The following is a piece I wrote for "Higher Things" Magazine.
It appears in the Winter 2004 issue.
Their website is: http://www.higherthings.org/Default.asp
Light on the Lingo?
Bling-Bling – \BLING BLING\ noun - def. 1. jewelry such as silver, platinum, or diamonds, gold. 2. extremely expensive style of clothes, cars, general life-style; something “flashy”.
Not a “church word”, but fun to say.
Have you noticed certain words are used in certain circles? The words you use with your parents are different than you might use with your friends. And those words are not the same you would use with your baby brother.
The same is true for church. Many of the words we use in church aren’t used a lot outside of Sunday morning, but don’t let that scare you off! Here’s a handy Lutheran Lexicon for the “terminologically challenged”.
Absolution - Forgiveness. Offered by the pastor “in the stead…” (in the place of) “and by the command…” of Jesus.
Confession - 1) Admitting your sins 2) Declaring your beliefs
3) The set of beliefs that you hold true (your “confession”)
“The Confessions” refers to those historical documents which state our Lutheran beliefs – found in the Book of Concord
Evangelical - Having to do with the Gospel.
Sometimes abbreviated “Ev.” in the names of our churches.
The Greek word literally means “good (ev) message (angel)”
Incarnation - Coming “in the flesh”, literally. Jesus came as a human.
He was “incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary”.
Introit - From the Latin “Entrance”. The Psalm chanted as the pastor approaches (enters) the altar (chancel).
Justification - The idea that through Christ, God makes you just, or “right”.
We think of this as a one-time declaration of God.
Lectionary - The system of scripture readings chosen for the church year.
Liturgy - The form of public worship. Origins of this word indicate a public giving-out of “goodies”. The Pastor distributes the gifts of God (Word & Sacrament) in the liturgy.
Preaching - How God delivers His "bling-bling" (His Word) to the world through His pastors ("blingers"?)
Reconciliation - Restoring the relationship between God and sinners. Like a husband and wife who are separated and get back together.
Salutary - Helpful and health-ful.
Salvation - How God saves or salvages the sinner – making us new.
Like restoring an old car to its original condition.
Sanctification - The process by which the Holy Spirit makes you holy.
An ongoing work in the life of the Christian. Spiritual growth.
Stewardship - Managing one’s bling-bling (or all your “stuff”) in a godly way. Realizing it doesn’t belong to you in the first place.
Transfiguration - Changing appearance. This refers to a specific event in Jesus life when he got all bright and shiny (bling-bling?). Celebrated at the end of the season of Epiphany.
If you’re a real word-hound you can find more definitions online with the always-helpful “Christian Cyclopedia”: http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/
Rev. Tom Chryst is Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin.