Friday, October 21, 2005

Could be worse

Nothing like attending a conference with an ecumenical group to make you count your blessings. For all the crapola that Presbyterians have to contend with in our divided loyalties, at least we don't have to negotiate the minefield of deep-seated ethnic attachments.

One of the Lutheran clergywomen in our group rolled her eyes as she commented that, almost immediately upon her return home, her church would plunge into its annual Lefsa-making extravaganza. Her congregation is historically Norwegian and the yearly Lefsa sale is an important community event and fundraiser. They use up 800 pounds of potatos. The mind simply boggles.

The woman sitting next to her was a Lutheran pastor serving an historically Swedish congregation. I asked, ignorantly, if they made Lefsa also. The look of stunned horror on both their faces was like unto the look I might get if I'd asked a pair of Edinburghers if they like salsa on their oatmeal.

"No! Swedes DO NOT make Lefsa. They make tunnbrod!"

Like I said. Count your blessings.

Of course, we Presbyterians do have that Scottish heritage thang to deal with. Even congregations with not even a dozen full blood Scots will sometimes do the whole Kirkin' o' the Tartan Sunday.
At one church I served as an associate, a very tall woman in a new members class informed us that she played the bagpipes and would be delighted to play in worship whenever we wanted her to. In my humble opinion, the bagpipes were never intended as liturgical instruments and their use in worship should be strictly regulated. But then, I'm only 1/24 Scots or something like that.

A few days later, this woman made an appointment with the Senior Pastor. It seemed another interesting thing she wanted us to know was that she had only recently become a she. We would be receiving her letter of transfer from another congregation in our presbytery, but the name on their rolls was a man's name. She didn't plan to make a big public deal out of this in terms of her participation in our church, but she wanted the pastors to know. We appreciated that.

So--on the next Scot's heritage Sunday, we had our new member, the trans-gendered bagpiper, playing highland music in the parking lot as folks arrived for worship. Which is probably just what John Knox had in mind all along.


Songbird said...


Emily said...

Yes, I'm pretty sure most division in the Lutheran church today can be traced back to lefsa vs. tunnbrod vs. whatever German and Danish Lutherans make.

LutheranChik said...

German Lutherans are heavily into sausage and sauerkraut. And we prefer our potatoes made into hot potato salad with bacon, celery and onion, and a warm sweet-sour dressing. Lefse schmefse!;-)

(Actually, if favorite starchy foods were all that the Lutherans were quibbling about, you had a very good meeting, IMHO.)

will smama said...

You know, I was going to make a food comment, but as I moved onto the bagpiper I am became speechless.

You win.

Good night.

the reverend mommy said...

Actually, I want to know how your congregation is handling the trans-gendered member. Our transgendered member WAS a member of the church and people could not handle that John was now Lisa. How's that working?

peripateticpolarbear said...

I'm not even 1/24th Scottish, but had a bagpiper at my ordination. It was a surprise and was sweet---it was outside calling people to worship--didn't come inside, well actually the piper of the bags stayed outside, bagpipes themselves don't have independent locomotion powers.

Anyway, that whole scottish thing...funny, huh?

And I could have prevented the lefsa argument for you. The only way to bond Swedish and Norwegian Lutherans is to get them to unite in their opinions of German Lutherans.

Bag Lady said...

In my former (high church) parish, bagpipers have been "integrated" on several occasions for which I sang in the choir (we did top-shelf Anglican stuff).

Twice for funerals: "Amazing Grace" during the processional to the columbarium--which was incredibly haunting (and I speak as a classically trained musician!). Then once for a wedding, for the recessional, a clan "tune" (I forget the proper name for it). Also deeply moving.

Apostle John said...

Great story :)

Purechristianithink said...

Reverend Mommy--Since the transformation had taken place prior to her coming to that church, it was probably easier. No one there had known her as a man. There were no big incidents or objections that I know of---but a lot of people didn't know. I did run into her a few years after I had moved on from that church. She said she had transferred back to her old congregation, but she didn't say why. It might have been unspoken "bad vibes" that found her way to her, or her work may have moved her back to that area again.

Sue said...

Ummm...forgive my ignorance, but, what's a lefsa? Is it anything like a perogie? And how does it differ from a tunnbrod?

SpookyRach said...

Love the story!

I'm asking the same questions as Sue. If you don't put salsa on it, I haven't heard of it. Sigh.

Had a bagpiper at my wedding. Friend of my parents. Low brow wedding with high brow, normally astronomically paid bagpiper. It was great!

Bag Lady said...

Lefsa (also spelled lefse) is a gigantic tortilla made from cooked, mashed potatoes, mixed with flour and water (or milk and cream, if you do it properly), rolled thinner than a tortilla and baked on a huge grill.

Usually served spread with butter and a sugar-cinnamon mixture, rolled up.

High fat for extra energy in cold climes!

As for salsa -- there was the Norwegian who saw his first pizza and said, "Who upped on my lefse?" :)

I know plenty of Swedes who also refer to it as lefse. But then, our Scandinavian Lutheran community was much more integrated...

St. Casserole said...

Great story. Should be added to pastoral humor essay book!
I don't get the Lutheran ethnic stuff but I do get the Northern/Southern PCUSA stuff. I hear about this division often. The first year I used the Mission Book with devotionals, I felt really international. For non Presbyies: the Mission Book began in the Northern Church.

SpookyRach said...

Oh,YUM! Lefsa sounds wonderful!

Sue said...

mmmmmm........sugar-cinnamon. sounds delicious.