BJS has found this series of articles written by The Rev Mark Hein. He is in the process of updating them and they will be published here. Part 1 of this article is available here.
Church Etiquette? What is that all about? Aren’t there more important things our church and our pastor should be doing than promoting etiquette? Well, you decide for yourself how important and relevant is the information provided in this series. As you will see, what we are talking about is more than just etiquette far more!
Part 2 – “Love” as the Key Ingredient
In all parts of our Christian life, love is the key ingredient. However, that love does not begin with us or have its origin in the world. Rather, it has as its fount and source the perfect love, abounding and ever-abiding love which God has shown toward us in Christ Jesus. It is the love of our heavenly Father who gave His only begotten Son as the one perfect and all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. It is the love of our Savior, Jesus, who willingly went the way of the cross for us, suffering for us, dying for us. It is the love, divine love, which drenches us in holy baptism. It is the love, divine love, which now occupies our hearts and our homes. Indeed, such love – divine love – now drives our thoughts, our actions and all our words… everything we say and convey… it is ALL based in love… Christ’s love.
St. Paul declares, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ESV)
So what does love have to do with etiquette? Everything! It is the driving force behind it. In Part 1, we noted that etiquette is defined as the rules and conventions governing correct or polite behavior.” Why do we follow such rules? Why is it our desire to engage in polite behavior? To have good manners? To follow established protocol? To respect and keep customs? To do all things with propriety and decorum? The answer is love. We do it all out of love first and foremost for the Lord our God and then, secondly, out of love for our fellow man.
With love comes proper etiquette because love – divine love – rules out being rude and crude. It rules out being uncaring and unkind. It rules out speaking about that which does not concern us. Love rules out being impatient and intolerant. It rules out putting someone down or speaking against them or about them behind their back.
As love – divine love – rules many things out, so too, it also insures that other things are present. For example, where there is divine love, there is going to be self-control. There is going to be discipline. There is going to be structure. There are going to be rules and there will be the faithful following of the same… all out of love.
We pray – O Lord, help us to do all things out of love – Your love for us, Your love in us. Help us to think before we act… before we speak… and do all things in ways which are pleasing to You and in keeping with Your Holy Word and will. This we pray in Jesus name. Amen.
The Rev. Mark H. Hein
Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church