lutheran lady lectors

 

an observation by Peter M. Berg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just recently there were two confirmed sightings of lutheran lady lectors in WELS congregations in different parts of the country. Although that may seem surprising to many WELS folks, one would imagine that such sightings would still be rare in such a conservative church body. This is not the case elsewhere. Rome caved in some time ago, and the Protestants do the protestant thing (which means anything goes). The practice is gaining acceptance in the Missouri Synod, and the situation in the ELCA is, well, ah… anyway. Such a practice in our midst is inevitable considering the unfinished business which the synod has when it comes to the roles of men and women, the Holy Ministry, and the ongoing worship wars raging in Lutheranism (which have not left Wisconsin untouched). Just the same, the line has been crossed and now questions will be raised. “Pastor, is this practice right? Is it wrong? Is it wise?” Is it dangerous?” You won’t lose the farm if you wager that WELS pastors and lay people will answer yes to all these questions, with varying shades of gray in between. The synod will eventually have to deal with the issue. How it deals with it will be very revealing in a number of ways.

 

Lutheran Midrash

 

For most WELS folks such a practice begs for a “synod rule.” We are all legalists by virtue of our sinful nature, and so we naturally go in the way of the Law. Let’s be honest, as my favorite English detective, Inspector Morse says, having a Jesuitical rule for everything just makes life a lot easier. It would be nice, for example, to cite Lutheran canon law in the face of some of the knucklehead requests, which we pastors sometimes receive when planning weddings and funerals. However, our theologians have rightly noted the dangers inherent in setting black and white rules for every eventuality. During the discussions about the roles of men and women in the 1970s and 80s, our theologians encouraged that we establish general scriptural principles about the subject, and then derive applications for specific cases. Although this approach is an improvement over having Lutheran midrash, it still goes in the way of the Law. When it came to the man/woman issue the general principle that was urged was this: A woman cannot have headship over a man; headship being defined as binding the will of another. But to cite Dr. Luther, “What does this mean?” One Lutheran scholar has noted that this approach puts us at the mercy of the exegetes; and I would add, each with her own ax to grind. What does headship mean? Does it mean binding another’s will? Does that then mean that a woman can’t be a CEO of a company or a commanding officer in the military? Does that mean that every woman in the world is subject to every man in some way or another? To this very day some in our circles have answered yes to these questions. If the answer is yes, then the synod is facing widespread rebellion and apostasy, because our women are faithfully serving in a variety of leadership positions in the world, even though they can’t vote on the issue of whether or not to start a parish school for their children. Such an answer raises the question as to whether the WELS can have any credibility as it tries to serve as a witness to the larger Lutheran community.

 

If we approach the practice of lutheran lady lectors by going in the way of the Law, severe complications arise. If we say that reading the scriptures from the chancel in the public service is an exercise of headship, binding the will of others, then what about the little girl who recites scripture from the front of church at the annual Christmas Eve pageant? Is the word she speaks any less authoritative due to her tender age? Is a lady lector binding the will of the whole congregation by reading God’s Word in the public service, or is it the God behind that word who is binding the will? Is the lutheran lady communion assistant really in an authoritative position (provided the hemline passes muster)? Such questions are not duplicitous, and however one feels about them, they will be asked.     

 

Office?  or  Functionalism?  

 

This whole matter has been further complicated by the fact that while we once viewed the Holy Ministry as an office which was occupied by people, who met certain qualifications and who served the congregation with Word and Sacrament, the office seems to be viewed more and more, today, in terms of the functions which it performs. Indeed, the WELS position on the Holy Ministry has been characterized by some of our critics, whether fairly or unfairly, as pure functionalism.  If the Ministry is defined as doing things, then the office and those who occupy it are not as important as the accomplishment of the assigned ministerial tasks. This author has heard more than one of our pastors say that it is not necessarily wrong for a woman to be a pastor, just as long as she doesn’t exercise headship or authority over a man. 1 This statement flows logically from a functional view of the Ministry. However, one is left to stretch the imagination in order to conjure up such a casuistry, but let us try. How about a group of ladies headed to a LWMS convention, in a broken down bus (driven by a WELS lady bus driver), somewhere between Phoenix and Yuma?  Just break out the Ritz crackers and wine coolers. Voilŕ, Holy Communion! Would that necessarily be wrong? The rabbinic rules have all been kept. No problem, right? Yet there is a problem, for doing theology based on exceptions and emergencies means that casuistries dictate our practice instead of the Word, with all sorts of unresolved, faith-shaking questions lurking in the future. Now we’re going in the way of the Law, instead of the way of the Gospel, which is the way of the Incarnate One. Even from a biblicist viewpoint, where in the Bible do you ever hear that it’s not necessarily wrong for a woman to be a pastor? The Bible never presents us with a vision of an Amazonian church bereft of men.

