Monday, February 7, 2011

Hands off, Pastor

Dear Pastor,

Please, for the love of God's people and all things holy, stop writing your own liturgies. The results are often embarrassing, always sectarian, and almost all of the time just a chance for you to beat your hobby horses to death. As an example of all of the above I enclose a copy of the preparatory rite (wait: best not to call it a rite, as you will see) from a recent Nebraska District Pastors' Conference.

Please stop; please.

Agnus T. Sheep, parishioner


  1. This is actually one of the better examples of a disposable liturgy that I have had the displeasure of reading (and I say this as a member of a congregation whose pastor either changes or rewrites the liturgy on a weekly basis). I have always disliked the 12-page bulletin liturgies that are written for special occasions (Midweek services, Christmas, Easter, other festivals, etc.) - and this was even before I started to understand the Confessions and our heritage as the Church Catholic. I wish more of my fellow laymen would forward similar letters to our congregational leaders, but I won't hold my breath in anticipation.

  2. I would bet that this passed Sin-Odd-Ick-All "Doctrinal Review" ... or WOULD have, had it been sent in.

  3. Sounds more like a political document than a rite.

    Oops, guess I won't be called to Nebraska!

  4. Kind of makes me glad I no longer attend pastors' conferences in the Nebraska District.

  5. This would be so embarrassing if Jesus had actually instituted a ritual.


    We Christians used to bind God's Word and the Missal in beautiful books with jeweled covers so that they would be faithfully handed down without being corrupted or edited, and we would kiss them before reading from them.

    Now we print them each week on paper (for easy modification) and throw them in the trash with the coffee grounds and used Kleenex--completely disposable.

  6. I think I just threw up in my mouth.

    Let's re-write that collect, shall we...

    "Almighty God, we thank You for the faithfulness of those who have gone before us. Keep us steadfast in that same Word and Truth which our fathers confessed. Fill us with Your Spirit through Your Word and Sacraments, which You have preserved in the historic liturgy of Your Church on earth. Protect us from every seditious spirit that seeks to remove that firm foundation which the saints and martyrs of old have died to defend, that in every age we may rest secure in the knowledge that Your Spirit dwells with us, creating, strengthening, and preserving our faith by the preaching of Your Word, and by the Holy Supper of Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name and for His truth's sake. Amen."

  7. Phil,

    It's just paper, after all. In gradeschool I had a teacher who - during religion class - took his copy of the Bible and threw it as hard as he could into a pile of garbage (if I recall correctly, the binding came loose and a few pages were ripped). This was to demonstrate to our young minds that the book itself is not holy, but rather that the Word inside of it is holy. The teacher's message may have been meritorious from a logical perspective, but practically speaking I believe it sends the wrong message.

    This same message, I suspect, plays a part in certain other measures of irreverence, e.g. when the ladies guild pours the left over shot-glasses from Communion back into the unconsecrated bottle, while storing the unused host in a closet until they can be "re-consecrated" at the next Communion.

  8. That's right--it's just paper and ink. The problem is that if there's no paper and no ink, one wonders whether God's Word is there for men to receive. The Word did become Flesh, after all (and was written down, without ceasing to be the Word).

    My point is not to condemn bulletins in themselves, but to show that perhaps our practices have subtly adjusted our attitude without our meaning to do so. Consequently, perhaps bulletins should be avoided, not in and of themselves, but in their relationship to our whole practice. I still believe that the Liturgy should be constant enough that we have memorized it, or else we should read it from the book in acknowledgement that it's not Pastor Schmidt's June 16 liturgy but the Church's liturgy.

    Luther excoriated Besserer and Wolferinus, not because they were sending the wrong message, but because they were Zwinglians. Can we throw the wine in the trash because it's Christ's Blood and not the wine that saves?

  9. Whoever wrote this seems to be under the impression that a significant portion of pastors in Nebraska think that they are saved through traditions and rites. Does anyone actually believe this? Maybe this could be the next online poll?

  10. Why do so many people in the church hate the church so very much? So much so that in the "liturgy" they devised they feel the need to ridicule good works and churchly rites. Ironically, I am sitting at the Clocktower Resort in Rockford, IL (home of Cheap Trick) for tomorrow begins our Pastoral Conference on Worship with presentations by Bishops Herb Mueller, Jr. and Dan Gilbert. There are men in the NID who do much worse and much sillier things than what was presented here. Lutheranism makes me weary. "The church which is not catholic is not the Church."

  11. Thanks be to God there is a remnant in Nebraska who has not succumbed. Winside.

    Another sheep.

  12. "Good News, we are free not because of rituals"...Somebody failed Lord's Supper 101.


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