Saturday, May 28, 2011

FW: A 12 Step for Clergy

Pastors and NotPastors…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Saturday, May 28, 2011 10:14 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: A 12 Step for Clergy


Hi.  My name is Larry and I'm a Pastor.  Hi, Larry.  So goes the standard opening line of the twelve step I am starting for Pastors who are either embarrassed or ashamed that they are Pastors OR for those who wish they were not Pastors.  I am sure I will not have much trouble drumming up members of my little group.

First we have those who refuse clerical collars and insist up dressing "just like everyone else" (translation, khakis and polo or tee).  They insist that being a Pastor does not make them different and so they eschew anything that might distinguish them as Pastors -- especially vestments or a uniform.

Second we have those who refuse to be called Pastor (often in concert with those above).  They bristle at being called Reverend, Pastor, Father, or Brother and rather enjoy being called Larry.  They see the moniker of Pastor (or other similar title) to be distancing from people and they would rather just be one of the guys.

Third we have those who will dress up like a Pastor on Sunday but look like Bubba every other day of the week.  They dress up like Pastor out of guilt or duty but they don't like it and they certainly would ditch the Pastor clothes or vestments if they could get away with it.  Often, these like to be called Pastor but they want people to know that they can be holy on Sunday and just one of the guys the rest of the time.

Fourth we have those who entered the ministry for whatever reason and actually wish to leave but their education prepared them for little else and they need a paycheck after all.  They also do not want to face the guilt of turning their back upon God (remember Jonah) and so they are Pastors but it is pretty clear to the folks they serve that they are not comfortable in the Pastoral role.

Fifth we have those who believe that it is a false piety to be called Pastor or to look like a Pastor and so they show their genuine piety in that no one could ever mistake them for clergy.  These people might actually believe that being a Pastor and looking like one is a lower rung of the righteousness ladder than just about any other legit vocation.

Sixth we have those who love being Pastors and don't know what it is like to take a day off or time away or wear ordinary clothing.  These are the real addicts.  Family, friends, home, and life all come way down on the totem pole of priorities.  We have them come just to sit and make the rest of those at the meeting feel even worse.  Actually, these are our role models.  Lord knows we all really want to be like them!!

Let me know if you want to join me.... we meed Sundays at 1 pm (after the charade is over) and our meetings last only about an hour... (or as long as it takes to commiserate about our dilemma)...

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FW: 1856 Ordination Rite Translation



Feed: The ABC3s of Miscellany
Posted on: Saturday, May 28, 2011 9:35 AM
Author: ABC3+
Subject: 1856 Ordination Rite Translation




1856 Ordination Rite Translation

Translator's Note:

The text below is a translation of the German Church-Agenda for the Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states.

Kirchen-Agende für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden. (St. Louis: Druckerei der Deutschen Ev. Luth. Synod, 1856).

The ordination rite is taken from pages 171 – 176 of the aforementioned book. The numbers appearing in brackets [ ] correspond to the original page numbering of the Kirchen-Agende.

The aforementioned Kirchen-Agende was translated into English in 1881; however, the translation omitted several parts including the ordination rite translated in this document.

Church Liturgy for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1881).

 Albert B. Collver, III
1998 Epiphany 5





The ordainer steps with his assistant to the altar. On the steps of the altar stands the one to be ordained. At the conclusion of the song, the ordainer and his assistant turn around facing toward the one to be ordained and the first one says:


Our Lord Jesus Christ said after his resurrection to his disciples (John 20): "Peace be with you! Just as the Father sent me, also I am sending you. And when he said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive now the Holy Spirit! Whomever's sin you remit, it will be remitted to him and whosoever you retain, to that one it will be retained."

And later before his Ascension he said to them (Matt 28): "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go there and teach all peoples and baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to hold all, which I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world."

And after he ascended above all heavens, so that he fulfilled all things, he appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as shepherds and teachers, that the saints would be prepared, for the work of the Office, so the body of Christ will be built up. (Eph. 4:11ff.)

Therefore the office, which preaches reconciliation, is setup by the Lord himself. The office is of the Spirit, who judges the living and the dead. The office of the New Testament is not held by one who is fit of himself, but he who is fit is [fit] because of God. They are ambassadors in the stead of Christ, God admonishes through them, and they bear God's office full of exuberant clarity. (2. Cor. 3:5)

Therefore you ought also to adorn it in all respects, as St. Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus. For a bishop should be blameless, a man of one wife, who has believing, obedient children with all respectability, who administers his own house well (but if someone does not know how to administer his own house, how will he provide for the congregation of God?). [172] [A bishop ought be] not stubborn, not angry, sober, moderate, not a wine swiller, not a braggart, not dishonest working with his hands, virtuous, pure, chaste, just, holy, hospitable, kind, not a brawler, not avarice, gentle, not a novice, so that he does not puff himself up and fall into the judgment of the Blasphemer, apt to teach, because he holds on to the Word, which is certain and able to teach, so that he be able to exhort through the salutary teaching and to reprove the gainsayer. He must also have a good reputation from those who are outside, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Blasphemer's trap. He should persist with the reading, with exhortation, with teaching and not disregard the gift, which was given to him through the prophecy with the laying on of the elder's hands. He should wait, [and] contemplate, so that he will increase in all things manifest. He should have concern for himself and the teaching and remain steadfast in his task. For in whatever he does, he will bless himself and his hearers. – Most of all in the same way the holy Apostle in his exhortation to the elders called to Ephesus (Acts of the Apostles 20.) recently united, thus he said, "Thus, now take care of yourself and of the flock, which the Holy Spirit has appointed you under as bishop, to tend the congregation of God, which he purchased through his blood."

