Monday, January 14, 2008

Lutheran for a Day

This Sunday, my ministerial association is going to have its second annual pulpit exchange, and this year I'm heading to the Lutheran church, of the ELCA variety. I've actually been to a service there once before, when the previous pastor was about to begin another call in Chicago. I'd wanted to see him in action before he left, as I thought he was a pretty cool guy. For starters, he was a Michigan grad, but he'd also helped make my ordination ecumenical. So anyway, I kind of have a feel for what to expect when I roll in to preach on the 20th. It also helps that the UCC and ELCA are part of a full communion agreement that dates back to 1997. This probably helped in the decision-making as to who would go where, so I can officiate at communion.

I have great memories of Lutherans from my seminary days. Every year, most of the St. Louis seminaries would get together for a Day of Theological Conversation (for some reason, the conservative Reformed guys didn't like the rest of us or something). Besides the ragtag bunch from Eden, there was always a strong presence from the Missouri Synod seminary. I can remember one particular year when, after the official stuff was over, a bunch from Eden and Concordia headed over to a pub and that's when the more honest discussion and fellowship took place. We also played them in ultimate frisbee a couple times.

I've also been drawn to a couple Lutheran blogs the past month or so as well. There's the beer-loving Nebraska fan Scott at Nachfolge, the tattooed, Hemi-loving Lutherpunk, the totally-in-touch-with-her-feelings emerging church fan Sarcastic Lutheran, and another Nebraska fan, LutheranHusker. I'm drawn to these blogs because of their sense of the sacred mixed with their earthiness. They have such a deep appreciation for the liturgy and for their heritage, and yet seek to express it in modern ways for a new generation. Blogs like these inspire me, because they try to keep this balance.

I'll head over to the Lutheran church on Tuesday to be briefed on what'll be expected of me. The pastor who just started there seems to have a less long-winded liturgical style than the previous pastor. I remember a lot more read and sung responses when I visited last year. I'm not one who minds less of that. In fact, my church's worship had a few more Lutheran-ish elements to it before I came in and started "low-churching" everything (that's right, kids, "low-church" is a verb now! Tell your friends!). Maybe when I go there on Sunday I'll find a way to work in my guitar. Or not.

I look forward to this experience. I expect that it'll be 180 degrees different from going to a Methodist contemporary service last year.

By the way, the pastor of that Methodist church is moving on in July after seven years. Given the massive turnover that our group has experienced in the past year, that means that I'll have seniority. Whatever that means.