 

Before you think that this author believes that the WELS is hell-bent-for-leather when it comes to the ordination of women, please believe me when I say I don’t think that’s the way the deal is going to play out. The WELS is too conservative to ordain women. Paul’s prohibitions are just too certain, and there is still a strong affection for the old model of the pastoral office. Yet the old model of the office is now under attack. Not only is the pastoral office seen in a functional way, the office itself is seen as one which the church “in its glorious Gospel freedom” may keep, change, or do away with, just as long as the functions are taken care of. We won’t ordain women into the pastoral ministry, but we don’t necessarily need the pastoral office as we once knew it either. As long as you can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that a lutheran lady lector reading the Bible, or a lutheran lady communion assistant distributing a tray of “Jesus jiggers,”2 or a lutheran lady witness sharing her testimonial during the service, is binding the will of others, then there’s no reason to accuse those who permit such practices of sin, even if you wouldn’t do it in your church. Just as long as there is some sort of male headship overseeing the whole affair, then the synod rules have been kept and the church stuff is getting done, even though the practice would have shocked our socks off twenty years ago.  

 

The Heavenly Bridegroom and His Bride

 

Yet the ministry is not about doing things; it is about Christ. Only then is it about doing. It is Christ in action, through his called ministers, baptizing, catechizing, hearing confession and absolving, preaching, communing, discerning doctrine, and disciplining.3 In the same way, Christ, through his laity, is continuing his ministry of personal witness and compassion for their children and their neighbors. The Holy Ministry and Christian witness and compassion should not be viewed in legal terms, but in a Christological way. In this way, we are spared New Testament ceremonial law. Although St. Paul’s prohibitions about women preachers settle the matter, they are not the starting point, Christ is. We start with the fatherhood of God, who gave up his Son, the sonship of Christ, the husband and wife relationship of Christ the bridegroom and his bride the Church, the gender of Christ, and Christ’s choice of an all male apostolate. Once that is done, then the Pauline prohibitions will not seem arbitrary but will make sense. It’s not that one set of scriptures is normative and the others are less so; they’re taken as an organic whole. God was not arbitrary when it came to the Incarnation, or when he established his Holy Ministry, or when he used the bridegroom/bride analogy. Remember that God is first the creator of humans, gender, and things. When we view God in an ontological way (who God is), then we will know who he is and who we are, including those in the Holy Ministry of Word and Sacrament.4 The Bride-groom gives life to the Bride; it’s not the other way around. The Seed promised to our first parents is planted into the Bride. The submission of which Paul speaks in Ephesians chapter 5 is not principally about husbands and wives (see v 32), but about how Christ serves his bride by planting the seed. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46.10). Be still, stop your vain efforts to save yourself, stop your fretting and worrying, stop your prying attempts to discern my hidden will. Be still, stop trying to grow the church, you Church-Growth wanna-bees. Be still. Let me serve you. Let me give you life!” The pastor stands “in the stead” of Christ, in an iconic relationship to the Great Servant. He speaks Christ’s word, not his own. He speaks Christ’s absolution, not his own. He distributes Christ’s body and blood, not his own. He gives Life to the Bride, because Christ permits his life to flow through his lowly minister, and flow it does. Just as the heavenly Bridegroom gives life, so his stand-in gives Life. In view of this, do the matters just proposed as the proper starting point for this discussion have no bearing on the discussion? If one says that we don’t have a Bible verse which says that pastors (and lectors) are to be male so that they might properly stand in the stead of the heavenly Bridegroom who gives life, just as they give Life to the Bride through the liturgy, then one wonders if Ephesians 5 and the rest of the New Testament mean anything at all, and if we’ve deteriorated into a most shallow form of biblicism. 5

 

There was widespread shock and dismay among the traditionalists who remained in the ELCA when that church took its infamous stand on homosexuality. How-ever, many of these same folks had cooked their own goose when they accepted the ordination of women. One can hardly protest too much over a permissive approach to homosexuality when one has adopted a view of the Holy Ministry that is essentially ecclesiastical lesbianism. The Holy Ministry is not just about doing things, but about who God is and who we are.