All this makes plain for you, what a high and holy office this is, into which you were called, and that what the Apostle said is certainly true, "Whoever desires the office of bishop desires a wonderful work."


Here the one to be ordained kneels down.


Therefore, I ask you now, beloved brother in the Lord Jesus Christ, before the eyes of God, our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy angels, also in the hearing of this congregation, whether you, after careful consideration are ready to take upon you this holy office, and according to the ability that God gives [unto you], to execute and administer [it] according to every pleasure of the Lord and Arch-Shepherd of this congregation?




Yes, I am willing after earnest consideration for the holy office, which God has called me to be placed upon me; I solemnly vow and pledge before God and his congregation [173] according to the ability that God gives to execute and administer it according to every pleasure of the Lord, the Arch-Shepherd and Bishop of Souls.


The ordaining pastor continues:


But do you also confess that you are obliged to carry out in accordance with his office, in the three chief Creeds of the church, the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian, as in the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, both catechisms of Luther and the Formula of Concord are found a pure and correct explanation and exposition of God's Word and Will? And are you willing to execute on account of this your office according to these confessional writings of our holy church and to do this to your death?




Yes, I confess the three chief Creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, both catechisms of Luther and the Formula of Concord as the pure, correct explanation and exposition of the divine Word and Will; I confess the same as my own confession and intend to perform my office until my death truly and diligently in the same way. May God strengthen me through his Holy Spirit! Amen.


The ordaining minister speaks again:


Upon this your promise before God and us, we ask God, the Father of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, the one Lord of the harvest, that he, who called you to his Office, make you able through his Holy Spirit. May he grant, that you give no one offense, lest in this way the office is slandered, but demonstrate yourself in all things as a servant of God, in great patience, in afflictions, in needs, in anxieties, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in work, in watching, in fasting, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in friendliness, in the Holy Spirit, in pure love, in the Word of Truth, in the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left hand, through honor and dishonor, through malicious rumors and good rumors, as a seducer and yet truthful, regarded as unknown and yet known, as dying and behold, you live, as beaten, and not yet killed, as [174] a mourner, but at all times cheerful, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, but yet having all things. (2 Cor. 6.) The Lord gave you, therefore, to endure and to do the work of an evangelistic preacher, that you may be able to appear on that great day before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give a common answer, to the strict and just judge of the living and the dead, to receive praise and honor out of his hand and to shine as the heavenly splendor and as the stars forever and ever!


Next the assisting ministers lay hands on [him] and each speak a biblical wish.


Then the ordainer speaks again.


We consign you now through the imposition of our hands to the holy office of the Word and Sacraments of God, the Trinity, ordain and consecrate you to the service of the holy church in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!


The other fellow ordaining ministers answer:


Amen. Amen.


Then all the ministers pray together:


Our Father … forever and ever! Amen.

The ordainer again:


Let us pray! Merciful God, heavenly Father, you have spoken to us through the mouth of your dear Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. "The harvest is great, but the workers are few – pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he send workers into the harvest." By this your divine command we pray from the heart, that you would give abundantly this your servant together with us and everyone, whom you called to your office, your Holy Spirit, that we may spread your Gospel, continue truly and strongly against the Devil, World, and Flesh, in order that your Name be hallowed, your kingdom increase, your will be done. Put a stop also to all your enemies, who oppress your Name, destroy your kingdom, oppose your will, place a limit and end, and wherever your servants bear witness and work, distinguish your witness and the work of your hands to the glory of your most holy Name and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.




The ordainer says to the ordained:


Thus lead and tend the flock of Christ, that you have been entrusted with, and watch [it] well, not under compulsion but willingly, not for the sake of vile gain, but from the bottom of your heart, not as one who rules over people, but become an example for the flock; that you may receive the unfading crown as an inheritance when the Arch-Shepherd appears. The Lord bless you from above and make you a blessing for many, that you may produce much fruit and your fruit remain for eternal life!


The ordained answers:




Afterwards one sings: "Lord God, We Praise You …" or "Now Thank We All …", whereupon the Holy Meal begins with the Words of Institution. The ministers accompany the newly ordained to the Table of the Lord.




If an already ordained minister enters a new parish, allow the installation of him to proceed in the same manner, only that the conferring [of the office] not happen in general, but after answering the questions one of the following prayers beneath the laying on of hands is spoken, and after that: "Go Now To That Place …"



Two Prayers

For use after the answering of the installation questions.


Merciful God, heavenly Father, you who have fatherly comforted and promised us through your holy apostle Paul, that it is your good pleasure, O heavenly Lord and Father, to save all who believe through the foolish preaching of the crucified Christ. We pray from the bottom of our hearts, that you would bestow with Divine grace and grant and impart to this your servant, whom you have called to your Holy Preaching Office, your Holy Spirit. In the same way grant and impart strength to him against all trials of the Devil and make him wise and able to lead, your costly bought sheep with your salutary and true Word according to your divine will to the praise and glory of your Holy Name, through Jesus Christ! Amen.





O Lord Jesus Christ, you the eternal Son of God who sits on high at the right hand of your heavenly Father, give gifts to the men on earth and send them shepherds and teachers, that Holy men be prepared for the work of the office and the building of your spiritual Body: we say from the heart to you praise, honor, thanks, that you have given your congregation once more a shepherd, and we pray that you would bestow your Divine grace to him and to us, that we may do what is due to you, to maintain faith and good conscience until death and obtain eternal life with all the elect. Amen.


