Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Worship Wednesday: Kyrie Eleison

I have a confession to make. Are you ready? I am a cradle Lutheran. My mother faithfully took me to Sunday School and worship without fail, each week, where I would fidget in our pew, scribble pictures, accept bribes of candy bars in order to keep quiet during the sermon, and generally was disengaged with the whole process. A foundation was built somewhere along the line though, and as a 22 year old who had just graduated from college with a degree in biology and nowhere to use it I began my search for the God of my Lutheran heritage. The good news is that he found me and I have never been the same since.

It was then that I realized that I had not learned a darn thing about what it meant to be Lutheran. I had no clue about the liturgy. All that I remember from catechism was memorizing the Apostles' Creed. I had no idea that there was such a booklet as the "Small Catechism" by Martin Luther which contains explanations to things like the Creed, the Ten Commandment and the Lord's Prayer. As for the sacraments, all I knew was that I had to wait to be confirmed to partake of the Lord's Supper so I dutifully attended and appropriately wore a white dress to my confirmation service (with bright hot pink tights though!)

Why am I telling you this? Certainly not to criticize the pastors and teachers that I had in my childhood. Perhaps I was just zoned out and missed the whole catechetical experience. But on the other hand. . . perhaps the church as a whole had failed to understand the need to teach the faith to her youngest, those who be growing up and needing their faith, those who would eventually have their own children who needed their faith. So at 22 I began to devour scripture and a few years later off I went to seminary to learn more about who I was as a Lutheran and what this faith of ours is all about.

I want to share my passion with you as I have with my own congregation. I want to share with you all the things I never knew about our Lutheran identity and theology as a young person. I want to help you put some handles on the things that I never understood and frankly never had the audacity to even inquire about. That's what you will find here on Wednesdays. My hope is that it will as good for you as it has been for me.  So with that. . . the Kyrie!

Kurios in Greek means "Lord." In English we say Kyrie Eleison, "Lord have mercy." The biggest impression of my childhood around these words was a song that hit the Billboard Charts called  Kyrie by Mr. Mister. I never even put the two together; each week we chanted back and forth with the pastor, "Lord have mercy." Think about the impact of this sung prayer. . . first of all I teach my catechism kids that this piece of our liturgy is a SUNG PRAYER. What do we do when we are at the end of our proverbial rope? What shall we say when we have no answers, only more questions? What have human beings said since the beginning of creation in times of desperation, despair, sorrow and confusion? Kyrie Eleison. Lord, have mercy. 

This prayer is one that the church prays for all creation: for the peace of the world, for the unity of all Christians, for help, for salvation, for hope. Knowing that we can come into God's presence with intention and faith simply by uttering Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison, such a deep comfort. Let these words be your mantra on the journey, when you want to be in touch with God but haven't the words. . . these simply words say it all: LORD, have mercy! Amen.

Pastor Amy Little

1 comment:

  1. Great story Amy! I had the same experience, I grew up and knew nothing about the liturgy and hymns and what it meant to be Lutheran. Finally I got it and he found me too and told me to publish a hymnal and teach others liturgy and hymnody. I run into obstacles constantly in the ELCA with people in charge, including being rejected for going to seminary in the ELCA by myopic leaders who are afraid of someone who can do big things. And, I have my share of silly people in the ELCA in my neck of the country who don't do liturgy and cut most of it out. They have no regard or respect to the Divine Service we inherited, and are doing McChurch to "get er done"in an hour. I have been ignored by the worship committee and resigned from serving on it, and been told by one pastor to "cease and desist" on my trying to enlighten them. Told him to go to blazes the ignorant jerk and sent him several kudos from other churches in the country who use my materials. Yep, I believe firmly what Word Alone has come up with, the ELCA is a joke. You should see their office in Chicago, 12 stories of pretentiousness and a view of the airstrip at O'Hare. The building is sitting mostly empty since they fired most of the staff and they are still paying the rent on the space with our money we give them. Luther, my ancestor, would be raising hell with them right now. Thanks for your post.