 

Furthermore, one can only guess as to how our view of the Holy Ministry would change if we realized that, while all of God’s gracious means deliver the Gospel, this does not mean an exact interchangeability between them. If the Feast of the Lamb is heaven on earth, then baptism, absolution, liturgy, preaching, and the public reading of the scriptures6 are all directed toward the Feast and find their relevance there and to each other. Then doctrinal discernment and church discipline will also find their proper Eucharistic sphere. If all of this is an integrated whole, which it is, then we will not deal with the Holy Ministry in a piecemeal fashion, with ministry specialists dealing with their little bit of an atomized ministry. If all of this is true, then we can sing a Te Deum with the festal gathering in heaven and on earth when we are spared sign-up sheets for ministerial duties:  “Bob and Jane Smith will distribute the individual cups next week, and Jim and Sally Jones will do the readings.” 

 

Whither the WELS?

 

This author is not very hopeful that a Christological approach to the Holy Ministry will gain acceptance in our circles.  We will probably decide the issue in a legal way, instead of Christologically. Pragmatic concerns about “giving our people a sense of ownership” by way of being involved in busy church operations will outweigh theology.  Those who object that the holy Catholic church never permitted lady lectors will be easily brushed aside in our present-day ahistorical climate. The issue will be dealt with in the squishy context of matters of adiaphora and giving offense. Finally, every parish will do its own thing, and synodical officials concerned about shrinking budgets will be tempted to turn a deaf ear. This can only insure a disunity of practice, and additional unresolved questions about which way the WELS is headed.  §

 

The Reverend Fr. Peter M. Berg is pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS), Chicago, Illinois.  At the time of the writing of this essay he was rostered WELS.  This essay helped usher him and fellow editor Fr. John W. Berg from the WELS, the latter by association and refusal to reject this article.

_________________________________________________________

 

1 It would not be surprising if the notion of a female pastor, who serves only women, is already spooking around in the minds of those for whom Christology is merely defined as modeling Jesus-like behavior.

2 There is at least one instance in our midst of a lady communion assistant. What made this case all the more problematic was that she was distributing the host. All too many communion assistants (vicars, elders, deacons) have been handed the paten instead of the cup, when in fact it is the presiding minister (the pastor) who must fence the table (which can only be done at the distribution of the host). In addition, while it may be argued that those who distribute the Sacred Blood are merely the hands of the celebrant (the pastor), which is true, turning this task over to women places the chalice into the wrong hands for the reasons elucidated in this article. 

3 The Lutheran confessions define the scope of the Holy Ministry in the entire breadth of its divine power and responsibilities. Those called to this ministry possess it in its entire scope and enjoy equality with their fellow ministers. (see AC XXVIII.5-9, 21-22, Tr 60-62, Tr 11)  Special consideration must be given to the gender-specific qualifications recorded in 1 Tim 3. If these are not requirements for those in the Holy Ministry of Word and Sacrament, but only specifications for one undetermined first century form or species of a larger genus, then they have no practical application in today’s church, and should not be employed in any contemporary ordination rite. 

4 Pauline liturgical/ministerial directives (1 Co 11-14; 1 Tm 2) are rooted in the creation and the God/Christ/man relationship, set as they are either in the priority of Adam’s creation or in the iconic relationship of the Son and men to God the Father (1 Co 11:3). Woman reflects man’s glory, but man and Christ are the ikons of the Father. A male pastorate reflects the Father’s creative relationship to his creation and Christ’s husband/ pastoral relationship with the Church (see 1 Co 11:7, 8; 2 Co 4:4; Col 1:15; Eph 5:22f). Though the image of God is restored in all the redeemed, a woman cannot be a pastor, even to other women, because she is not an ikon of the Father in the same way as are the Son and men. What is the glory of God but his Son? Therefore men are the reflection of Christ, and pastors in particular are the reflection of Christ to his Bride. A woman can only image man; only a man can image Christ and the Father.