The assisting minister receives a kind of ordination, as pastor, each case with respect to the congregation, whom he should serve chiefly, and where possible in their midst.


On the day of ordination or installation, the new pastor does not preach, but his entrance speech follows on the immediate following Sunday.




The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord illuminate his face upon you and be gracious to you!

The Lord lift up his continence upon you and give you peace. Amen.

Originally posted on Logia's Blogia  (click here for original link).


Original German Below.


Ordination 1856 MA German

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FW: This is one of our own John Klinger's pet projects...

Thanks to Pr. Weedon for the URL of this project on Walther. Click on his name below…


Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Saturday, May 28, 2011 3:34 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: This is one of our own John Klinger's pet projects...


...and it looks to be shaping up amazingly:  Walther. Check out the trailer!  John will be leading the Bible Class on this when it is released this fall.  I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

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FW: O Herre Gud, miskunde dig



Posted on: Saturday, May 28, 2011 3:47 PM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: O Herre Gud, miskunde dig


Here is my translation of "O Herre Gud, miskunde dig" (attr. Hans Tavsen, 1528), from Nutzhorn (vol. 1, p. 100). Essentially an interpolation of the Our Father, it formed the hymn for evening prayer in Jutland during the early stages of the Danish Reformation. Its title in Chr. Pedersen's Malmøsalmebog (1533) demonstrates this: "Den aftensang, som i Judland siunges med Antiphoner, Psalmer, og Magnificat." It was sung to "Deus misereatur nostri," i.e., the tune for Luther's paraphrase of Psalm 67, "Es wollt uns Gott genädig sein" ["May God Bestow on Us His Grace"].

O LORD, have mercy on us all,
See us on earth below Thee!
We are Thy children poor and small,
And as Our Father know Thee.
In heaven high Thou seated art,
And we mid mortal dangers
On earth implore Thee from our heart,
Send us not hence as strangers,
Nor in Thy wrath forsake us!

2. O Father, let Thy kingdom grow,
And thwart the devil's pleasure,
Defend us from the harmful foe;
Grant grace in fullest measure,
That we as children Thee obey,
To Thy good reign be given.
Thy will be done on earth alway,
As it is done in heaven,
In all good things instruct us.

3. Give us this day our daily bread:
Thy Word and grace so holy;
To endless life let us be fed,
And saved from Satan's fury.

Purge graciously from us the leav'n
Of Pharasaic teaching
And in its place let us be giv'n
Clear wine of Christ's own preaching:
Right faith and faultless doctrine.

4. Forgive us, Father, and be kind:
In our trespasses spare us,
Nor let us desp'rate be to find,
So many sins ensnare us.
Support us bravely in the strife
To overcome the devil
And cruèl foes who seek our life.
Deliver us from evil!
Dear Father, hear us. Amen.

5. To give Thee glory, praise and laud
In every age forever
Shall be our will, O Father, God,
O Christ Thy Son our Savior,
O Holy Ghost, our Comforter,
Adored in equal measure
In every land, by rich and poor,
Who find in Thee their pleasure.
Eternal life now grant them!

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.


1. O Herre Gud, miskunde dig,
se til os her på jorden,
vi ere dine børn så usselig,
vor Fader estu vorden,
Du sidder høgt i himmerig,
og vi udi dødsens snare.
Giv pris dit navn udi jorderig,
lad os ej så heden fare,
i din ugunst så såre.

2. O Fader, øg dit rige fast,
lad djævelen ej sjelv råde,
og frels os fra den skadelig gast,
begav os med din nåde,
at vi må være dine lydige børn
dig lade styre og råde.
Din vilje ske i jorderig,
alt som i himmelens throne,
lær os dine børn til gode.

3. Giv os i dag vor daglige brød,
dine ord og hellige n åde,
og frels os fra den ewige død,
og så fra djævelsens v åde,
borttag fra os med nåden din
Pharisaiske surdej og lære,
skænk os igjen den klare vin,
som Kristus monne frambære,
det er ret [tro] og lære.

4. O kjære Fader, vær os huld,
og spar os i vor brøste,
vor brøde hun er så mangefold,
hjælp at vi ej mistrøste.
I vor strid statt os mandelig bi,
overvinde uvenner grumme,
åndelige og verdslige gjenstrid,
ondt vend fra os altsammen,
os hør kjære Fader, Amen.

5. Pris lov og hæder til evig tid
er vor begæring alle,
skal gives dig vor Fader så blid,
din Søn det og for alle.
Der til den Ånd vor Trøstermand,
skal gives den samme ære,
af fattig og rig i alle land,
som dig nu s åre begjære.
Giv dennom den evig ære.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

FW: New Lutheran Quote of the Day



Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Friday, May 27, 2011 10:10 AM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: New Lutheran Quote of the Day


The devil's attack on us serves to strengthen our faith because it drives us back to God's Word as the only basis for our spiritual life.  We cannot rely on our own resources in the battle against Satan and the powers of darkness.  If we rely on our own wisdom and power, we will fail.  In that situation, our only hope is Christ and His Word.  -- John Kleinig, *Grace upon Grace* p. 22.

