So, there I was last night watching SUPERNATURAL on HULU via my PC (a world wherein we use acronyms and abbreviations is very fallen indeed) instead of my usual meditations with Die Bekenntnisschriften…when the character Sam Winchester mutters a Latin incantation (in the wrong tense and not using Ecclesial pronunciation as I desire) to keep a demon from leaving its host body. N.B. this was an episode of some 6 weeks past as I have no cable and have fallen behind on my scary favorites. Dean (Sam’s brother) says: “woa Sammy, HOW did you un-exorcise that demon?” To which Sam replies: “I just spoke the Latin exorcism backwards.”
So that’s how it works. For I have been wondering now for many years HOW the LORD’s Verba, the very creative, elemental, ontologically consecratory word of “IS” can become null and void. Now, I get it…the very learned and ‘language-gifted’ pastor loci simply speaks the Words of Institution backwards (has to be sotto voce, ‘cause I’ve never heard it) as the last table of crypto-Calvinists shambles un-piously back towards the pews. That’s it then…the Blood of The God/Man Immanuel—the remainder still found in the bottom of the plastic shot-glasses is changed back into Mogen-David rot-gut. Case Closed.
This is a relief to my own scarred conscious, since I have never been able to get over what happened at an Installation I participated in several years back. There in the vestry, as all of the participating brethren were putting on their cassocks, surplices, albs, jump-suits, track-suits, parachute pants, stoles, Kente scarves (to see Dr. Scaer’s maxim “Guys! This is the Missouri Synod…do whatever you want to!” live and in color, attend any installation or ordination) we all noticed the chuckling coming from one of the higher-up District payroll types in our midst. My eyes instantly were drawn to the reddish (although to be fair, not noticeable really at a distance; kind of like George Costanza’s angora sweater flaw) stain right on the front of his alb.
But what he said still burns my own piety (deficient as it can be at times). This “constitutional” overseer who should actually be a prince of theologians amongst his juniors said: “well, ha, ha, I guess I forgot to get this wine stain out after I spilled some on the alb during that last distribution.”
Sure, we knew that RECEPTIONISM lives, grows and thrives amongst our un-catechized flocks. But it still staggers one (of my sensitive nature anyway) to hear a pastor, a scholar, a seelsorger, so blithely and dismissively cancel out the Word of God.
I immediately went back to my Nestle-Aland after the installation service to check where in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Corinthians were the words wherein God explained how What IS His Body and Blood ceases to be so. I need a bigger Bible.
But, with the charismatic gifts laid upon my head last night in front of the glowing monitor, I have the truth that my floppy Bible did not manage to capture. This jovial, loveable, and caring man of God, must have, indeed HAD TO HAVE, simply spoken the Words of Institution backwards (in his own head) every time the Chalice left a Grandma Schmidt’s mouth or the stacked trays of jiggers departed from parishioner “A” to parishioner “B.”
That’s quick thinking on his part and even quicker backwards talkin.’ And I hear they can even talk out of BOTH sides of their mouth at one time.
Thanks to Sam Winchester and SUPERNATURAL I now understand how something truly Divine can become something… ‘missourian.’