Monday, January 30, 2012

FW: Suggestion for the Ash Wednesday Liturgy




Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2012 8:04 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: Suggestion for the Ash Wednesday Liturgy


So, in the LW Agenda, after the address and opening litany for Ash Wednesday, the rubrics direct you to continue with the OT reading - in other words, the address and litany replace the entrance rite entirely.

Along comes LSB Altar Book, and now in addition to the address and opening litany, the rubrics specifically permit the distribution of ashes (either as the people enter or after the opening litany).  But then things get confusing:

"After all have received the ashes, the service continues with the Service of Confession and Absolution in the Divine Service, or with the rite of Corporate Confession and Absolution." (p. 486)  The rationale for the Confession and Absolution p. 483 with rubric 3:  "Ashes are a sign of mortality and death.  Therefore, the imposition of ashes should be followed by the rite of Confession and Absolution."

Absolutely nothing is said about anything else in the Entrance Rite.  The assumption seems to be that following Confession and Absolution for whichever Divine Service we'd continue with Introit, Kyrie, salutation and collect.

Yet we DO note in the rubrics for Corporate Confession and Absolution (p. 422, rubric 3):  "This rite may also replace the preparation rite of the Divine Service.  Following this rite, the service would continue at the Introit/Entrance Hymn or Salutation and Collect of the Day. *This is particularly appropriate in Lent, and is suggested in the order for Ash Wednesday.*"

Well, it's not suggested there no matter what the rubric says, but the fact that it is suggested HERE leads me to ask: doesn't it make sense if you insist on doing Confession and Absolution immediately after the Ashes, to move directly to salutation and collect?  Or even to the OT reading?  The litany has already covered the "Kyrie" if you will and it concludes with a collect.  And an "entrance" - either Introit or Entrance Hymn makes little sense so late in the service (I mean, in our place, it takes about 20 minutes before the opening litany and distribution of ashes if finished - let alone adding to it a Confession and Absolution!).

Perhaps also of import is the rubric on p. 410 (#4) that "the Litany may serve as an Entrance Rite in the Divine Service, replacing the Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise."  If that holds for "THE Litany" why not for the Ash Wednesday litany (as it once did in LW)?


I'd posted all the above over on ALPB and Pr. Zimmerman wrote me to inform me of his practice which makes the absolute most sense of out of the confusing rubrics.  Here's his practice:


Opening Hymn


Opening Sentences

Lenten Address (from LSB Altar Book)

Salutation and Collect of the Day





Holy Gospel

Hymn of Day


Service of Ashes:  The Litany, Blessing of Ashes, Imposition of Ashes, Declaration of Grace

Offering Received


and then Service of the Sacrament as usual.


I like his immensely because it is clear, it simplifies the service, it gives you the opportunity to preach upon the practice before inviting folks up for the ashes, and it avoids the needless repetitions (Western liturgy does NOT like repetition in general!) of the Litany at the beginning and then the Prayer of the Church following the sermon.  It totally preserves the rubrics concern that some form of declaration of grace be spoken after the ashes are distributed.  I think it's the best solution I've yet seen to the rather confusing rubrics in Lutheran Service Book on this matter.


One more matter of note - I also appreciate Pr. Mozolak's practice of reminding those who receive the ashes, not only that they are dust and to dust they shall return, but that they are Christ's and to Christ they shall return.  I'm not sure what to do with that yet, but I like it.  A lot.

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Resources Received


ESV Single Column Legacy Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 1664 Pages. TruTone. $49.99. (P)

Jenson, Robert W. Lutheran Slogans: Use and Abuse. Delhi, NY: ALPB Books, 2011. 80 Pages. Paper. $6.00. (LHPN)

The Lake Louise Commission: The Sacred Family. Delhi, NY: ALPB Books, 2011. 124 Pages. Paper. $12.50 (LHPN)

Ronneberg, Rod. L. A Little Book of Canons: Eucharistic Prayers for Times and Seasons.  Delhi, NY: ALPB Books, 2011. 120 Pages. Paper. $10.00. (LHPN)

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FW: Why I Like Doing It the Hard Way




Feed: Justification Rules
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2012 10:22 AM
Author: (Jay Hobson)
Subject: Why I Like Doing It the Hard Way


There are a lot of resources available for a pastor to use. There are sermon series with full sermons available to preach. There are pre-molded bible studies that you can pick up and use in an instant. There are confirmation materials that practically teach themselves. In theory, the pastor wouldn't even need to know the Word of God at all with everything that is available for pastors.

