If you've seen any part of the 2010 World Cup broadcast from Africa thus far, you have noticed the pleasant sound of the vuvuzela rising from the crowd to produce the most incorporating and relaxing sound which helps one assimilate into being part of a "football" match in South Africa.
And if you have watched any of the matches, you certainly know that the vuvuzela makes no such sound. Instead, the sound which these large plastic horns makes is annoying, loud, and sounds - as many have said - like a hive of buzzing bees. The broadcasters said the noise is even worse being at the matches in person than that which we spectators receive across the live airwaves.
Now the sound of these vuvuzelas is so incredible annoying that almost every country has complained and many of the players as well. It got bad enough that the FIFA World Cup suits were considering banning the vuvuzelas from every stadium. They discussed it and decided that the annoying instruments would not be banned. The reason they gave in defense of the instrument was this: that the vuvuzela was a uniquely South African way of celebrating football matches and to take away the vuvuzela would insult the South African host nation and its long tradition of using the vuvuzela. Despite its annoyance to the rest of the world, the vuvuzela was staying.
Perhaps we should learn a lesson from the vuvuzela. As Christians, we stick out in this world like a vuvuzela during a World Cup match, and we can be just as annoying to the world. With our Godly ethical system - e.g. the way we protect the sanctity of life, and uphold marriage - and the way in which we proclaim Jesus Christ as the only way by which a man can obtain heaven, we are the greatest annoyance to the world and they cannot bear it. Jesus Christ is the ultimate vuvuzela stumbling block for our World Cup world. (Sorry Jesus, just making a point.)
But seriously, we Christians are in the world, not of it. We look and act like others, yet we stick out simply because Jesus Christ has called us to himself. He has made us His baptized and forgiven children. He is forming us through repentance and forgiveness, confession and absolution into His own image even now. We are God's people and our lives reflect this.
This I think speaks to another point.
In the World Cup the South Africans were allowed to blow their vuvuzelas because it was inherently part of their football worship. If you took it away from them, it would be taking away from them part of who they are . It is the same with Christian worship. If we are told that we must take away part of the way in which we rightly worship the Lord, and if we are told we must change because others will be annoyed and put-off by the way the Divine Service is ordered, then we lose a part of ourselves. We lose a part of our identity. Yet, we don't lose it because it is our tradition, no, we lose a part of who we are because we take away the way in which God gives us his magnificent gifts and makes us who we are. If we remove the means by which God deigns to give us forgiveness, by word and sacrament, then we lose the very means by which we are God's people.
Who knew the vuvuzela could be a catechetical tool.
P.S. If you have an iSomething, you can download a vuvuzela as an app. Get it here.