Monday, January 13, 2014

One Minute Mass So Pastor Could Catch '49ers Playoff Game?

Rev. Tim Christensen, Pastor of Gold en Hills ECLA Church during one minute Mass
Sunday was the the conclusion of the National Football League's divisional playoffs.  The early game pitted the Carolina Panthers hosting the San Francisco '49ers.   On the East Coast, it was a 1  pm kick-off.  Alas, further inland, the starting time conflicted with some church services.

  The Right Reverend Tim Christensen, pastor of the Golden Hill Evangelical Lutheran Church in Butte, Montana, had a dilemma.  Christensen is an avowed '49ers fan and apparently nothing would get in the way of  this priest watching this playoff game, not even his ministerial obligation of an 11 am CST service (1 pm EST).

Someone on social media shared a jocular post about Christensen conducting a severely short service and quipped tongue in cheek that unless Catholics could get a "Microwave Mass" done in under three minutes, she would convert.  Prima facia, rushing through a rubric to watch a secular sporting event seems quite misguided. However watching the video made my jaw drop.


Christensen conducted his "service" in less than one minute, giving an abbreviated absolution of sins.  Perhaps it was cute to show his 49ers t-shirt under his vestments at the conclusion of the sham Divine Service.  But kissing his biceps in closing ala San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is less than reverend.  More importantly, inviting the congregation to a Eucharistic buffet of bread and wine seems sacrilegious, showing no respect for the sacramental union which is the real presence of the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in which even Evangelical Lutherans profess to believe.
It is ironic that the iconic ABC-TV sports journalist Howard Cosell once observed that: "The importance that our society attaches to sport is incredible.  After all, is football a game or a religion?  The people of this country have allowed sports to get completely out of hand."

It seems that rearranging one's schedule to fit in both church and a Superbowl party is one thing and a pastor holding a flimsy pro forma Mass to watch football is quite something else.
There is some suggestion that Rev. Christensen staged this stunt  to go viral as a joke or in an attempt to reach the unchurched through the internet.  If this is the case, then there is no clarifying afterword on the official church posted Youtube video, the Golden Hill ELCA Facebook page or the church's website.  Supposedly,  the Pastor texted "To The Win" that he did not let his congregation off that easily and gave a full homily.   But mocking the Mass without context is not "kosher" for clergy, especially up on an altar.  If it was a 'teachable moment", why was the apologetic also captured on video to put it in proper context?  


Post Scriptus-- Per the Montana Standard, Rev. Christensen intended the one minute mass as a prank and then conducted a traditional Divine Service.  His 18 year old son videotaped the tongue in cheek whirlwind worship session as he knew that his Dad would reveal his 49ers t-shirt.

Christensen thought that he would share the video on his personal social media page along with the Church's Facebook fan page, where people would understand the inside joke.  Yet the video went viral.  So let this be a lesson to anyone on the internet--inside jokes posted on the internet NEVER stay private and remain on your Permanent Record.

What do you think of the "One Minute Mass" by Rev. Tim Christensen
It fulfills a Sunday Obligation.
It fails to keep holy the Sabbath.
It shows a pastor leading his flock astray.
It makes a mockery of the Mass.
It reflects the day's priorites.
Who am I to judge?
Poll Maker

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