But I like doing it the "hard way". Concordia Publishing House (CPH) provides a bible study on each chapter of the bible, yet I am writing my own. That's not to say that I go it alone, or do not cherish some of the treasures that are available. For example, Rev. Peter Bender of the Concordia Catechetical Academy provides a great resource for catechesis. I use it to teach, but also supplement it (not that it needs much supplementing) with that of my own studies. CPH has produced a Lenten Sermon Series based on the Penitential Psalms. I am using their ideas, but I am not using their full written sermons. I will do things myself.

There are two reasons why I especially like to do this:

1) Learned in the Word of God. When I write a bible study, I am forced to study and know the text. I am forced to look at the Hebrew and Greek and read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. With a prefabricated bible study, I am tempted not to study as much. The end result is a more knowledgeable pastor and more time spent in and throughout the Word of God. It becomes a blessing to me in that I grow in the knowledge of the Word and of Christ. But is also a blessing to my congregation for the more skilled I am with the Word of God, the more clearly they will hear Christ proclaimed to them.

2) Contextualization. When I write a bible study, I can tailor the study to the congregation. Hear me rightly, please. The truth of the Scriptures reaches across all times and all places, and as such needs no contextualization. However, because the Scripture comes to not simply to a man, but to "Bill the farmer, husband, father, school board representative, and U.S. citizen," the Scripture is spoken to him in his vocation. Thus, my bible study can be focus on the needs of the congregation as governed by where the Word of God leads. And, of course, this is a necessity when it comes to preaching.

On the other side, there are two reasons why this is burdensome:

1) Time. Writing a bible study is time consuming. Writing a sermon takes up a large portion of the week. Writing out individual bulletin inserts about the divine service (instead of purchasing them from CPH) takes more than a couple hours. It cuts into other things I could be doing - Shut-Ins could use more frequent visits, congregation members and less-frequent members could be visited, more time could be spent in other academic pursuits. The bottom line is that it takes extra time to do these things, and even more time to do them well. But in my opinion, it is time well spent.

2) My limited capacity. I am newly out of seminary. It is easy to get over ambitious in what I am trying to accomplish. Granted, I can do a lot, but there still room for improvement. Simply put, there are pastor who take a better approach at a certain study than I would have ever been able to conceive.

There are likely better ways than my ways. But my ways train me in the Word of God. It is time consuming and the struggle is great, but in the end it is for the benefit of all that I take this "hard way". It gets me and the congregation deeper into the Word and that is always a good thing.

+Kyrie Eleison+

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FW: Some Thoughts on Matthew 20:1-16




Feed: Confessional Gadfly
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2012 8:20 AM
Author: Rev. Eric J Brown
Subject: Some Thoughts on Matthew 20:1-16


As I was pondering Matthew 20 - the parable of the workers in the fields, I had a thought. So often we think of this parable in terms of *what age* a person is brought to faith - that some are of the faith their entire lives and that some are late converts.

Now I wonder. Consider the complaint of the early workers - "And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'"

I have been a Baptized member of Christ's church since I was an infant. There is not a time that I can remember where I was not a Christian.

Yet - what burden of the day have I borne? What scorching heat have I faced? I am an American. Even as I might complain about being underpaid -- I am wealthy. If I complain about difficulties - I've never had my life threatened for the sake of the Gospel. Having people complain about how they don't like how my sermons do or don't do ______ is hardly "scorching".

I wonder if it isn't hubris and pride that make us in America think that we are the hard workers, that we have been long laboring for Christ. I hear what happens to our brothers and sisters in Africa, in Asia - those who literally have to face down tangible threats of persecution... they are the ones who have faced the heat, not I. And it is a sign of great generosity on God's behalf that I am promised the same forgiveness of sins and salvation and life as they are, even though I am wealthy and comfortable in a way they could not comprehend.

