This picture is not of my family. It is entitled “Getting Ready for Church”. I know it is not of me or anyone I knew because we would NEVER have worn tennis shoes. I include the picture because the overall body language is instructive.
Sunday mornings at my house were something like what I imagine Marine boot camp might be like. Clothes were pressed, laid out, and I tried to wait until the last moment to put the tie on because I didn’t want to wrinkle the shirt. We ate breakfast with towels covering us so that there could be no spillage that might stain. Hair wasn’t just combed, it was combed and some kind of product was applied that made it impervious to a comb later let alone whatever wind that might be blowing. For that reason the oringinal combing took a long time and had to be pretty much perfect. Teeth were brushed once when we got up and again before we left. There was a handkerchief (ironed and folded) in each suit coat pocket but it was never to be used. My mother carried a large amount of kleenex in case of emergency. In the wintertime overcoats were humg with care and also pressed. Shoes were polished the night before and buffed upon the way to the car. Their was alot of ‘trimming and pressing” that went on in the car, and one last shot in the coat room at the church. This whole procedure really got interesting when I starting shaving. I figure that adolescent milestone added an hour to the whole process since we had one bathroom. I tried shaving in the kitchen sink one time and when my mother found out we had to take a trip to the emergency room since she thought she was having a heart attack.
I remember one Sunday when I really tried to get everything just right to avoid the stress and the last minute panic. I got up early, got dressed before anyone else, hung my suit coat up to avoid wrinkles, waited for my hair to be combed, and then put on my overcoat and sat in the car and waited for everyone else. At the church to my mother’s horror I had commited the unforgiveable sin – I had forgotten my suit coat. I sat through church on a winter Sunday in suit slacks, a white shirt and a tie. The Pastor told me later that when he saw me without a suit coat he got so nervous he forgot the sermon text.
The trimming and pressing was a good exercise in discipline and putting your best foot forward. Sometimes however, I felt that we were missing the point of it all. To look, act and be our best out of response to Christ’s love is a good thing, but I never figured out until later that was what my parents were trying to teach.
There is a lot of hobeln und feilen, trimming and pressing in our life together. I have heard that a District that shall remain nameless passed a convention resolution that only Lutheran Service Book songs, hymns and liturgy can be used at gatherings and conventions. I’m sure the resolution was meant to “harmonize” our “life together”. When the vote is taken and it’s 51% for, and 49% against, harmony seems to be out of the question.
I would like to do some “timming and pressing” as well. I think that gathering and conventions should only be held at venues that have a pipe organ. I would like a resoution at the next Synodical convention that those Pastors that insist on chanting actually be able to chant. I would like to see that a special commission of the LCMS visit each congregation where chanting the litugy is going to happen and test the cantor. If the chanting makes the local dogs bark perhaps we should speak the liturgy. If I have to sit through a service in which the chanting makes me grind my teeth to a point that I am losing enamel, it effects our life together. To look act and sing our best is obviously important so why not a cantor exam and audition? I think a part of seminary instruction and testing should be chanting ability. If we are about “trimming and pressing” let’s do it where it matters and obviously the “ancient liturgy” matters.
Paul had something to say about our life together in Collosians 3 –
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Just make sure to use LSB amd if you have a grievance wait until the next convention and pass a resolution to make people do what you want. All you need is 51%.