27 April 2010

Kinda Surreal

to attend Vicarage Assignment Vespers at the Seminary today. Lots of memories. Dean and Lauren are staying put - Our Redeemer in Overland, Missouri. Lauren already is part-time secretary/part-time teacher in the school there. Pr. Russ Wise, who serves there, was at one time vicar in Dean's parent's church, Holy Cross, Collinsville.

The service itself was...interesting.

Winning the prize for odd: floating streamers that accompanied the processional cross. Think very Valpo-y and you get the idea. So out of place that one scarcely could decide between snorts of outrage or guffaws at the silliness thereof. Sorry, Concordia Seminary and with all due respect to my friend, the Reverend Dean of the Chapel, but that is just dumb.

Winning the prize for sad: the complete absence of the Gospel being proclaimed to the gathered vicars-to-be and deaconess intern and the congregation. Here is the root source of the problems of the LCMS, folks. It's a preaching crisis.

Winning the prize for worst piece of music: Alabare, sung at the pace of dirge. Really, if you're going to use a piece of music from another culture, at least learn a bit about TEMPO! I've heard folks butcher "Listen!" in just the same way. Grr.

Okay, venting off.

The choir was outstanding on the Psalm, Prof. Utech did a beautiful job in reading the lesson, and the prayers were reverently offered by President Meyer.

I think about those goofy streamers, though, and just shake my head... The image of cheerleaders with pom-poms keeps surfacing...

53 comments:

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

Yuck - waving streamers during the Procession at the Call Service right now, too. Why, oh why?

Benjamin said...

Is there a way to find out who was assigned where?

William Weedon said...

Glen did a great job preaching at late service.

Assignments will be posted on the CSL website at conclusion of the service.

Paul McCain said...

I had to see it to believe it, and I saw it, and still don't believe it. Who in the world dreamed up that goofy "foolish spectacle" with the streamers?

And since when do we conduct such a service with the great Veni Creator or some other such hymn to the Holy Spirit?

Very discouraging stuff indeed.

Paul McCain said...

Make that "without" ... the Veni Creator Spiritus.

William Weedon said...

And people complain about INCENSE... ;)

Eucharisted said...

You should see the opening Eucharist of a Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA...

Paul McCain said...

WW, sorry, can't pass it up....since you pitched up the softball.

I was kind of incensed over the wave-the-streamer thingies.

But it does raise a [not-too-serious] question?

What does one call the vested chaps whose duty was to carry the streamer poles in and then stand in the chancel and rotate then wave them around?

I kind of felt like I was at a Rams' game or something.

William Weedon said...

I think they called them streamer bearers or some such.

Anonymous said...

I was a happy mom when my almost 13 year son who was watching the beginning of the service with me commented something about 'those waving flags look dumb.'

Rev. Josh Sullivan said...

When I was placed from St. Louis in 2003 they had no streamers, just Christless preaching. They also had awful jokes during the assigning of calls.

Hearing this makes me proud to call CSL my alma mater. . .

Boris said...

"Very Valo-y" LOL Priceles, just a priceless comment. I know exactly what you mean by that.

Boris

Pr. Lehmann said...

Having looked up who the preacher was, a DP who used to be the Executive Director of the most pietistic RSO in the Missouri Synod, I'm not surprised that there was no Gospel in the sermon.

But I'm still sad.

Boris said...

oops. I misspelled it. I meant to quote you correctly as "very Valpo-y".
Once on a trip back home from Milwaukee where I had visited many beautiful, historic Lutheran churches (think Trinity, LCMS, Milwaukee), I stopped by Valpo on my way home. I had never seen the place. I guess I was expecting something grand, being a Lutheran university and all. I was so completely underwhelmed by that hideous, modernistic chapel that I was at a loss for words. I remember the WEIRDEST looking Christ Rex statue I'd ever seen draped in what looked like some white bed sheet (supposedly for the "Easter season"). The Christus Rex corpus looked more like a ghost or a zombie than Christ. With the white bedsheet wrapped around the arms of the corpus, it truly looked like something from some B Hollywood horror movie. I did like the SIZE of the Valpo chapel. It was big and spacious. But that was all I liked about it.

