Here’s a coda to my blog of several days ago about religion: According to yesterday’s New York Times, the Missouri Synod has required a Lutheran priest to apologize for taking part in the interdenominational service that took place at Sandy Hook following the shootings there. It turns out that the synod has a rule that its ministers cannot participate in services that include religious leaders from organizations which do not proclaim Jesus to be the one true Savior. Both Baha’i and Islam faiths were represented at the Sandy Hook service, ergo the Lutheran priest should not have participated. The fact that a member of his parish was among the slain was apparently not a good enough reason for ignoring this instruction.
I can’t even comment about that. It’s just too petty and bigoted.
But let me tell a story on myself. This happened in the early ’80s, but I have never forgotten it. I was invited to spend the Easter weekend with my then-boss and his family. I had (at best) a spotty relationship with my boss, so to say I was on my best behavior is putting it mildly. All went well until Easter Sunday, when we went to the family’s Lutheran church for service.
As I listened to the priest’s pre-Communion instructions, I realized that I wasn’t eligible for Communion at that table — the priest made clear that only those who had been baptized as Lutherans were invited to participate. Others, he said, could come up and kneel at the altar rail, “make the St. Andrews’ cross,” and receive a blessing.
Okay, so we’ve already agreed I’m a heathen. But a blessing would certainly be a good thing. Only one problem: What in heck is a St. Andrew’s cross? Not knowing, and with no way to ask, I had no choice but to swing my legs to one side and stay in my pew while the rest of the church moved forward to participate. No blessing for me.
Years later, I was at an Episcopal service, and the priest was giving similar instructions, but she didn’t even say the words, “St. Andrews cross.” Instead, she said, “Go like this,” and crossed her arms across her chest.
I got it! St. Andrews’ cross! Just like the cross on the Scottish flag! Even I can “go like this”!!
Whenever I read news stories about how the number of Americans that are involved with organized religion is falling, I wonder if organized bigotry has anything to do with it.