual' speaks to the heart of the church's message that we are a chosen people, amongst other people who are looking for authenticity in people, not superficiality like playing Sunday dress-up. If Crocs make a new person feel more relaxed in a sometimes intimidating environment (in your case with your air of holiness) then I'm pretty sure Jesus would be all for it, and probably come down on you for daring to make church out to be something about anything (shoes) but Him.

    'Contemporary' probably speaks to the reality that THAT church cares about the generational approach it takes to its influence in the community.

    'Creative' should be obvious but I imagine in incorporates modern technology like powerpoint instead of an archaic slide projector.

    'Church' is great because it doesn't call itself anything but. That body acknowledges what they are. Some of the post-modern places won't even call themselves a church. They come up with some riddiculous name like "The Barn" or "Vertical".

    I'm sad when I happen upon shallow posts like these. Why would you even open your proverbial mouth. Does your post honor God or demonstrate exactly why people have such a problem with 'the church' today.

  7. Lucaso,
    You sound like a recent seminary grad, proverbially of course. I am so pleased that theologically challenged people like yourself are reading. Keep it up!
    +Optimus Prime


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