You know, I’ve thought about this before, and maybe even blogged about it, but it bears repeating I think. This morning as I was praying Lauds, it occurred to me why actions such as bowing the head, the body, and even the knee are so despised by the majority (it would seem) of Americans. The first reason usually given is, it’s Catholic. But I’m not even sure that is the problem (although I think it is related). Another reason, and I think this is a biggee, is that they really don’t get the real presence in the Supper. This is true to a large extent, but there are many fine, believing folks who do get it, but still are uncomfortable with bowing and genuflecting, etc. I have a theory that it goes to the very foundations of this country, the very core of our culture. The fact is, from the outset Americans are decidedly anti-monarchy. It was very important for the founders of the country to remove from the Presidency any ceremonial (although they still cheered like a King was coming to town when President Washington arrived). Ceremonies like bowing and kneeling are very much related to the idea of kingship and showing honor to the king, in the case of the church, the King being Christ himself. The reason Europeans generally wouldn’t blink an eye if they saw a pastor kneeling or bowing toward the altar is that they are accustomed to such honor and reverence being shown to kings. The truth is, and I think this is a large part of why our bowing and genuflecting is so rejected, is that it is simply un-American. You just don’t do that stuff. It is not in the fabric of our culture. Because our people are not taught to show that kind of reverence towards our government leaders, they find it utterly confusing to see a pastor bowing the head at the name of Jesus, or bowing the knee out of reverence and humility for the Body and Blood of Christ.
And yet, Christ is not seen in the Scriptures as being a President, but a King, and not just any king, a King that is owed reverence and godly fear. Perhaps in our teaching and preaching it would help if we emphasized the Biblical concept of Jesus’ divine royalty and kingly identity, and perhaps then people would better understand why “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, of those on earth, and of those under the earth.” Just a thought. Comments?