Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Snow blanketed the ground. It was cold. Yet, a few of us stomped the snow off our feet and came into the narthex of Holy Cross Lutheran Church—hungry for God’s divine service to us. It hit me as pastor chanted the proper preface last evening. Chanting, sure it’s an adiaphoran. But, it does lend credence to the fact that the Church in corporate worship speaks in a way the world cannot and does not understand. The Divine Service is God’s bringing heaven to earth in Word and Sacrament. So, when we enter the sanctuary and proceed into the service of the word, our pose sheds a certain casuistry in favor of reverence. And, why not aid that reverence with the beauty, the solemnity, the joy of chanting—both by the pastor serving as celebrant and the congregation responding. Yeah, there were only a handful of us gathered last night, but you couldn’t tell us that when we sang hymns, confessed our sins, and received absolution from God via the mouth and gesticulations of our pastor. Chanting heightens the tone of reverence especially during ht elead –up receiving our Lord’s body and blood. Sure, a baby may cry in the background. The organist may bump an unintentional note. Yet, pastor and congregation share our Lord’s blessing in responsive prayers and in the awes of Christ’s Words of Instition. Of course, I’m not saying that chanting is necessary or putting folks down who don’t do it. We have Christian freedom to adjust our liturgical tempo—if you will, th etype of congregation in which pastors serve and in which we worship. Some congregations just don’t have as many strong voices who can carry a canticle’s beauty. Some may not have chanted anything for years. So, the apastor adjusts. Yet, even there, in reverent conversation—confession and abolution, introit spoken, versicles exchanged—God gathers for Himself a people receiving His gifts. And, in gathering us around His altar last evening—and bringing His people together in congregations worldwide, our Lord Jesus Christ distributed His grace—His true body and true blood to us Christians to eat and drink. What a great way to end 2012 and launch into 2013!