Boris

Anonymous said...

Maybe they did see the opening of an ELCA churchwide assembly.

KathyS said...

If you want to see this really stupid thing for yourself, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFIkl3MHOgc&feature=player_embedded

Pr. Weedon, it was nice to meet you face-to-face! I agree with your assessment of the service.

Rev. Richard A. Heinz said...

Oh dear! Just followed Kathy's link and saw it on YouTube.

While seeing the streamers wave, I can't help -- seriously -- I can't help but expect Underdog, Muppets and other Macy's baloons coming down the street. And while I'm at it, I'm hungry for cotton candy, and I'm looking for Shriner clowns riding tiny bicycles.

I'm sorry, but this does not aid in the reverence for such a blessed occasion and pivotal moment in these men's lives.

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

Perhaps the "Streamer Bearers" can be given a neologism as a title: vexilifers. But even a Latin title can't hide the fact that those streamers were "something else."

Not having Veni Creator Spiritus sung at a call service is a "new custom" that is not for the better. Nothing more haunting then hearing is sung alternatim in chorale and plainchant setting, and knowing that some of the Kantorei were singing it for themselves and the rest of us candidates.

Perhaps there is blessing to be placed from a chapel that didn't have streamers, but did follow a set ordo.... :)

Ryan said...

Watched the vid - this is why I have to go into defense mode for my alma mater with the Fort Wayne guys. The streamers broke an important rule - the extra stuff is supposed to draw your attention to Christ, to Worship not away from it. I couldn't help think the streamers looked like the yipping aliens from Sesame Street.

sigh.

Dixie said...

So many images, so little time. Initially the streamer waving reminded me of fly fishing which isn't so out of theme, all things considered, but then they reminded me of liturgical dancers I have seen that used streamers. Then they reminded me of Life of Brian and the shoe on the end of a string on a pole and, well, things went downhill from there.

I found the plexi cross a bit off as well.

But we Orthodox bring out lots of things; crucifixes, icons, candles and fans for processions, and I am certain many of your readers would find our things strange as well so I don't mean to crticize without acknowledging that the door swings both ways.

However...it would be very nice if someone could donate a gold plated processional crucifix to the seminary. That would look very nice and might make someone think twice about streamers. 'Cause streamers go better with plexiglass than with a gold crucifix.

J.G.F. said...

I know... it's semaphore for "I want to be a Pentecostal... I want to be a Pentecostal..." Except they spelled it wrong...

Sorry.. couldn't resist.

I'm now running to the restroom to throw up... No wonder Mother Mo is sinking fast.

J.G.F. said...

I know... it's semaphore for "I want to be a Pentecostal... I want to be a Pentecostal..." Except they spelled it wrong...

Sorry.. couldn't resist.

I'm now running to the restroom to throw up... No wonder Mother Mo is sinking fast.

J.G.F. said...

Sorry about the double post.... Google is being wierd today.

Mike Keith said...

Pr. Weedon,

A preaching crisis? Hmmmm.........now what might help such a preaching crisis? I know! An annual preaching retreat for pastors! A Retreat where you get a different speaker each year to disucss preaching with parish pastors! Speakers like Cwirla, Nunes, Weedon, Petersen, and this year Klemet Preus!

The 5th Annual St. John Chrysostom Lutheran Preacher's Retreat June 7-9, 2010 at St. Michael's Retreat in Lumsden, SK Canada.

End shameless plug. However, seriously, that was some of the reasoning that went behind organizing such an annual retreat. And Pr. Weedon, thank you for serving as our 3rd speaker!

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

The streamers were an embarassment. The processional cross has been a well picked bone of contention since it made its appearance over a decade ago. Originally it had a solid brass staff which made it weigh about 20 lbs or so. The president of the student body was always assigned the job of crucifer, so this added a need for certain physical requirments of the president.

I will say that if you sit in the Chapel on a sunny morning it is not uncommon to see the sunglight refract around the edges of the processional cross, the effect is quite amazing. Yet I would still prefer a more conventional looking processonal cross. If it looks like I could have made it myself in my garage, then in my book its probably not art.