5 John Kleinig, in an excellent article entitled Ordination of Women and the Trinity, notes that Christ is not only the bridegroom to his Church, but that he also reflects the fatherhood of God to his people. (Jn 14:9f)  In turn, Christ’s ministers are described as fathers to their people. (see 1 Co 4:14-17, 1 Thess 2:11-12/This article appeared in the 1997-1998 issue of the Lutheran Theological Review, Volume X, 470 Glenridge Ave., St. Catharines, Ontario L2T 4C3)

6 See 1Timothy 4:11-14 where the public reading of the scriptures is linked to ordination into the Holy Ministry.

 

 

Letter to the Editor

 

 

 

 

Herman Roy Goetjen writes,

 

In "Lutheran Lady Lectors" (Vol. 1:2) it is pointed out that the WELS approach to the Doctrine of the Ministry is "Functional" not "Doctrinal". Wow, thanks, after all this time I now understand. (Still don't agree with the WELS position, but at least I now understand). I have had an ongoing correspondence with a WELS professor trying to figure this point out. I always had felt that the problem was definition of terms, but this explanation makes even more sense.

 

Two other short comments.  In Middle-eastern context, by kneeling, bowing, or even prostrating oneself, a person is showing how much lower he is to the person being addressed.  Therefore, kneeling in a church setting is showing in a physical manner how we are lower than God and must submit to him.  I think "Americans" can become too hung up on the equality of man here.  In church we are not bowing to another human, but to God.  It is a sign of respect for God, not Romanism.

 

Sorry, I must have too much of a Pietist background.  "Father" is a term that non-Lutherans equate with the Roman Church. That the local Lutheran population knows that the Pastor is Lutheran is irrelevant. What the population at large understands, I think, is more important. We should be proud of our Lutheran heritage.

 

8MM  Thank you for your letter and your insight in regard to the significance of prostration in the orient. You're correct, the deferential mannerisms of an appropriate liturgical setting are God-ward, therefore not a Romanizing  tendency.

 

Your discovery that the difference between the WELS position on the Holy  Ministry and that presented to us in the confessions is more than a matter  of semantics is correct. The functional approach to the Ministry, which has  infected all of Lutheranism, fits well with the utilitarian spirit of our age: "If it works, it's got to be good!" WELS conservatives are nervous about the synod's rapid slide into disorder (lady lectors, etc.), but they don't seem to realize that the WELS theses on the Ministry and the vaunted Wauwatosa Theology are two of the reasons for the slide.

 

I also come from a Pietistic background and so understand your discomfort with the title "Father". I attend a LCMS church at which the title is the preferred way to speak about the pastor. It's use doesn't seem to present the problems you envision for outsiders. However, this might be a unique situation (PMB).

 

 

 

 

lutheran lady lectors Redux:

lutheran lady celebrants

 

by Peter M. Berg

 

 

 

 

It has been two years since I was a rostered pastor in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. My journey has led to a different place and new friends. It’s good be out of the sect. The WELS remains in my prayers, but not in my heart. The doings of the synod are generally of little interest to me anymore. However, periodically something very Welsian comes my way which makes me shake my head. Recently a friend sent me a question and answer which appeared in the synod’s on-line Q & A. This particular exchange only confirms what I said about the WELS some time ago: It is a church body that is slowly sliding into a general type of Protestantism. Never really Lutheran, never totally Protestant, an unding of sorts. The Q & A exchange in question is printed below.

 

Q: I was recently a guest at the ELS convention when I learned of a proposal to the ELS doctrine committee regarding the role of women in the WELS. A report was read by an ELS Pastor that was published by a Professor of the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. In the report it had stated of women communing other women and that a small group of WELS pastors see nothing wrong with this practice happening because it did not violate the rules of women serving over men. And also the idea at a future time as women serving as Pastors in the WELS ONLY to other women. But doesn't doctrine state that the job of a Pastor is for men only and only a MALE Pastor is to administer the sacraments? The ELS had voted this down because this clearly goes against doctrine. What is the WELS going to do with this statement and ideas by these Pastors. If nothing is done and it this passes, would the ELS and WELS break fellowship?

 

A: ELS and WELS leaders have been in regular talks about church and ministry throughout the time ELS has been formulating and discussing its doctrinal statement. Since both ELS and WELS are committed to letting Holy Scripture have the last word, I have no doubt that they will eventually arrive at an agreement on this matter.

 

The differences, however, are only apparent because, as your question suggests, ELS and WELS approach the matter of women communing women from different starting points. The ELS approaches it from the point of the vested duties of the pastor. The Bible establishes all of public gospel ministry but does not establish a pastoral office as such or vest certain duties exclusive to that office.  Tradition has shaped our concept of pastoral duties as we know them today, so the suggestion within WELS that women could assume certain duties of that office may certainly be offensive and confusing to some.