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FW: The Difference between a Reformed and Lutheran Approach to the 3rd Use

The Law…


Feed: Confessional Gadfly
Posted on: Friday, May 27, 2011 7:31 AM
Author: Rev. Eric J Brown
Subject: The Difference between a Reformed and Lutheran Approach to the 3rd Use


For any who might be interested, I would note this blog post by Rev. Michael Larson which which he describes the difference between the Lutheran approach to the 3 uses of the law (I like that he gives the Latin terminology - the usus civilis, usus elenchticus, and ertius usus legis). He makes excellent points.

Coming from the opposite direction - here is a post on the same distinction from a Reformed point of view

The difference in emphasis is interesting. The Lutheran focus is upon the Gospel of Christ - that Christ Jesus has fulfilled the Law, and that by grace I will do good works. The Law is only needed as I remain in sin, yet as a Christian I will delight in God's Law.

The Reformed focus treats God's Law as a higher reality than the Gospel - indeed, even saying that "The gospel is temporary; the law is everlasting and precisely that which is restored by the gospel."

The reformed end up treating salvation, the Gospel, the Cross as though they were all only some sort of back-up plan, some divine temporary building until we get back to the real thing - God's Law.

This doesn't mesh with the Scriptures -- Christ is the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world. Christ's redemption is not just some booby prize that we get to happily ignore in the New Heavens and the New Earth... no, the Lamb who was Slain has begun His Reign -- and even for all eternity Paul will know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified. The Gospel is Central and will always remain.

As for the Law -- it will always remain... but the day is coming when no one will have to instruct or proclaim the law - you won't have to say, "Know the Lord"... because the Lord will have forgiven our sin and remember our sin no more.

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FW: He who hesitates is lost…. Spring Sale Ends Next Tuesday: Act Now



Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Friday, May 27, 2011 7:00 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: He who hesitates is lost…. Spring Sale Ends Next Tuesday: Act Now


I know, I know. You are tired of me nudging you to take advantage of the CPH Spring Sale. But, you can get some really terrific prices on so many resources: The Lutheran Study Bible, Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Lutheranism 101 and many, many more. The sale ends next Tuesday and I can promise you that on Wednesday I'll get messages saying, "Oh, we missed the sale, can we still get the sale price?" So….act now and don't miss your chance to get great prices on great resources. You can look through the catalog by clicking this link. If you order at least $75 worth of things, from the Spring catalog, you will get free shipping. OK, this is my last warning, final call…..he who hesitates is lost. Act now. Seriously. I'm not making this up you know.

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FW: God Laid the Earth's Foundation



Feed: starke Kirchenlieder
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:43 PM
Author: Stephen P. Starke
Subject: God Laid the Earth's Foundation


This text was written for First Lutheran Church in Boston and will be sung this coming Sunday in their worship service.  Set to the strong tune MOVILLE, the text expands upon the thought of the final stanza, "Sing to the LORD a new song..." (Ps. 96:1-3)  The response to God's great works throughout Scripture has been a new song, declaring all that our triune God has done.  Of course His greatest work accomplished was that which was completed through His only Son, the eternal Word made flesh, who came fulfilling all that was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.

1.  God laid the earth's foundation;
     He placed its cornerstone.
     Do you have understanding
     Of such great knowledge shown?
     God set the bounds for water,
     Devised how clouds would hang,
     While morning stars of heaven
     For joy together sang!

2.  Proud Pharaoh's raging army
     Lay drowned beneath the sea;
     Great Moses and all Israel
     Praised God triumphantly.
     Then Miriam and the women,
     With tambourines raised high,
     All danced in joyful tribute
     Beneath the desert sky.

3.  God sent a greater Moses
     To free our captive race:
     Pure from the womb of Mary,
     Enfleshed as truth and grace.
     "To God on high be glory
      And peace to all the earth!"
     Thus sang the heaven-sent angels
     The night of Jesus' birth.

4.  Joshua fought and conquered,
     When he to Canaan came.
     God's Son, incarnate Savior,
     Fought fierce our rest to claim:
     No seven-fold blast of trumpets,
     No shout tore evil down,
     For Jesus chose as weapons
     A cross and thorny crown.

5.  Ark of God's holy presence,
     Before whom angels fall--
     How could the Lord of heaven
     Face scorn and spit and gall?
     Yet this High Priest most holy,
     Behind the veil went in;
     His own pure blood there sprinkled
     To cover human sin.

6.  Christ cried out, "It is finished!"
     And with His final breath,
     Committed to the Father
     His spirit at His death.
     Dark, rumbled dazed creation:
     "God died?  How can this be?"
     While foul, demonic minions
     Squealed loud cacophony.

7.  Sealed in the tomb, Christ rested--
     One final Sabbath day!
     Fulfilled the prophet's promise:
     "He shall not see decay."
     Our Lord to hell descended,
     Declaring victory,
     Then rising led hosts vanquished
     In full captivity!

8.  For forty days appearing
     To His own chosen band,
     Then Christ to heav'n ascended
     To rule at God's right hand.
     Soon to the ones He promised,
     The Holy Spirit came;
     With tongues they spoke God's wisdom
     'Mid rushing wind and flame.

9.  God laid a new foundation
     With Christ as Cornerstone;
     On prophets and apostles
     Through whom the Christ was known:
     One body and one Spirit,
     One Lord--one God of all,
     One faith that rests securely
     On one baptismal call!

10.  Sing to the LORD a new song!
       Applaud His selfless fame;
       Declare among the nations
       The glory due His name!
       Now roar, O seas, His power!
       Now wave, O fields, His worth!
       With righteousness and justice,
       He comes to judge the earth!

