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Friday, December 3, 2010

Simple Church Minute 22--congregation stands, somber attitude

22—congregation stands and somber attitude
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute.
            Today, a quick trip over two traditions not hinted at in scripture.  First, in many churches, there is a tradition of the congregation standing and singing as the clergyman walks in to be seated.  This just may come from the same place as, in a modern court, the bailiff announcing “all rise” as the judge walks in. That’s because, in the judicial tradition of the Roman Empire, those in the court room rose and sung for the entry of the judge.  As with many Roman court customs, similar traditions became a part of Roman pagan temples, and after the Empire started (quote) helping (unquote) the church, a similar custom began in 4th century basilica worship.  It continues in almost all of the institutional churches to this day, except for the Pentecostal/charismatic branch.
            The second custom is acting serious and somber in church.  This comes from a Frenchman named Jean Joubert, but more commonly known by the anglicized version of his name, John Calvin.  Calvin saw himself as an attorney—he left his legal studies at the University of Orleans to flee the Inquisition, and went to Geneva, Switzerland.  There, he created a liturgy which was heavy on theology, and which necessitated pastors needing significantly more theological training.  To this day, churches following his ideas require pastors to have a masters degree minimum, and go give sermons more similar to seminary lectures than other branches of the church.  Calvin eliminated music, and encouraged a sense of feeling guilty before God.  Martin Bucer introduced reading the ten commandments in each service.  The New England Puritans went further yet to fining children for smiling, and having a person to poke people who were falling asleep.  From this came the tradition in the US in the 1800’s of the pastor being the most highly educated person in town.  First Thessalonians 5 verse 16 says, rejoice always.
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