 

Since the Bible does not assign specific duties to the pastor WELS, approaches the matter of women communing women from Scripture's man and women role relationship principle. WELS doctrinal statements on the role of man and woman say that a woman may have any part in public ministry that does not assume teaching authority over a man. That, of course, would include women communing women. WELS has had only two instances of women communing women, and our Conference of Presidents has since issued an indefinite moratorium on such practice to keep from offending our brothers until the matter is mutually resolved.  WELS does not consider women who lawfully assume certain duties of the pastoral office to be pastors, does not call them pastors, and does not intend to call them pastors. The word pastor has the traditional meaning of exercising authority over both men and women and would be an inappropriate title for women who minister only to women.

 

Twenty-five years ago WELS had ELS had years-long discussions of issues involving the Lord's Supper. The God-pleasing resolution of that issue is one we can also anticipate in this one where both sides at the table submit to the authority of the Word of God.  

 

Women giving communion to women? Where does one begin with this one? It’s wrong on so many levels. First of all we ask: Why? Don’t all women in the WELS have a parish and a parish male person (don’t call him a pastor because the Bible “does not establish a pastoral office as such.”)?  Why do the women of the WELS need to get together and commune each other? Even in the setting of a female prison male priests and ministers have served ably. And what of the far weightier theological issue of non-ordained people consecrating the Eucharistic elements? Finally we ask: Who and what are driving this agenda?

 

Although we ask why this issue has been raised, we’re not surprised that such an anomaly is proposed. The WELS essentially has a purely functional view of the Ministry. It has effectively separated the duties of the Holy Ministry from the office of the Ministry. The WELS theory is that there are ministerial duties which are carried out by whomever the church designates. Stuff needs to get done, but it really doesn’t matter who does the stuff, because there really is no office to be occupied by certain people who meet certain qualifications. The issue that was raised on the Q & A is not a matter of what the people of the church do in emergency situations, for which the church has always made allowances. This is a complete departure from the traditional practice of the church catholic (never mind current aberrancies). The current aberrancies, which date back to 19th century Protestant sects, and which have been brought to their logical conclusion by 20th century ecclesiastical feminism, have lessened the shock of this provocative move for most people. The practice of an all-male clergy liturgically administering all of God’s graces is one not culturally or time based. Therefore, this proposed departure is simply that, a departure from the practice of the church. The duties given to the ministers of the church by her Lord are being usurped by the non-ordained laity, strangely enough, aided and abetted by the pastors. In the WELS, you see, the office is in the doing of ministerial tasks. This was Hoefling’s false teaching. The what of the Ministry overwhelms the who. However, the who is of the utmost importance. The who is what lies behind and empowers the what, for the empowering who is Christ, and through Christ’s stand-in, the frail minister, this power is administered to God’s people. Again, the WELS position is Hoefling’s teaching, but if you say loud and long enough, “We’re not Hoeflingites!” someone will believe you.

 

In this scheme of things the Office of the Ministry has been subsumed by the duties. The only time when qualifications come to play in the WELS is when doing the ministry stuff puts women in a position of authority over men, never mind that such limitation was ever placed upon the Office in the New Testament, nor the early church. According to the WELS, this proviso occurs when women, by the position they occupy or by what they do, bind the will of men. In other words, it’s not who they are which disqualifies them, but to whom they do the ministerial stuff which disqualifies them. At an all ladies retreat they can dress up and pretend that they’re pastors, but on Sunday morning they can’t. How demeaning to women when they are reduced to being pajama party pastors.

 

The confused position of the WELS on the Office of the Holy Ministry is summed up in the answer given to the inquirer, “The Bible establishes all of the public gospel ministry but does not establish a pastoral office as such or vest certain duties exclusive to that office.” That is simply not true. The New Testament ministerial titles are all exegetically unified in the sacred text and they are personally unified in Jesus the Good Shepherd. Indeed, if one were to give the most descriptive characteristic of the New Testament Ministry, it would be that it is pastoral. To this pastoral office are given the duties of shepherding: feeding the flock with Word and Sacrament; protecting the flock by doctrinal oversight. Those in this office have all the functions of the Ministry at their disposal and they serve the entire flock of God, not just groups parsed out from the Body of Christ. (I’ve written on this subject in more detail in this on-line issue of the MM in the article, “lutheran lady lectors”, and in an article entitled “That Jesus Christ Was Born a Man”, which will appear subsequently on this site.)