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

FW: Why I Do Not Work in the CPH Design Department: First Look at the Concordia Triglotta Cover



Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:55 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Why I Do Not Work in the CPH Design Department: First Look at the Concordia Triglotta Cover


I'm happy to tell you that work on reprinting the Concordia Triglotta is progressing nicely and I'll keep you posted on more details as plans shape up. We've got the cover design finalized. I thought you would like to see the "before" and "after" shot of the cover. First, the design I submitted to the design department. Second, the design they returned. I think their design is a little better than mine, not much, but only a little. I think my design inspired our team to greatness. Do you agree?

My Design


The CPH Design Department's Design


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FW: Sola Gospel!



Feed: divinae consortes naturae
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:22 AM
Author: (Paul)
Subject: Sola Gospel!


What cannot be redeemed through the Gospel certainly cannot be redeemed. -- Rev. Friedrich Pfotenhauer

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FW: Cautions, Concerns and Opportunities with Small Groups in Lutheran Congregations



Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Thursday, May 26, 2011 8:50 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Cautions, Concerns and Opportunities with Small Groups in Lutheran Congregations




From time to time there erupts on the Internet some pretty heated conversations over the place and propriety of small groups in Lutheran congregations. Some would advocate an "all or nothing" approach to the issue, while others, including me, think there is a more nuanced approach that is more helpful. Some take the approach that either "small group ministry" is essential to the growth and well being of a congregation, or the position that under no circumstances can small groups ever be used appropriately in Lutheran congregations. When discussing these issues it is easy to let emotions get the best of better judgment when expressing points of view. I've seen this in others. I've seen this in myself. I think it is therefore important for us to understand precisely what we are talking about and lay out cautions, concerns and opportunities when it comes to the use of small group studies in Lutheran congregations.


In the history of the Lutheran Church there arose a movement known as "Pietism," which was a reaction against some legitimately bad practices that had arisen in the Lutheran Church by the late 17th century, but…as is usually, no make that, "always," the case: Pietism was an over-reaction. Pietism wanted there to be a more personal understanding of the impact of salvation in our life and as a result, it did not work at recapturing a strong vibrant sense of the centrality of the Word and Sacrament for our assurance of God's grace and mercy, but rather turned inward, on subjective emotional experiences. A key part of the Pietistic movement was creating little "conventicles" or "churches within the church." What were these? These were small groups of people, usually led by laity, who set themselves up over against the local pastor and congregation and emphasized their meetings and their emotional prayers and singing of amazingly bad hymns, striving for emotional encounters with God's grace. They ended up actually despising the Lord's appointed means of grace and the office of the holy ministry. Today the legacy of this kind of thinking is seen when small groups in congregations become more important than the gathering of God's people around the Word and Sacraments and when the "what does this mean to you?" approach to God's Word takes a higher priority than a careful study of God's Word under the careful supervision and leadership of the ordained pastor in the congregation. The "churches within the church" were set up to oppose the local congregation's ministry and even to offer an alternative spiritual life and worship experience, as opposed to the Sunday morning Divine Service which came to be held in contempt and treated with disdain.


The challenge with the use of small groups in Lutheran congregations today is found precisely in the fact that, sadly, small group "ministry" in some Lutheran congregations and movements, particularly those movements associated with the Church Growth Movement, have ended up replicating the same errors experienced in the history of the Lutheran Church during the age of Pietism. Challenges arise when small groups in a local congregation are lead by well meaning but unprepared laity who are allowed simply to pick and choose whatever materials they want to use in their small group. When a small group is not about studying God's Word in the context of an orthodox, confessionally faithful curriculum, under the close, personal supervision of the parish pastor, it sets up a potentially very dangerous situation whereby small groups can spin off into a whole host of bad theology and bad practices. The focus of small groups can be turned toward subjective, emotional encounters and eyes can be taken off of Christ and His Word and put rather on the emotional experiences of small group members. When materials are used by small groups that come from non-Lutheran sources the concerns are only heightened. When small groups are allowed to take a place in the life of God's people that only the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament must have, that is a deep concern. A significant concern, rightly raised, arises primarily with small groups that are not structured around study of God's Word, but rather are structured more to be social experiences in the congregation that only lightly touch on some aspect of God's Word. When a small group drifts free from a focused study around God's Word there arises even more potential for abuses of small groups. When small groups are taught by a layman, that is, a layman is entrusted with the task of actually teaching the material, rather than leading the group through a pre-defined curriculum and discussion guide, there is where the problems come. There have been cases, unfortunately, where these kinds of unstructured small groups in Lutheran congregations have led to factionalism and very bad theology. For instance, an intrusion of the charismatic movement and other such false doctrine and practice. It is particularly harmful, wrong and dangerous when a Lutheran pastor simply permits a small group to be formed in his congregation and allows it to use whatever material it wants to use as the basis for their small group experience.  Another major concern arises when small groups are put forward in our congregations as the "be all and end all" of a congregation's ministry. We can never allow ourselves to think that small groups are better than than the fellowship we have together, in and round and through, the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, which goes on in the Divine Service. Everything in a Lutheran congregation must flow from, and in return, flow back into, our regular gathering together around Word and Sacrament, where the one who hold the office of the ministry exercises that office publically in our midst through preaching and teaching the Word, and administering the Sacraments [their is no difference!] from the pulpit and from the altar.


