of the more difficult things I had to learn in seminary was vocabulary.
Not Greek or Hebrew vocabulary (although that was difficult, too), but church
vocabulary. Have you ever noticed that we have a different Ďchurchyí name
for things that could probably just as easily be called by a more familiar,
non-churchy word? For example, I am speaking from a pulpit, not a podium.
Actually, Iím not even speaking, or lecturing. Iím preaching. The
book holder is a lectern. The table is an altar.
Even the simplest things have
fancy names Ė some churches have a flagon as part of their communion-ware, not a
pitcher; the bread sits on a paten not a plate; the cup is called a chalice, and
the baptismal water bowl is called a font. Pastors and assisting ministers
often wear albsónot robesóto signify the fact that we are engaged in Godís work
in Godís house.
When Iím teaching someone new to
the faith about the basics of Lutheran worship, Iím torn between using the
special vocabulary and using ordinary words for everything. On one hand I feel
that I should teach this special vocabulary because it does make things here in
the spiritual world of the Church seem just a little more special and a little
more holy. This special vocabulary has been passed down from one generation to
another for ages, and it does help to designate this space as a place away from
the world and the ordinariness of our normal day to day work. This special
status is also a reminder that we are in this world but not of
this world. That we are Godís people, not the people of the world....
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