 

As the Q & A author notes, this matter is a dicey issue because there are folks in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (the WELS partner church) who are disturbed by the proposal of women communing women, and non-ordained persons consecrating the elements. The good people in the ELS who are troubled by this proposal could well ask their WELS counterparts: “When in the history of the Christian Church do you hear of such a thing? Gnostics, 19th century Protestant sects, and ELCA to be sure, but when in the history of the church catholic do you see this?” This novel anomaly occurs because it’s been spawned by the anomalous doctrine of the Ministry held by the WELS, a doctrine which is merely a century old. What my friends and I have said about the WELS Q & A applies also to the WELS doctrine of the Ministry, “They’re just making this stuff up as they go along.” And add disingenuousness to the sin of doing theology by the seat of one’s pants. How disingenuous of the Q & A author to say, “WELS does not consider women who lawfully assume certain duties of the pastoral office to be pastors, does not call them pastors, and does not intend to call them pastors.” If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, if looks like a duck, it’s a duck. Where’s my shotgun?

 

The author of the answer, whether he realizes it or not, has fired a shot across of the bow of the Good Ship ELS. The best crewmen of ELS have been pretty well marginalized, and WELS sycophants are largely in control of the helm. In view of this, one wonders if the grumbling in the ELS will simply remain that. We hope not. Only time will tell. However, what the author failed to understand is that the good folks in the ELS are not just upset that there were two instances of women serving communion to women in the WELS, but that the WELS says that it’s not a heretical practice and that it could lawfully engage in this practice if it wanted to. You don’t have to read too closely between the lines to catch the demeaning handling of the ELS protest. The author is quick to point out that an “indefinite moratorium” on such a practice has been issued by the WELS COP, but not because this practice is heretical, but rather not to offend the ELS brothers who approach this matter “from the point of the vested duties of the pastor” which, of course, the Bible doesn’t establish according to the author. In other words, since the ELS approaches the matter incorrectly some of its people are unnecessarily offended, so the WELS will not practice what it believes it has every right to do “until the matter is mutually resolved” (which means, until the ELS knuckles under). The big dog barks and the little dog starts yelping. Incidentally, I’ve been told by some ELS people that the reason that many in the ELS are afraid to tick off the WELS is that it might lose WELS students at Bethany Lutheran College. Unconfirmed yes; but if true so much for confessional integrity among our Norski friends.  Uff Dah!

 

Gender is important when it comes to the Office of the Holy Ministry. The ministry is an iconic reflection of Christ the Bridegroom. He plants the Seed in the Bride, the Church. The New Testament minister will therefore be a man, as were all the apostles. 1 Corinthians 11 and Ephesians 5 are very instructive in this regard, as is also the Tractatus. This is the doctrine of the New Testament and the practice of the church catholic, in spite of sectarian aberrations. In a thought provoking two-part article, James B. Jordan takes this matter out of the realm of law and rules, instead viewing it liturgically, shall we say pastorally? He writes, “My thesis is that the differences between men and women are, by creation design, fundamentally liturgical and only secondarily biological and psychological. To put it another way, my thesis is that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are grounded in their differing liturgical roles.”* Eve assumed the pastorate of St. Eden’s parish and created her own liturgy, worshipping at the wrong altar. Yes, as aforementioned, when it comes to the ministry testicles are important, and because they are we challenge the WELS to show some. If you folks in the WELS believe that this practice is meet, right and salutary, if you believe that the church for the last two millennia missed the boat on this one, then tell the ELS to get over it and start letting your women serve in all areas which are lawfully theirs. You’ve had no problem offending the sensibilities of confessional people in your midst, why be selective when it comes to offense? And don’t just confine women to communing only women. Why can’t they commune men too? Is holding a tray of “Jesus jiggers”, at a table properly fenced by a male ministry-person with host in hand, binding the will of others? I think not. But then again you’ll have to explain to this Eucharistic minister that although she may hold the sacred blood of the Lord, she can’t vote on the color of the carpet in the fellowship hall at the next voters’ meeting or get her two cents in when it comes to the other mundane things which preoccupy these dreadful meetings. 

 

They’re just making this stuff up as they go along!  Kyrie, eleison! §

 

The Reverend Fr. Peter M. Berg is pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS), Chicago, Illinois.

 

 

 

*This two-part essay appears in the journal Rite Reasons  -  Studies in Worship.  It is available through Biblical Horizons, P.O, Box 1096, Niceville, FL 32588-1096. You will receive the publication for a donation of any amount.