Sunday, August 10, 2008

At First I was an Anglican

Today, I ventured to the First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Toronto (Wikipedia) for Divine Service with Holy Communion. Attendance was sparse and I was personally greeted by the pastor upon my arrival. I was struck by the absence of kneelers, and also by the high altar, which was adorned with "big six" and fixed against the wall. I was all primed for an ad orientem celebration.

I had brought both Evangelical Lutheran Worship and the Lutheran Book of Worship with me, not knowing which they used (I figured it was a safe bet to leave my Service Book and Hymnal at home).

The pastor wore a Geneva gown and an unspeakably tacky green stole. We began with a hymn, so that the Confession and Forgiveness was the beginning of the service (rather than a sort of pre-service followed by the opening hymn). The hymn was "There's a wideness in God's mercy" sung to a tune called Lord, Revive Us. It's also given to St Helena in ELW, but not to In Babilone. Bizarre, I know. Setting One from ELW was sung with a distinct lack of enthusiasm by the tiny congregation. I have no idea what lectionary was used. Psalm 30 was read, like all of the lections, by the pastor. The Epistle was from First Corinthians, and the Gospel was part of the Parable of the Sower from Matthew. There was no Old Testament lesson. The congregations is affiliated with the Protestant Church in Germany as well as the ELCIC, so perhaps the lectionary was theirs.

I was disappointed at the Words of Institution (there was no Eucharistic Prayer), at which point the pastor spun around and held up the elements, consecrating them in midair while facing verus populum. Oh, well. At least he faced east for the Intercessions and Postcommunion.

The pastor bravely communicated me on the tongue. There was a communion rail, which I found interesting given the lack of kneeling in the rest of the Liturgy. Several people declined the chalice and opted for Presbyterian shooters instead.

Afterwards, a woman asked me if I was a Lutheran. Perhaps she had seen me crossing myself. I replied that I was an Anglican. 'Same difference,' remarked another woman, which is indeed true in Canada as of 2001. The pastor marvelled that I had travelled all the way from North York (he must have read my entry in the guestbook, which I signed before Mass). I didn't get to ask about the Lectionary, or my other burning question: was the congregation LCA-CS or ELCC before the merger?

I will certainly return to First Lutheran again, and am thinking of Reformation Sunday as a possible time for my next visit.


BillyD said...

Do you speak German? I see from their website that they still have weekly services in German - I'd be interested in knowing how different the German liturgy might be from the one you describe.

Geoff said...

I don't, I'm afraid. I do know that the German service has Communion once a month (the first Sunday) in contrast to the English service's twice (the second and fourth).

The German service book appeared to come from one of the constituent churches of the EKD.