Anonymous said...

As the banners are in the papal colors, it is obviously a Romanizing tendency.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ship-of-fools.com/mystery/2009/1680.html

Came across the above shortly before reading this post. An unhappy evangelical, I've thought about returning to the LCMS church of my childhood, but what's the point.

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Thanks to Kathy S for the link. Having now seen the procession, I can say I think I am perhaps equally impressed by the ribbons as with the cross. I have seen some "interesting" crosses, but this one might just top them all. It is one thing for a processional cross to be empty (that thing being sadly un-Lutheran and devoid of Christ). It is another thing to actually carry in a cross that is so vacant that when you look at it, you just see other people. That cross and the ribbons go well together; they deserve each other. But a seminary community, and the seminary families, deserve better, as does the worship of our Immanuel. One only hopes that the vacant cross is not telling us something of what is taught at the seminary.

My other two thoughts might equally apply at the Ft. Wayne seminary (though it's been a while since I've seen one of those services). 1. I think it would be more appropriate for the seminarists to be in choir dress for the ocassion (same for those horn players, assuming they are seminarists). And 2. from a liturgical perspective, it is far from ideal that we tend to design services for which we need to look down and read from a piece of paper, even as we walk in procession. That could be avoided by just having a choir sing a liturgical chant, or by having the congregation sing a good hymn that everyone knows.

Now, does anyone have a link for the sermon?

Rev. Richard A. Heinz said...

Sadly, Latif, your comments about the "empty" cross show just how bizarre it is. Believe it or not, that is (supposedly) a crucifix. It is a modern corpus that is to bring the bronze serpent to mind, even as the large but equally unnoticeable crucifix above the altar.

It is said that some choices were to emphasize the motto: anothen too phoos -- Light from Above. SO the light is seen through the "crucifix."

The entire Chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus seems to reflect "liturgical appointments by committee." Some unusual combinations (compromises?)came about, but I think the processional "crucifix" takes the cake.

I say this as an alum (Class of '95) who was there as it was constructed. The chapel could have ended up as an aesthetic joy. Instead, it became a display of modern art and minimalism.

As an aside, if you ever see the architect's drawings from the 1920's, they include renderings of outside and in for a breath-taking gothic chapel. Statues of all the apostles on a tall reredos, stained glass, etc., etc. You will weep.

Anonymous said...

from viewing the video link: plastic, see-through crucifix; out-of-sync windshield wiper action...kyrie eleison

Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

Fr. Richard:

Sorry, I didn't notice the corpus. One day I'll have to visit that chapel to see it for myself. Speaking of crucifixes, despite the presence of the beautiful crucifix at Kramer Chapel, which is unfortunately moved constantly from the altar to a side table, and back again, it would be wonderful if that large cross on the east wall had a corpus on it. At one time, as I recall, Fr. Reuning spoke of wanting to get something like that accomplished.

Benjamin Delin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Pastor Rodney Wise dad... Close though!!

William Weedon said...

Ben,

I think your comments a bit over the top. The joy of the day remains: the Lord of the harvest answers the prayer of His church. That doesn't mean that silly spectacle shouldn't be named as such. Precisely the theatrical in worship is something every Lutheran pastor by his subscription to the Book of Concord says "no" to. I am more surprised to hear zero comment on the homily. Now that is something to have some righteous indignation over. Woe is me, says the Apostle, if I do not preach the Gospel!

Daniel said...

"If we would actually spend the same efforts out creating relationships with people then the LCMS and other church bodies wouldn’t be in decline".

Ben,

The key question is what do you mean by "decline". If you mean numerically, this betrays an incomplete awareness of the way ministry works. Sometimes the most faithful ones see numerical decline; on the other hand sometimes the most watered down ones see numerical success (=Joel Osteen). Advancement is the Kingdom of God is faithful to Christ and His Church- and that may cause you to lose everything. But "he who loses his life for my sake finds it".

