#1 Why Do Lutherans Light Candles?
As a symbol of lighting up the world, Lutherans light candles to:
- Represent how Christ lit up the world.
- Enhance Liturgical rituals.
- Connect with the sacredness of their ancient history (dating back 500+ years); The lighting pays homage to early days of worship.
- To celebrate Advent, a Christian holiday observing the liturgical season (derived from the Latin term for ‘coming,’ signifying the incarnation of Christ).
- Pink candles are lit on the 3rd Sunday of the Advent holiday.
- Many light a candle at Christmas to symbolize the light of the world.
- Two-alter candles may symbolize the split natures of Christ (God and mortal).
- To incite hope.
- To inspire a feeling of eternalness.
John 8:12 states:
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”’
- “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” – Micah 5:2.
- “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7.
- Clergyconfidential.com – What’s Up with the Pink Candle? December 10th, 2014.
- Breadandsalt.org – Why Do We Strike a Light in Church? December 27th, 2016.
#2 Why Do Lutheran Pastors Wear Collars?
A Cassock is defined as: “An item of clerical clothing a long, sheath-like, close-fitting, ankle-length robe worn by clergy members of some Christian denominations.” As a standard garb that has been adorned since Roman times, the conservative Reformation of Lutheranism still held on to many Catholic influences.
Similar to a Catholic priest, a Lutheran minister would wear a collar and robe for worship service. The reasons for this are:
- The collar is seen as a reminder of faith
- It’s an expression of his duty
- White collars are a historical sign of ordination; honoring tradition
- White symbolizes purity and sinlessness
- It serves as a distinctive uniform for immediate recognition
- It serves as an outward authority
- It is around the neck as a symbol of human fragility and vulnerability to an omnipotent God
- “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
- “And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5:10.
- Elca.org – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Organization – 50 Years of Ordained Women; August 11th, 2019.
#3 Why Do Lutherans Practice Infant Baptism?
Lutherans are one of the few Protestant faiths that support Infant Baptism. Aligning themselves with the foundations of Catholicism, Lutherans support infant baptisms because:
- The Bible says so – Acts 2:38 says: “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
- Lutherans take a literal translation of the Bible – Rather than reading things symbolically or permitting room for interpretation, a pillar of Lutheranism is to take each Scripture as the explicit word of God. Religions such as Catholicism do not place sola scripture at the forefront of their worship-style, but it is the primary guide for Lutherans.
- They believe it saves the infant’s soul – An infant is baptized for the same reasons that any Christian is, to guarantee deliverance to a heavenly afterlife.
John 3:5 states:
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” A Lutheran may find it foolish not to head these words. Not all Lutherans will baptize their children, and some will want them to decide at the age of maturity. Nonetheless, infant baptisms are supported in the Church, accepted, and embraced.
- “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” – Acts 1:5.
- Why Lutherans Baptize Everyone – Including Babies; Peace Church DFW; October 9th, 2012.
#4 Why Do Lutheran Pastors Wear Robes?
The reason why Lutheran Pastors adorn robes are:
- To distinguish themselves
- To remain consistent and uniform
- To wear white, the color of ‘purity’
- To make decisions simple, focus on worship (not superficiality or appearance)
- To keep a modest look that does not display body shape or outline
- To honor tradition; the historically-acceptable uniform for the clergy
- To embrace Catholic roots; dismissing many aspects of Catholicism, but not attire
- To remember Jesus’s choice to wear robes
- To conform to outward expectations
Most considerably, it removes a wardrobe and superficial decisions for the Pastor or Minister, allowing them more time for what is important – God.
- The Zion Lutheran Church and School Organization adds: “Most of today’s vestments go back to the early centuries of Christianity. The white robe, called an alb (Latin: albus meaning white), is a 5th Century garment. The colored band of cloth worn by a Pastor, called a stole (Latin: stola), has pre-Christian origins in the synagogue, and has been worn by ordained clergy since the 6th Century. The stole is sometimes likened to that of a yoke worn by beasts of burden or servant animals such as oxen. (Read Mt. 11:29-30 to see how Jesus used this term.) Thus, the stole symbolizes that the Pastor is a servant of God to His holy people. The chasuble, the flowing overgarment that you observed me wear, is sometimes worn by the celebrant at Holy Communion. Its roots and usage are from the 4th Century.”
- Pastor Q&A – Why Do Pastors Wear Robes?; Zion Lutheran Church; April 29th, 2020.
#5 Why Do Lutherans Make the Sign of the Cross?
The reasons why Lutherans make the sign of the cross are:
- To honor Martin Luther, the founder of Lutheranism, known to make this gesture
- To remember Christ and his death
- To pay homage to their heritage
Lutherans make the sign of the cross during these holy occasions:
- Within the Sacrament of Baptism.
- Within the Sacrament of Communion, after the ‘Blessed is he.’
- During Ordination (Luther’s Work; 53:126).
- In Prayer (Martin Luther suggested that one make the sign of the cross before and after a prayer, which should be done multiple times a day- at least morning and night).
The sign is also made during:
- Confessions of sins or when seeking forgiveness
- In absolution of aforenoted sins
- During any blessing
- When reading the Gospel
- During a sign of danger; superstitious warder or talisman
- At the close of the Nicene Creed
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9.
- “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” – Romans 10:9-11.
- The Lutheran View of the Sign of the Cross and Prayer of the Saints; “The symbol done upon us when we are baptized.”
#6 Why Do Lutherans Celebrate Lent?
The reasons why Lutherans celebrate Lent and Lenten season are to:
- Prepare for Easter
- Offer atonement, sacrifice, and penance
- Lose something as Jesus did
- Challenge oneself with denial
- Repent for sins
- Reflect for a season
- Honor tradition
Lent lasts for 40 days, a significant number in the Bible and the practice was nearly done away with during the period of religious Reformation. Denominations such as Presbyterians, Anglicans, Baptists, and Lutherans have begun to recently incorporate fasting into their Lenten sacrifice.
The ultimate goal is to fast and prepare for Easter’s message, centered upon the resurrection of Jesus and a victorious conclusion to an immortal depiction of death.
- “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:16-18.
- Trinitylansdale.com – Trinity Lutheran Church – Ash Wednesday; The Beginning of Lent; February 12th, 2015.