Sunday, June 12, 2011

You Never Know How the Spirit Will Blow

So if it were up to me, I would be fine going my whole career having never conducted a Polka Mass. I could have ended my ministry never having to sing  "Please Forgive me" to the tune "Please release me..." (which isn't even a polka but more Country Swing)

But as those of us in the ministry know, it's not up to me.  People in the midwest LOVE their Polkas.  I like a good polka.  At a wedding or a beer garden.  But it's really just a matter of taste that I don't care for it in church. And worship is not just about my taste.  I get a kick out of people who insist worship can only be classical music or German chorales and criticize those who like rock or pop or polka music by saying "oh they think worship is all about emotion" without admitting that it's all emotion for them too-- they just get their jollies from different music.
So I showed up to lead the community polka service this morning.  Or I thought I was going to lead it.  Really the polka band was leading it.  Already my nose was out of joint.  No mike for me, no podium for me to preach.  Where am I supposed to preach from?  "Oh last year the pastor didn't preach."   Immediately I wished I had listened to my first instinct which was to take this Sunday for vacation.

I had about 15 minutes before my sermon to figure out how I was going to hold my sermon and bulletin in one hand (a sermon nobody wanted to listen to) and the mike in the other and preach standing behind the band.  When it came time to preach I just left my sermon folded up and talked about Pentecost and the gifts of the spirit and how the spirit brings us all together even though we are all from different churches.  Honestly I don['t know what I said.  I made few jokes which I NEVER DO and people even laughed.  

Whatever I said, people told me it was perfect.  The few people I admitted to that I just made it up five minutes before were amazed and said they had no idea it was off the cuff.

I'm not writing this to brag about how wonderful I am.  I'm not wonderful.  I don't do this sort off the cuff stuff.  I don't even like to pray off the cuff.  It was the Holy Spirit.  It blows where it will

But next week I'll go back to the manuscript.


  1. I've only heard the polka mass once, and it was at our Lutheran Church when the then secretary's relatives came and played the music for it. I kinda went under protest, but I loved it. I liked the directness and simplicity of the words and music. I don't know if it would wear well, but once was good. I've heard that it was invented near here. By Father Perkovich. Now that we Lutherans are worshiping at the Catholic Church I may learn more. But the now-gone priest was from India and the one they are waiting for is from India, I don't expect to hear any polka soon.

  2. I'd heard rumors of a polka mass, but thought it must be an urban legend. We in the east aren't even sure polka is real. (Of course, we think klezmer is cool, and get a school vacation for Yom Kippur.)

    If musical choices were left tup to me, every hymn would be plainsong; astonishingly, the choices are rarely left up to me. So yesterday, our celebration of LBW Setting One was punctuated by a jazz-rock fusion band and some taize.

    Anyway, I'm glad you preached. A special-event service, even more than another, needs to be explicitly rooted in the proclamation of the Word.

  3. No Polka and no sloppy joes...and people on the East Coast think they have culture. Hmph!

  4. It's a serious problem. In fact, it's getting harder and harder to find Jell-O molds at our potlucks, because so many people like to whip up a kale salad or blue-corn-tahini nachos. It makes me fear for the future of the church.

  5. Google: Polka Mass goes back to 1973, devised by Father Perkovich.
    He was the "traveling Priest" at St. Mary's the first Sunday that the Lutherans worshiped there, in May, 2011. I saw him walk through a group of Lutherans to go get a doughnut and coffee. So I can say that I saw someone who saw the Pope. says that it was started in 1972. So even Catholics disagree. ha.

    Here's a reference from Spillville, IA.