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Unintentionally embarrassing things happen in church all the time. Computer’s crash and the video doesn’t work, the sound system feeds back and picks up a truck driver’s CB, the bulletin has the wrong hymn numbers, and is filled with horrifically misspelled words, the Pastor trips over his feet with a full chalice in his hand; the list is long and unending.
And sometimes embarrassing things happen intentionally; we try a hymn that the congregation doesn’t know, or the choir struggles with an anthem you picked for them, a sermon illustration falls flat, you make a big deal about mother’s day but find out after church that one of your members had a miscarriage a few days earlier and what you said hurt her feelings deeply-- that happens too. And yes, it can sting a bit when someone points out our folly. But I have learned over the years that often the people who tell me something isn’t right are the people who care about me and about their church. I’m a hard headed German, and sometimes I have to learn the hard way.
CSL is my Alma Mater, and the chapel of St. Timothy and St. Titus holds a lot of dear memories to me. When it was time to be Lector, or lead evening prayer and I did not do well it was pointed out, not because they disliked me, or that the devil had gotten into my instructors but because they had high standards and knew I was capable of more. My professors, field work and vicarage supervisors also at times had to tell me some things that I’d have rather not heard. My class-mates watched my sermons on video and critiqued them and I theirs. And when you are in the field you will find it a blessing to have brothers who are honest with you, rather than standing by and letting you hang yourself.
Building relationships is important, and a significant part of building a relationship is accountability. I have a long relationship with CSL, I expect that their standards of conducting services in the chapel to be high. I have a long relationship with the Synod, and I expect my fellow pastors to preach Christ crucified when they are in the pulpit, and I don’t consider it mean that that is what they should expect of me. I still make embarrassing mistakes, but woe to me if my congregation or my peers consider my correction a waste of their time.

brycewandrey said...

I watched the video...

One thing that struck me was the relation between the length of the poles and the 3 whole streamers on them. They weren't even banners...they were party streamers.

Banners wouldn't have been good but if you are going to carry a 20 foot pole at least put something of substance and mass on it. On second thought, don't carry a twenty foot pole unless there is a crucifix or thurible on top (but really, why would you be carrying a twenty foot pole in church? A place the size of St Peter's in Rome doesn't even use poles that long...or poles at all). And so, IMHO, not only an example of poor taste but also an example of disproportion.

Anonymous said...

As one of the 199 who received a call on the day in question, it is very saddening to see the leadership of our church being so petty and hateful over a small aspect of one church service (i.e. the banners and the bad sermon). I think in this situation we are all missing the big picture. Here we have a room full of well trained men and women preparing to go out and spread God’s holy and precious Word with the lost, sick, and hopeless and all that is said by our wonderful leadership is how dumb some streamer looked? I think a large dose of Grow up needs to be taken in this situation. People are dying without the saving news of Christ and all that is blogged about is some streamer looking like Valpo? Really??? For some reason I keep thinking about Jesus saying something about a speck of dust and a plank in someone’s eye… It is sad that this kind of immaturity is spread between brethren, (none the less the leadership of the church!) and that this is our example that we are supposed to look up to. It is very discouraging that as we take our calls and placements in excitement and anticipation of the works our Lord has prepared ahead of time for us to do in His name, that this kind of blog is circulating. But I guess when all you do is edit books for a living, you look for the commas and periods around a sentence (i.e. the streamers and sermon) and you forget the thesis of the book (The men and women going out into the trenches to spread the news of our Risen Lord and Savior).

KathyS said...

I did a rough count. There were not 199 men placed into the pastoral ministry on that day. There were less than 140. The streamers were stupid. They distracted from the importance of what was happening at those two services.

Anonymous said...

Check your numbers.

http://www.csl.edu/NewsDetail.aspx?newsId=224

Christopher Esget said...

I was at the vicarage placement service at Ft. Wayne (we were assigned a vicar) and the sermon (along with the service) was quite good (the morning eucharist was rather odd, though).

Your comment about cheerleaders with pom-poms reminded me of something a friend of mine said the other day: "Pastors today are expected to be cheerleaders, and cheerleaders are generally girls. It's no wonder people want women's ordination. Girls are better cheerleaders."

brycewandrey said...

