Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Concerning Pulpit Supply

Nothing brings home the division and chaos of the MO Synod's worship practices like filling in for someone else or having someone else fill in for you. Here are some things to consider, garnered from my own mistakes and troubles in this regard.

First, if you are looking for someone to fill in for you, put together a standard letter that explains in detail anything that might be remotely quirky about your parish. My letter includes the fact that we genuflect, elevate, wear the chasuble, chant everything (except the Preparation), consume all that is consecrated, etc. Do you do announcements before the service? Which general prayers do you use? Etc. If nothing else this is a good exercise for you to take inventory of the customs and ceremonies you follow - and perhaps rethink some of them.

Second, if someone is asking you to fill in - take nothing for granted. Ask questions. For example, the last time I stepped into a pitfall was when I did not discover the use of grape juice until I was preparing the altar at that other parish. I told the elder on duty that we weren't using that at the service that day. To say the least, a sticky situation best avoided. So ask: do you use only wine for the Supper? Do you use only wheaten bread for the Supper? Does the pastor commune everyone? What vestments are worn? About how long should the sermon be? etc. If you feel conscience bound not to do something that this parish does, you want to be able to decline the invitation beforehand. Since I know I feel conscience bound not to use grape juice, and since I know a lot of LCMS parishes do, I should have asked before agreeing to fill in.

It's been said before and it will be said again: you just can't make assumptions. These are the results of unbridled "diversity."

If you find a good fill-in: pay him well!



  1. Fr. Curtis, Can you send me your letter so that I can tweak it?

  2. The answers to your questions at the most "Cutting Edge" LC-MS churches:
    1. No, Purple Kool-Aid is fine, thankyouverymuch
    2. No/Yes, What does "wheaten" mean, anyway?
    3. No, The dance troupe, 'The New Angels of Promise,' do that
    4. Designer jeans and a graphic tee shirt/soul patch and lots of "product" in hair
    5. 45 minutes with lots of video nonsense mixed in

  3. Agreed, I'd appreciate Fr. Curtis, who has done the work, to give up his letter for regurgitation. I'm going to vacation this year and can't imagine what sort of nonsense will happen in my stead.

    1. The things you might mention will be different, of course, but FWIW - here you go:

      TO: Pulpit Supply Pastors
      FROM: Rev. H. R. Curtis
      RE: Information for services at Trinity Worden and Zion Carpenter.

      Thank you so much for agreeing to serve Zion – Carpenter and Trinity – Worden on DATE, WEEK OF YEAR Sunday. Enclosed you will find the Order of Service. This letter contains other details of the service.

      Bible Class at Zion: 7:30am
      Divine Service at Zion: 8:00am
      Divine Service at Trinity: 9:30am
      Bible Class at Trinity: 10:45-11:30am.

      The Address and Directions are on a separate sheet for your convenience.

      In case you should become ill or otherwise unavoidably detained, you may call elder NAME at NUMBER or secretary NAME at NUMBER.

      At our parishes the pastor vests in alb, cincture, stole, maniple, and chasuble. If you lack any of these items in your own vestment collection, you can pick up my white set at Trinity before you head over to Zion. I will have them loaded up in a garment bag for you in Trinity's chancel. You will need to stop at Trinity anyway to get Zion's tray of individual cups, which again, will be set out for you in Trinity's sacristy off the left of the chancel.

      Before the service, announcements are made at the front of church. Then return to the rear to process in at opening hymn.

      The pastor chants the entire service except for the Preparation, which he speaks. This is noted on the copy of the service which is included. If you find it useful, my altar book will be on the missal stand – this includes the pastor's chant. Or you can simply use the LSB Altarbook or Hymnal.

      The celebrant genuflects at the customary point in the Nicene Creed – this is noted in your service.

      (cont. below)

    2. (cont.)

      At Zion: Before Bible Class you will need to make sure that you have an individual tray with 8 cups filled. There should also be a cruet of wine and a cruet of water on the altar. We typically have around 20 communicants at Zion, so there is plenty of wine in the cruet to pour into the chalice for the Supper.

      At Trinity, you will pour some wine from the flagon into the chalice while preparing the Altar during the Offertory and then return the flagon to the credence table. Likewise at Trinity the elder will have set out a tray of 30 individual cups on the credence (the top tray). Move this tray to the altar during the Offering/Offertory. The bottom tray contains an extra 15 that can be consecrated if you run out.

      PLEASE NOTE: ONLY THE WINE IN THE CHALICE AND INDIVIDUAL CUPS IS CONSECRATED – WHAT IS IN THE FLAGON or CRUETS IS NEVER CONSECRATED. Likewise, with the hosts, only what is on the paten is consecrated – never what is in the host box.

      Therefore, you may have to consecrate more elements if you distribute all that you consecrated the first time. This rarely happens, but it does happen and the people are accustomed to waiting for this to happen.

      The celebrant elevates the Body (large host) and then genuflects after the consecration; the same is done with the Blood (chalice) after its consecration.

      At Zion, the celebrant distributes in this way – during the Agnus Dei he distributes the Holy Supper to himself. When the Agnus Dei is over, he distributes to one Table at a time beginning with the Lectern side. He distributes to each Table in this order: Body, Chalice, Individual Cups. At Trinity the procedure is the same except that the people will begin lining up at the Table during the Agnus Dei.

      The Sacrament is not reserved at either congregation. After the people have communed, the celebrant consumes all of the Body and Blood (including the individual cups - simply pour them into the chalice). He then uses the water cruet to rinse the paten into the chalice and drinks that water as well. He then wipes down the paten and chalice and covers the chalice and paten with the veil.

      This is all I can think of now, please give me a call if you have any questions whatever – and thank you once again!

      In Christ,

  4. This is an excellent idea. I am going to pass this along to my Pastor.


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