28 July 2009

Gospel Processions

Quick riff on Gospel Processions:

Every Sunday? Only at Festival days? Presider only? Crucifix? Torches? Verger? Book beaerer?

As for me and my house: Every Sunday (except in Lent), book bearer, crucifix optional depending on whether he shows up with the right shoes and long pants.

What do you guys do?


The Rev. BT Ball said...

Festival Days only. Crucifix, book bearer, presider reading. No torches, yet.

Chad Myers said...

Do Lutherans use Crucifixes? Pardon my ignorance. Where I grew up, it was strict crosses (Crucifix was one of those strange things that Catholics did).

As far as Gospel procession, why not every time! :)

Also what about incense or the Gloria Tibi Domine?

The Rev. BT Ball said...

We have an altar crucifix and a processional crucifix at our parish. Chad, why not? Sounds good to me.

Incense is used in some parishes, but those are few. No torches because we don't have any.

The Rev. BT Ball said...

I forgot, we also have Christ crucified in stained glass in the transcept window.

Pr. H. R. said...

We do a mini Gospel procession to the font, which is up by our chancel in the center, on Sundays when I have a server.

On festivals, where we often have quite a few servers, we'll do as much as we have servers for: cross, torches, book, incense (the last item we use only on Epiphany and Easter Vigil).


WM Cwirla said...

Procession Cross/Crucifix - Nothing at stake here. Either one will do.

Lots of other possibilities:
Gloria Tibi Domine? (That's in the hymnal)
Chanted Gospel?
Choir sings Alleluia Verse?

The list goes on.....

Rev. Wright II said...

Tonight at the Elder's meeting I get to bring up the practice of processing the crucifix/processional cross. My plan is to use it on Sundays when the Lord's Supper is celebrated, which I also hope in the near future will be every Sunday, and on festival Sundays.
Any thoughts on good ways to present what the procession is, how it works, and the benefits to the congregation in such a practice? Thanks in advances!

Reformationalist said...

Dear brother Wright, the best way to introduce a crucifix is done by following the event in which someone donates the crucifix to the congregation; it greased the skids in two congregation in which I have previously served.

Robert. [Schaibley]

William Weedon said...

We use it every Sunday. However, only on festivals does the Cross accompany, and only on the feasts do the torches accompany book and cross.

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

My parish has them on: (a) Christmas Eve; (b) Christmas Day; (c) Epiphany; (d) Easter Sunday; (e) Ascension Day; and (f) Pentecost.

We have a processional crucifix, torchbearers, book bearer, and presiding minister in the procession. Incense had been used and hopefully may/will be restored in the near future.

The Alleluia Verse is sung by the Presiding Minister in the chancel. Then a Sequence Hymn is sung by the Congregation, during which the procession forms and moves. The Gospel Acclamation ("Glory to You, O Lord.") is are sung. The Gospel is read. The Gospel Acclamation ("Praise to You, O Christ") is then sung, after which the procession returns and the Hymn of the Day begins.


Chad Myers said...

@Rev. BT. Ball: Thanks for your response!

I grew up LCMS and was taught that we don't use crucifixes (like the Catholics do) because, unlike the Catholics, we worship Christ raised, whereas the Catholics wish to keep Christ on the cross (or some other such nonsense).

There is a point somewhere in there that seemed valid and still does somewhat today. Catholics recognize two forms of the cross for a valid Mass: the Sacrifice of Christ (Crucifix) and Christ Victorious (Christ appearing in risen glory in front of an empty cross).

The Crucifix appeals more to my sensibility, but my Lutheran Pastor does seem to have a small theological point about The Cross representing the symbol of Christ's victory as opposed to the morbidity of the particulars of how he achieved that victory.

Personally, being vividly reminded of Christ's sacrifice usually helps keeps me on track with my faith (no matter how bad I have it now, it's not THAT bad).

Though I'm not crazy about the Mexican/Hispanic Crucifixes which have all the vivid gory detail of the bleeding scourge wounds. That's a little TOO poignant reminder for me

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

The crucifix to me signifies God's gift to us, that our sins are on that cross, bought and paid for.

My parents grew up with the "christ isn't on the cross because he's raised" definition. But then I ask, is the manger in your Christmas creche empty? Because Christ certainly isn't a babe any more.