I know that I am not in the LC-MS anymore but even I (an Anglican) find it slightly alarming that "anonymous" thinks a bad sermon is a "small" aspect of a church service.

brycewandrey said...

And I should add that I am sure Pr Paul McCain will be happy to see a soon to be Lutheran pastor already anonymously blogging. ;)

Anonymous said...

KathyS

The kid doesn't understand that vicars don't get calls.

He's baiting us about the sermon...I'm not biting.

Bad Ice

William Weedon said...

To any seminarians:

Look, the joy of the day was full indeed! God smiled upon it with the weather. We saw numerous men and one deaconess receive assignments (I was only at the assignment service). My heart rejoiced greatly at my son-in-law's assignment. The Lord of the Church was answering the prayers of His Church to send workers into the vineyard and so we gave thanks with jubilation.

Amid all the joy, I note what was odd: the banners; what was sad: the lack of preaching of the Gospel (which is what you are supposedly being sent forth to learn to do).

Now here's a word for you all: learn to listen to criticism without being defensive; learn to ponder and think about it. It never means you have to accept it as legitimate. It does mean that if you cannot have the humility to consider it without getting defensive, you'll never make it in the Office - for we receive criticism constantly. Some legit, some not, but all of it has to be received without anger.

From one who thanks God for you all and your willingness to serve in Christ's church. - Pax!

Pr. Lehmann said...

The streamers may seem like a small thing, and in the larger scheme of the service noted in the original post, they are.

But the lack of the Gospel being preached is NO small thing. From a district president it is nothing less than an abomination.

I tell my people frequently that if ever I don't preach the Gospel to them, they should come over to my house and help me pack, because I have shown myself unfit for the ministry.

I'm serious. Completely serious. They know it.

Matthew Wood said...

Anonymous
"over a small aspect of one church service (i.e. the banners and the bad sermon). "

While I can see your point on the streamers, but how is the sermon a small aspect of a church service?

The sermon is indeed how the sick, poor, lost, and dying hear and experience the transforming power of the Gospel. The sermon can never be considered a small and trite part of the service.

And then the question needs to be asked, how do streamers communicate that Gospel? I suppose, to put the best construction on things, they were there to portray the celebration and joy that the gospel brings. Were they effective? The first thing I thought of was that it looked like a giant cat toy.

Not to mention the example of worship at the Seminary impacts and influences these young pastors who go out into the field. So when something odd happens there it is good to question its effectiveness in communicating the Gospel.

KathyS said...

I checked the numbers from Anonymous' link. 111 received CALLS at CSL. I did, however, miscount the Calls given at CTSFW. There were 40 there, so that makes for 151 total. Not the 199 Anonymous claims.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

"From one who thanks God for you all and your willingness to serve in Christ's church. - Pax!"

Peace to you and I thank God for your service, and to all who are willing to do so. I pray that all the brothers and sisters (deconesses) who are awaiting calls and placements will receive them soon.

brycewandrey said...

Forty placements at CTSFW? Wow...that is like half of the placements when I graduated. Even if the 20 who didn't receive calls did that is still a dramatic decrease from my day (which was only in 2003). What has happened?

Anonymous said...

brycewandrey:
Maybe what's happened is that if you go down to St Louis and learn "how to do a praise service well" (as someone described it elsewhere) you will be more likely to get a placement or a call under this regime?

Sheep are dumb but not deaf; the clamor about closing or selling the Fort might also have some effect on the lambs growing up to choose the ministry.

--helen

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pr Weedon for your balanced comments. I too thought that the streamers were odd, but of all the problems I see today in the LCMS, streamers don't even make the list.
On the other hand, the preaching was just awful. No one can even debate that! This is a real problem. And the bigger problem is that there really isn't a good man ready and willing to fill his position as DP. Lord have mercy!

mlorfeld said...

Dixie,
I'm with you on the processional cross... The Seminary actually does have a beautiful gold leafed Cross (which you can see at lstc.edu right on the front page to the right and behind the students in the picture). Unfortunately it was stolen by the walkouts from Seminex and is now at LSTC.