Saturday, September 22, 2007

a postilla is...

My inquiring mind has finally learned what a "postilla" is! Postilla is a Finnish word used for a collection of sermons. I've been reading about these postillas on various websites that talk about different Laestadian churches. You might know them as Finnish Apostolic Lutheran or First Apostolic Lutheran. I used to belong to the LLC branch of these churches (connected to the SRK in Finland) and I don't EVER remember hearing a postilla from Laestadius read.

By the way, if you want to possess one of these infamous postillas by Laestadius, I've seen them on recently. Only thirty or forty bucks. It could be an interesting conversation piece.

But I have been finding sites where people said one of these postillas by Laestadius were read every Sunday morning at their churches before the sermon was preached. I've been reading this master's thesis, The Roots and Development of the Laestadian Movement in Finland by Pekka Raittila. He has researched the history of this church with its many schisms and heresies, and it is quite complex. I'm still puzzling out which speakers and leaders belonged to which groups, but in the process, I have learned a little bit about these postillas.

Well, literacy was not very widespread at the time Laestadius wrote them, and many people could not read the Bible for themselves. So LLL wrote these postillas so that the few people who were literate could read them at their services. I believe it was in the 1700's when these postillas were written. I read this last night, but I was half asleep so I still don't remember the exact details. Well I guess that's okay, too. I'm reading a master's thesis, not writing one.

Okay, I'm going to take a little side trip here and tell you a story. Bear with me, now. There was a woman who always cut the ends off her baked potatoes before she baked them. Her daughter asked her why, and she said she did it because her mother had always done it that way. (Don't stop me if you've heard this before...just skim to the next part.) So she went back to her mom to ask her why she did it, and her mom said HER mom had always done it that way, cutting off the ends of the potatoes. When this lady asked her grandma why she did it, her grandma said because she baked them in a pan that was skinny, and they didn't fit if she didn't cut off the ends.

So the tradition had a purpose in the beginning, and at the end, it was just done because it had been done that way for years.

I think this postilla thing is the same way. Some of the Apostolic Lutheran members (or former members) say that the ministers still read these postillas from Lars Laestadius at each service, and it doesn't seem to make sense why they do that.

I think it is a tradition that is still practiced, but not for the same reasons it used to be. At the beginning of the tradition, it was done for a good reason. The tradition was carried on and brought to the United States when the Finnish people emigrated here. Now, the postillas are read (at least I think they are still read) and the tradition is carried on although the original need is no longer there.

There's my brilliant conclusion for the day. Whaddya think?

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