Reformationalist said...

Chad,your Lutheran pastor isn't being Lutheran when he pictures the cross as something morbid to get beyond. The cross is victory -- that's the Good Friday gospel. The empty tomb is the certification that the Good Friday cross is victory. Jesus says, "Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Myself" -- to which St. John adds, wanting to clearly point to the cross, "This He said, signifying what death He would die. [Jn 12.31-33]

It is the Reformed whose theology causes them to run as quickly as possible through Good Friday to get to Easter.

Lutherans ought see it differently and find great comfort and assurance in the crucifix, as did the Old Testament sinners when looking to the serpent on Moses' stick. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up ...." [Jn 3.14]


Robert. [Schaibley]

WM Cwirla said...

The empty cross is simply a depiction of the instrument of death. Today it would be a hypodermic needle or an electric chair. The corpus on the cross is the statement - Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. No corpus, no blood, no forgiveness, no life. That's what makes the crucifix a uniquely Christian symbol. (The bare cross is not uniquely Christian! The Egyptian ankh comes close.)

The Theology of the Cross declares the death of Christ to be His victory, of which Easter is the public proclamation and vindication. But the victory of Christ is in His death on a Friday afternoon. "It is finished."

Hence processional crucifixes.

Paul McCain said...

I've often pondered the use of a crucifix in Lutheranism, and why it fell out of us, and how best to get it back "in play."

The notion that I most often here is that an empty cross is a symbol of the resurrection.

Deconstructing this myth, I have thought:

(1) Jesus did not rise from the cross, he rose from the tomb. Right?

(2) The cross would have been empty whether or not he rose from the dead. Right?

How then did we construct the myth that an "empty" cross is a symbol of the Resurrection?

Any ideas on this "urban legend" in much of American [Protestantized] Lutheranism?

Anonymous said...

At Immanuel (Alexandria, Virginia, USA), we have a Gospel Procession during the seasons of Christmas, Epiphany, and Easter, on the Festivals of Pentecost and Holy Trinity, and other lesser festivals. The Processional Crucifix and two torches accompany.

+Christopher Esget

Pastor Peters said...

Every Sunday in ordinary time, processional crucifix, acolyte with candle lighter, assisting minister, and presiding minister (eucharistic vestments).

Every Feast or Festival Sunday, processional crucifix, torch bearers (2), book bearer (lectionary -- when are we going to get a decent book or book cover from CPH???), assisging minister, presiding minister (eucharistic vestments)...sometimes banner bearer, sometimes incense

Evening Prayer, large candle, processional crucifix, incense, presiding minister (cope)

Rev. David A. Kind said...

At ULC in Minneapolis we have processions during Eastertide and on feast days. Normally its what I call a simple procession - Crucifer, torches, celebrant.

On big feast days, like Easter, Christmas, Epiphany, etc. We do - Thurifer, Crucifer, Torches, Gospel Book, Celebrant. Chanted Gospel on these days too.

Chad Myers said...


The feeling I got from various pastors and teachers about the Crucifix thing was that that's what the Catholics do and so we definitely don't want to be like them.

I got that feeling a lot from my instructors and leaders and, looking back, it seems there was/is a lot of superstition about being "too close to those Catholics."

Luther didn't throw out everything in Catholicism, in fact, he kept the vast majority of it. Yet, there was/is this modern superstition.

Luther also held that Mary was ever-virgin, immaculately conceived, and even endorsed praying the Rosary (though he shortened the Ave Maria to get rid of the request for intercession). But the first part of the Ave Maria he still encouraged.

Yet, the Rosary was treated as a tool of Satan when I was growing up and it was more of the "Mary Worship" those Catholics did.

I should phone up some of my old Pastors and show them the sermons and writings where Luther advocated the Rosary and the Catholic Marian theology (save for the intercession parts).

jeff-mn said...

Adding to Fr. Kinds comments above:

On non-festival Sundays at ULC, Pastor Kind processes to the Gospel horn of the altar for the proclamation of the Holy Gospel. (the OT & Epistle are still read from the lectern and not from the Epistle horn).


Paul McCain said...

Chad, I'd be curious to see where you have found Luther advocating the use of a rosary. I don't check back here often, so can you drop me a line at:


Would love to see those quotes.

Thanks for your comments.