In reaction to the cautions and concerns, here only briefly summarized, there are some today who believe that there should never be any small groups used in a Lutheran congregation. On the other hand, there are many who, like me, believe that an effective small group program can be used in a faithful Lutheran congregations, but it does require careful pastoral care and diligent teaching and supervision, and the use of orthodox, confessionally Lutheran materials in the small groups. What would this look like in a Lutheran congregation? Here is but one scenario: A pastor organizes a program of study of a book of the Bible, or organizes a comprehensive walk through a doctrinal topic, or series of topics, or the Lutheran Confessions. He identifies lay leaders in his congregation who can be entrusted with teaching responsibilities and he works closely with these men to train them and help them understand the content, the goals, the purpose and the objective of the curriculum that will be put into place in the congregation. The program meets in a large group format once a week, or whenever is deemed most appropriate. The pastor leads the large group session, teaching the major content of the week's lesson. Laity then meet in small groups between sessions to go over the material and to explore and study the given week's curriculum, with carefully prepared study questions and discussion guides. They do so in these groups with a lay leader appointed and taught carefully by the pastor. I see this as a helpful and workable way of using small groups in a Lutheran congregation. Now, having said this, I want to make it clear that I do not believe there is any essential need for small group Bible studies. I reject the idea that studying the Scriptures in a "small group" is somehow "better" in, any meaningful theological sense, than a large Bible study in the congregation.

Final Thoughts and Observations

Now, I recognize that there are those who still, for the sake of conscience, believe that there can never be, nor should ever be, any kind of small group program in a Lutheran congregation, for the reasons stated above. I do not agree with this position and believer there can be a responsible use of small groups in a congregation. My major concern is how much, and to what extent, the pastor serves as the chief teacher and how well he trains the lay small group facilitators that may be used, along with what materials are being used. Frankly, there would be no need for any "Bible classes" to begin were we to return to a strong doctrinal and exegetical sermon that lasts 45 minutes or more in our congregations, as was the norm throughout the entire history of the Christian Church, and particularly the Lutheran Church, until only the last thirty or forty years. Now I've seen way too many pastors preaching ten minute sermons in order to cram the service of the Lord's Supper into a sixty minute window of time. How about that for a radical proposal?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Resources Received: Hymnody

Townend, Stuart. The Journey. Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK: Kingsway Music, 2011. Audio mp3 download. (CD also available.) $8.99.  (H)

FW: Varying Views of Reform

Reform. What does this mean? Consider…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 6:52 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Varying Views of Reform


An interesting paper I am reading is tracing the history of reformation before the Reformation as well as differing views of reformation by the various church perspectives.  On the one hand are those who see a linear view of the doctrine and faith.  The faith actually develops but in linear fashion.  The truth is not static then but always in motion.  The key to reformation lies in making sure this development takes place within certain boundaries.  Reformation is then not a return to a former position but the restoration of the forward movement to a certain linear plane.  The Church does go backwards but ever forwards.  I would use the image of a freight train that keeps adding cars but remains the same train and headed in the same direction.  This is in essence the view of Rome.  Thus Rome does not disdain or reject developments from her past but attempts to reform by keeping them within a certain boundary.  Controversy allows the Church to more clearly articulate her position and this enables the Church to come to fuller understanding or development of the faith.  The only problem with this is that the baggage becomes very weighty and, like a train, the Church begins to slow down under the weight of all the cars added over the years.

On the other hand is evangelicalism and classic Protestantism.  Here there is deep suspicion of the Church and skepticism of the faithfulness of the Church as an institution.  The faith is always up for reconsideration and the viewpoint of the past holds no normative value for the Church – only Scripture.  The time of the apostles represents a kind of baseline in the thought or expression of that faith.  In this viewpoint even the creeds and confessions represent unhealthy development or divergence from the apostolic ideal.  In this case the Church is always reaching backward to the pristine era before controversy, development, and divergence diluted or contaminated the faith and the Church.  Reformation is the constant return to the apostolic age or position.

Orthodoxy represents a similar but more complicated understanding.  On the one hand there is development and the faith moves in linear fashion but the extent of this development is much more limited than in Rome – limited to the first seven ecumenical councils but able to reactivated if and when the ecumenical era of episcopal, conciliar leadership were restored.  If, for example, Rome and Constantinople could come together and bring those elements of the Church which have a valid ministry and orthodox confession together, the ecumenical era could reconvene and doctrine, faith, and understanding pick up where it was left, frozen, or paused, in the past.  At the same time, Orthodoxy has a much more pivotal role for Scripture and has been somewhat insulated from the Western controversies and higher criticism of Scripture.

Lutheranism is a different course all together.  For Lutherans the Reformation is not a return to a pristine apostolic era but neither it is a nod to a linear development of the Church's faith and belief.  Rather, Lutherans see ongoing reform as the normal mode of the Church.  Reformation is when the  faith expressed in the Scriptures and by orthodox teachers throughout history and the faith confessed at any given time are brought closer.  So the Church may suffer from times of institutional deterioration and unfaithfulness but God works to reform His Church by raising up men and movements to bring the current confession into line with the Scriptural witness.  The Church is always undergoing a correction process in which the faithful fathers and the Scriptural witness is brought to bear upon the present moment.  Reformation is not a course correction in the development as much as it is a restoration of the once for all faith to the Church at a particular time -- something that happens not here and there but always.  But neither do Lutherans see a pristine era as the golden age to which the Church must return in order to be "pure."  For Lutherans reformation is not innovation but revival and this occurs even within Lutheranism, the great reformation movement itself.

