Yup, the family is going on vacation.  Thank God we’re not the Griswalds.

We’re going to Disney World, presumably the happiest place on earth. But I doubt it.  The happiest place on earth is wherever all the rich people are using all the money I and everyone else has poured into this park – and I haven’t left yet!  After all, the adage maybe that money can’t buy happiness, but to paraphrase a comic I recently heard: have you ever seen someone on a wave runner frowning?

Anyway…we’re going on vacation and that got me thinking about the Church (much to my wife’s frustration).  It got me thinking about what congregations do when their pastor leaves.  I’m not talking about the mice that come out to play when the cat is away, those who boycott the Divine Service when the called and ordained servant of the Word is there, and somehow are there when he’s gone.  It amazes me that Christians think that this is pleasing or even acceptable to God.  But that’s not what I was thinking about, or at least that’s not what this blog is about.

Rather, I got to thinking about ritual and ceremony.  Everyone knows that ministers do things differently.  This is largely due to one pastor – one parish church structure. Throw in some anonymity and voters-take-all, and you’ve got a recipe for constant liturgical change. It’s no wonder the people get frustrated and confused!  When I leave my parish – whether by death, call, or on vacation – it can be a pretty sure thing that the services I am absent for will be noticeably different than when I’m present.  This is not good or bad in itself, but where’s the continuity?  It’s on vacation.

But there is a solution to all this liturgical variants: clergy.  If every parish had a deacon or two that were always involved in the conduct of the service from a serving position (ie, in the chancel), then when the pastor, the chief clergy and celebrant, is gone the service will go much smoother according to local custom.  Not to mention transitioning pastors.  This will largely end the “hey, we got a new pastor: I wonder how he’ll do the service” problem, or at least ease it quite a bit.


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