The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America



Even at worship, we need 'stuff'

Comedian George Carlin had a routine in which he pointed out how we always have to go get our “stuff.” “I’ll be right with you, as soon as I get my stuff.” “Hey, where’d you put my stuff?” “I don’t know. Is this your stuff in the corner?”

Human beings seldom are empty-handed. Things are important to life—sometimes overly important. We’re not empty-handed on Sunday either. Even celebrating communion requires human stuff. Worship isn’t some pleasant act of imagination or thought. It’s people bringing things with them for their assembly.

First, there’s the furniture. The church did without pews, benches and chairs for most of its history and, in fact, that very furniture often keeps us from being active. There’s also the pulpit, lectern or ambo from which the word is read and the sermon proclaimed. They’re useful, but we could get by without them.

We would have the hardest time doing without the font and table. They have important work to do: holding the water, holding the bread and wine. The font is the womb from which Christians are born, the tomb in which the old self is buried. The table centers our community in the praise of God as we pray the great thanksgiving and partake of communion.

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February issue


Embracing diversity