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FW: New Lutheran Quote of the Day



Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 7:42 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: New Lutheran Quote of the Day


Yet we do not possess these gifts by ourselves; we have them only as receive them from Jesus.  We have eternal life by believing in Him and receiving it from Him.  In short, we borrow everything from Him. -- John Kleinig *Grace upon Grace* p. 11.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

FW: Tuesdays with Norman (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)



Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 3:18 PM
Author: Charles Henrickson
Subject: Tuesdays with Norman (by Pr. Charles Henrickson)


About a decade ago, there was a bestselling book called "Tuesdays with Morrie." I haven't read the book, but from what I know, it's the story of a man who goes to visit his old professor from college and discovers he still has a lot to learn from him.

Well, today was one of my "Tuesdays with Norman." Let me explain.

On Tuesdays I participate in a sermon-study group of about eight or nine pastors. We meet to go over over one of the pericopes for the coming Sunday, translating the Greek text and discussing how we might preach it. I've been part of this group for a number of years now, and I find it very helpful. So those are my "Tuesdays."

The "Norman" of my title refers to Dr. Norman Nagel, the esteemed Professor Emeritus of Concordia Seminary. (I hesitate to call him "Norman," as a matter of respect, but the parallel with "Tuesdays with Morrie" is too strong.) Dr. Nagel has been one of the most influential theologians in our synod over the past 30 years. Many pastors, professors–and now, high synodical officials–count him as a mentor, who taught us how to think like a Lutheran and "gospel-talk it."

As many of you know, a couple of years ago Dr. Nagel suffered a stroke, and now, in his mid-eighties, he is living at Laclede Groves Senior Living Community here in St. Louis. (Dr. Nagel is pictured at right, in a photo from about a year ago, when Issues Etc. came to Laclede Groves and did an interview with him.)

Well, one of the guys in our sermon-study group keeps in contact with Dr. Nagel and his wife Betsy, and a couple of months ago he suggested that we take our study over to Laclede Groves one Tuesday a month and invite Dr. Nagel to participate. So that is what we have done! I think it's good for Dr. Nagel to have somebody to do theology with (albeit with us peons), and I know it's good for us to have the benefit of his wisdom.

Today we went over the Holy Gospel for this coming Sunday, John 14:15-21, where Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit. Dr. Nagel contributed well to our discussion, for instance, bringing in Luther's remark, "Poor Holy Spirit, he doesn't know anything but Jesus." I remember Dr. Nagel using this quote in class some 20+ years ago, but today he also quoted it in German!

So while Dr. Nagel may now be in a wheelchair, and his speech may be a little slower (although the famous Nagelian pauses were affectionately imitated by his students even back then!), the Lord's gifts to his servant Norman of a sharp mind and a Christ-centered heart are still something to rejoice in!

"Tuesdays with Norman"–make that "Dr. Nagel." The Lord does give us his gifts, doesn't he?

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FW: O Fader udi himmelen



Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 11:44 AM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: O Fader udi himmelen


Here is my translation of the Danish "vekselsang" (antiphonal song) for Easter (with an option for the Feast of Ascension) based on Rex gloriae & Regina caeli, from C. Mortensen, here given from H. von Nutzhorn, Den dansk-lutherske menigheds salmesang… (pp. 141–144).

Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Alleluia!

1. O Father, God in heaven high
Through Thy Son hear our cry.
For He true Man was made,
To be our help and aid:
Show us mercy, Father! Alleluia.

He who was dead and for us given. Alleluia.

2. O Christ, Eternal Son and King
For Thy grace now we sing:
Death hast Thou overcome,
Redeeming everyone:
Lord, receive our prayer-! Alleluia.

He is arisen as He said. Praise the Lord!

3. O Holy Ghost to Thee we pray,
Comforter, Help and Stay,
Consoler of the heart,
To all Thy grace impart;
Peace and gladness grant us! Alleluia.

Pray God for us. Alleluia.
Praise the Lord. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Joy fills the daughter of the King.
Bride of Christ, gladly sing!
For He whom Mary bore
Is risen with great pow'r,
In Him her trust is grounded. Alleluia.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.


Ærens Koning, o Christe, Alleluia!

1. O Fader udi himmelen,
vid din Søn hør vor bøn.
han er oss fød ok given vist,
till all vor hjelp ok trøst;
vær os mild, o Fader! Alleluia.

Hvilken som vor død ok for os given. Alleluia.

2. O Christe Koning i evighed,
vi bede dig, vær os blyd,
du som døden haver fordærvet,
os salighed forhvervet;
bønhør os, o Herre! Alleluia.

Han er opstanden (opfaren) som han sagde. Lover Herren!

3. Helligånd vor bøn til dig,
o Gud vor Trøstermand,
samvittighedsens trøst, hjertensløst
afslæt alle Kristnes brøst;
fred ok glæde giv os! Alleluia.

Bed Gud for os. Alleluia.
Lover Herren. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Koningens datter af evighed,
Christi brud glæder sig,
for den hun haver i ånden undfangen,
han er, som han sagde, opstanden. [el. opfaren]
Hun sig på Gud forlader, Alleluja!

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FW: Commencement Address at Concordia Theological Seminary



Feed: Witness, Mercy, Life Together.
Posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 8:02 AM
Author: Jon Vieker
Subject: Commencement Address at Concordia Theological Seminary


I want to share with you—especially with the faculty of this august institution—the same words I just shared with the faculty of the St. Louis Seminary: you are the greatest Lutheran faculty on earth. And I want there to be absolutely no doubt that when I say that to one of the two faculties, I really mean it.

