Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And. Here. We. Go.

So, this is my very first blog post. Here we go...

When it comes to worship, I am anti-distraction. I do not like to see pastors doing things that draw my attention away from the Word. This goes for things on both sides of the liturgical spectrum--both things like this:

and things like this:

And then, whatever category this falls under:

In picture number one, if I were trying to listen to what the pastor was saying, I would not be able to. I would be distracted. I would be thinking to myself, "if this man is telling me about the most important thing in the world, why is he dressed like he's auditioning to be an L.L. Bean model? And why do those people behind him look so bored? Is that bass player just too embarrassed to look up because he forgot to wear shoes to church?"

In picture number two, if I were trying to focus on the words spoken at the altar, I would not be able to. I would be distracted. I would be thinking to myself, "why are those men lying down on their faces like they are suntanning? That must not be very comfortable for them. I hope someone cleaned the floor this week, because if no one did, their robes are going to get dirty."

In picture number three, well, in all honesty, I would just leave. The three year old child in me has never quite gotten over a similar scene in Poltergeist.

I recognize, of course, that "distraction" is a relatively subjective concept. One man's chanting is another man's praise band. But somewhere in the supposedly irreconcilably subjective, taste and culture driven formless blob that is the worship wars, there must the anchor of this simple, objective fact: The Church is the place where the sheep hear the voice of their Shepherd. And because of this, pastors ought to be careful not to get in the way of that happening.

My goal with this blog is to explore this issue. And any others that may come up in the process.

My name is Pastor Hans Fiene. Thanks for reading.


Pastor LaPlant said...

Hans - Picture number 2 is of a Roman Catholic ordination service. The men on the floor are candidates for the priesthood. Just thought you should know. (Don't you wish that was a part of our rite of ordination?)

Pastor Fiene said...

Leroy - I figured it was something of that nature. Even if there is a theological idea behind the posture, I still find it distracting. But perhaps more on that later.

Mrs. Rider said...

I hate to say it, but I've seen the third picture somewhere before; if it's from the website I believe it is, you would find lots of grist for a discussion on vestments.

Roger said...

In regard to the first example, I am always perplexed by pastors who never wear a collar or an alb. There is a certain pastor I know who I have never seen in a collar, though he will wear an alb during worship. I often wonder if he doesn't want people to know he is a pastor outside of worship, even while he sits in his office and provides pastoral council to those who would visit.

In my reading just this afternoon Bo Giertz hit the nail on the head in the second chapter of the third novella of Hammer of God. In it a parish pastor contends with his Rector (it's kind of like a district president for anyone reading not familiar with the term or the book) that he does not wear his clerical coat because he wishes to attend worship as an "ordinary human being." The rector responds quite well: "Then you are sailing under false colors. You are no ordinary person. You have been ordained by the Church as a servant of the Word. You have been elected and called by the Christian congregation at Odesjo to be its pastor. You get support from the fields which godly forbears donated for the pastor's upkeep. it is pure dishonesty to take the money, if you want to be just an ordinary person."

The point is that when God puts a man in the position of a preacher, he ought to look the part. I don't care if the pastor doesn't wear a collar when he goes to the doctor's office for his checkup or to the grocery store. It would be absurd to see a man mowing his lawn in a clerical. But when acting in the office of a pastor, a man ought to at least wear the uniform.