Recently spoken by a Lutheran pastor of the LCMS persuasion, “Well, this is a real long Gospel reading, but let’s get through it with just as much energy at the end as we’ll have at the beginning.”
Angry Lutheran response, “What the…?!”
Then, the entire congregation read the Gospel reading. Mind you, this was after a nameless, vestment-less female parishioner had wandered up to the lectern to read the Old Testament and Epistle readings. What was the pastor doing during all this? Standing with his hands at his side and staring into space for the first two readings and then reading the Gospel along with everyone else.
Why would this practice be instituted? You’ve likely heard the answers before: to be inclusive, to give ownership to the people, to get everyone involved, after all, they are a royal priesthood. Now how can Angry Lutherans have a problem with that?
This practice confuses the identities of those present in the Divine Service. Yes, those in the pews are the royal priesthood who sing praise to God, pray, receive God’s gifts, give thanks, and go out into the world to serve as little Christs to their neighbors. However, they are not standing “in the stead and by the command of “ Christ. That is the pastor’s position. He is there to give. The royal priesthood is primarily to receive. Laypeople should revolt at the suggestion that they should be trundling up to the front to “do the readings”! Their response to pastors who would abdicate that part of their responsibility should be, “No! We are the Bride of Christ! We are here to receive gifts from the Bridegroom who loves us and gave Himself up for us! You, who stand in His place, should serve us with His Word and Sacraments! How dare you try to shuck off part of your role! Don’t insult us with your pandering to make us feel more included! Proclaim God’s grace to us! Don’t make us proclaim it to ourselves!”