Dear Friends in Christ,
Here at Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, how we conduct the Divine Service in God’s House says a lot about what we believe, teach, and confess is happening in the Divine Service. If the Lord Jesus is indeed present in Word and Sacrament to forgive sins, as He promises He is in His Word, then we should act like it. Or in the case of this blog post, “dress the part”.
Lutherans have historically, from the time of the Reformation, conserved godly ceremonies and vestments of the historic, “catholic” faith of all times and places, which confess Christ crucified for sinners. In the case of vestments for the pastor to wear when conducting the Divine Service on Sundays or on feast days, the alb, stole, cincture rope, and finally the outer chasuble completely cover the man who serves, leaving exposed only his hands, head, and feet. The vestments confess that this man is God’s servant, speaking God’s Word, serving God’s gifts using his hands and feet – and not his own personality, charisma, or other human qualities.
Notice in the blog post that Lutheran churches in Germany held onto the historic vestments for their pastors, as Immanuel now has provided for her pastor. Lutheran churches in the last century have restored this practice of the liturgy, because during preceding centuries, these vestments and reverent ceremonies of the liturgy were taken away by the gradual introduction of anti-sacramental Reformed/Revivalist theology, or the theology of the liberal enlightenment which discounted anything supernatural happening. But during and immediately after the Reformation five hundred years ago, the Lutherans held onto reverent ceremonies and vestments in the liturgy as confession of their faith:
“…in order thereby to serve a counterblow to the ‘libertinism and negligence of divine worship (libertinismo und negligentia cultus divini), which unfortunately are growing ever more prevalent from day to day.’” (Quote from a church order in Mecklenburg, Germany, 1659.)
Thank you Pastor Sutton for teaching us, your flock, this valuable lesson of our Lutheran history AND for serving us, your flock, in reverence as His servant giving fullness of the gift from our Lord.