The Lord loves a commencement, make no mistake about it. A very long time ago the Lord ceased his eternal contemplation, put on his doctor's cap, and commenced it all! Bereshith bara Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets. New Revised Harrison Translation: "At the commencement God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). In fact, the Bible is packed with teaching about commencements!

There is a "commencement Christology": "At the commencement was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Or, "He [Christ] was at the commencement with God" (John 1:2).

Mark's commencement Christology begins, like Elert's Structure of Lutheranism, with the evangelische Ansatz: "The commencement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1).

Now, I could elaborate interminably on this commencement theology, but I am fully aware that Luther's advice for preaching is even more applicable to a commencement address.

  1. Stand up!
  2. Speak up!
  3. Shut up!

And this address will be judged by number three, which Luther said was the most difficult. One verse from Scripture, however, does give me a bit of concern over this honorary doctorate: "An inheritance gained hastily in the commencement will not be blessed in the end" (Proverbs 20:21).

The most profound thing I've ever read on seminary education was written by a rather obscure, nineteenth-century, German Lutheran, August Vilmar:

Theology serves real life in this world and in eternity. Every glimpse the theologian pays past real life is false, an offense of the eye, a squint. Every step theology takes past real life is a misstep leading to falling and in the end infallibly to shattering in pieces when repeated. Theology shares what it has, totally and unabridged . . . All this because its content is for those who receive it, the breath of life, an indispensable nourishment, no different from air, and sunlight and bread, since none on earth can live who does not receive what proceeds from theology . . .

The need to receive, however consists in hunger and thirst for the Word of God, for the certainty of eternal life, of salvation. In theology should be given and received the Word of God, the certainty, the undoubted, unimpeachable certainty of eternal life, of salvation. [Christ!] Theology . . . instructs the coming generation toward becoming a generation of true shepherds, able and ready to gather the sheep, to go after, to seek and find them. It must educate shepherds for whom this never ending and arduous labor of shepherding, pasturing and seeking the sheep has become second nature, so that their hearts are grieved when they do not tend the entire flock . . . and this care is extinguished only with the last breath of life. [Vilmar, Theology of Facts Versus a Theology of Rhetoric]

Vilmar's Theology of Facts is now commencing—now coming full circle in your lives.

The nearest thing to a commencement address I could find in Luther's writings was a sermon on Matthew 28:19, preached at the occasion of the first ordination of a large number of candidates in Wittenberg.

Luther makes a point, which is the most powerful and comforting thing that could possibly be spoken to people just like you this day: "So that there would be no doubt that our Lord and Head is with us, He thus spoke a potent blessing over them and said, 'Behold, I am with you'" (Referring to Mt. 28). And Luther goes on to describe precisely what the Lord's promised presence blesses—the doling out of divine gold! Luther preached:

Preaching salvation to men does not stem from our power . . . We are merely an instrument and means, through which Christ is speaking . . . [This is] like a lord [who] places a gold coin in the hand of [his] servant so that [he give it] to a needy person. It does not belong to the servant, who is merely the hand that passes it on . . . He is the lord's spoon, [his] hand.

We are the spoon; He gives drink through us; the food and drink are the Lord's . . . Hence we conclude and say: Even if a parson is neither pious nor worthy to [be called] God's son and servant—so too the servant, even if his hand is decrepit and scabby—nevertheless the golden coin, which the Lord is giving by means of his hand, is good, because it is the Lord's own. This coin rightfully belongs to the Lord, [although] He gives by means of a scoundrel. . . .

For this reason [then] look to the gift and to [its] true giver, and not to the organ through which it is given, unless [the gift is given] by such a man who would not be giving what God has mandated, but would [instead] give you a penny in the place of a gold coin . . . [WA 41:454-459, translated by J. Mumme].

You, my dear graduates, have had a gold coin dropped into your scabby hands—Ph.D.s, S.T.M.s, M.Div.s, M.A.R.s, pastors and deaconesses1 You've been given the gold! Don't dole out pennies! The gold?

Law: "Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces" (Jeremiah 23:28ff). Go for the gold! Not limp noodle preaching of an anemic word of pseudo law! Be a gold hammer, striking a gold anvil, producing a gold coin. Preach like the apostles! Speak the Law like the apostles: "You killed the Author of life . . ." (Acts 3:15).

Gospel: Christ's conception, birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension! All of it yours through a blessed and happy exchange! Baptism ("Baptism now saves you"; 1 Peter 3:21)! Word of God ("living and active"; Heb. 4:12)! "Whosoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven . . ." (John 20:23); "He upholds the universe by the word of his power" (Hebrews 1:3)! Lord's Supper ("Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins")! Gold!

Theology for witness, mercy, and life together! Gold for preaching ("The Word does not return void"; Is. 55:11)! Gold for mercy ("And he had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd"; Mark 6:34). Gold for life together! And as you commence this new chapter in your lives, you will find that those whom you serve will dish up this gold for you too . . . And without it, you will die.

Here's a passage that is a particular admonishment to you this evening: "Let what you heard at the commencement abide in you. If what you heard at the commencement abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father" (1 John 2:24).

The Lord is commencing something with you today. You've got gold in your hand! And you also have what Luther called "a potent promise"—"And lo I am with you always . . ." (Mt. 28:20).

So let the commencement commence! "And I am sure of this, that he who commenced a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:3–6).

Matthew C. Harrison
May 20, 2011

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