“You Lutherans have to stand up, and sit down and mindlessly repeat words that you just make up in some sort of man-made ritulal!”
“Lutheran Pastors wear vestments and you have candles in your churches!”
Have you ever heard this line of horse dung from fundamentalist Evangelicals before?
I have. It is perpetuated by an ignorance of Lutheranism, of the Christian faith and the history of the Christian Church.
As Lutheran Christians, we don’t have to do any of that stuff. Unlike the worship practices of the churches that are not really free, we are free to do these things…or not!
We do these things because they anchor us in Christ. Our liturgy keeps us from floating hither and yon and ending up looking like the non-denominational, entertainment style, therapuetic, self-focused, styles of worship that predominate the landscape of Orange County, California.
Our symbols speak to us. Their symbols speak to them.
Ours are centered on Christ, His Word and sacraments. Theirs are focused on the believer… their faithfulness, their decision, their comfort, their music, their law based theology. Christ is there, but He is no longer the Center. The onus shifts to the believer. Listen to one of their sermons. Who is the focus? 9 out of 10 times it will be you.
Our focus is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The killing of the Old Man/Woman by proclaiming God’s Law and the raising of the New Man/Woman with God’s forgiveness in Jesus, proclaimed freely without qualifications or conditions.
We uphold Christ’s Supper and His full presence therein. We unabashedly hold up infant baptism as it is God that does the baptism and makes His promises to the child. Who are we to say that He needs our profession of faith before He can act on our behalf?
Every word in our creeds and liturgy is derived entirely from the Bible. It is all in there.
Is the Bible our pope? No! The only Holy Father we have is Jesus Christ our Lord.
If we got rid of some of these traditional Christian symbols, and had music that is more pop oriented would we get more people in the door? We probably would. Would it be worth it to sacrifice the centrality of Christ and the ‘other world-ness’ of our traditional confessional service to get more bodies in the door? I say no, it wouldn’t be worth it because you would inevitably start the slide towards the self. It’s a lousy trade off.
I for one, am thankful for our great confessional Lutheran message that is centered on, and anchored to our Lord Jesus and His forgiveness of our sins. I want to tell others and invite them to worship with us. I hope you will too.
– Steve M.