Just some thoughts.

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FW: Paul Westermeyer on Ending Worship Wars...




Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2012 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Paul Westermeyer on Ending Worship Wars...


Sure, these worship wars have been going on forever, but Dr. Paul Westermeyer of Luther Seminary suggests today's church arguments over music have rarely been as mean-spirited as today – or this simple to solve (note the difference between simple and easy…).

Yes, liberating our congregations from the manipulative and emotion-based musical proclivities of the surrounding culture is our biggest challenge – but one that's met by simply getting back to basics of helping the Church sing around Word, font and table.
Dr. Westermeyer unpacks this in a refreshing interview not only for church musicians, but all church leaders.

Dr. Paul Westermeyer says the biggest challenge to today's church worship is capitulation to a culture that's based on consumerism and greed – in which bigger is better, and growing my piece of the pie is Job #1. In this interview Dr. Paul tells us that church music is not a commodity but for the glory of God and the edification of humanity.

HT to Church Next for this referral...where you can watch....  OR

Listen to Westermeyer unpack his thesis:

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FW: Tell the Good News About Jesus. Wyoming District being “missional”




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Sunday, January 29, 2012 11:28 PM
Author: Pastor Joshua Scheer
Subject: Tell the Good News About Jesus. Wyoming District being "missional"


Every year clergy and laity from Wyoming (and some from other districts as well) converge on Casper, Wyoming to hear speakers on topics of Evangelism.  Yes, confessionals from a confessional district learning about Evangelism.  This year I had the opportunity to attend the convocation, listen to the speakers, and even moderate some of the panel discussion.

This year's speakers were:

Rev. Clint Poppe of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Lincoln, NE, chairman of the ACELC

Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood, President Emeritus of the Wyoming, Associate Pastor of Mount Hope Lutheran in Casper, WY, Board of Directors member for CTS, Fort Wayne.

Rev. Jeremy Mills of Epiphany Evangelical Lutheran Church of Westfield, IN

The speakers provided a good smattering of situations, from ages to styles of congregations that they serve, they really helped bring many good topics to the table.  Rev. Poppe provided some excellent theology for mission and in particular stressed that the Church is about the forgiveness of sins.  He also set up a good framework of using the Augsburg Confession articles I – VI for evangelism (that AC VI is where it fits, as a good work, but always must follow the teachings of the previous five).  Dr. Garwood provided some excellent practical tips for congregational efforts at evangelism, including suggestions at member assimilation and so forth.  Rev. Mills brought good thoughts to the table on taking good/discarding the bad in regards to modern "evangelism" efforts.  He has been exposed to many of the modern church planting techniques as his congregation is a church plant faithfully growing thanks to God's blessing.  He was able to show some common problems with modern evangelism and church planting schemes.

During the banquet on Friday evening the group assembled gave thanks to God for the work of Rev. Phil Grovenstein, Rev. David Londenberg and also Delano and Linda Meyer in the country of Sierra Leone.  Many pastors from the Wyoming District go over to Sierra Leone and  teach there as a part of Project Education: Sierra Leone.  See the project's website here; facebook page here.  That project also brings in pastors from Liberia as well and there are hopes to expand the project to that country as well.  The banquet was a fine way to show respect to those who came before and served tirelessly in a field that many would run from faster than Nineveh.

The worship was solidly liturgical and Lutheran, and many people gathered for Compline on Friday night with Rev. Marcus Zill accompanied by Dr. Steven Hoffman, the Kantor of King of Glory Lutheran in Cheyenne, WY.  Morning Prayer was also great, led by Rev. Paul Rosberg with preaching by Dr. Garwood.

For all of those who complain that confessionals are not interested in evangelism, this longstanding convocation debunks that myth.  Confessionals want people to meet the right Jesus and realize that our Lutheran beliefs will direct our Lutheran outreach.  It is all there, in our beliefs – no need to drink from other wells.

It was very nice to be at an evangelism conference where the only person snapping and telling of people going to hell was the guy demonstrating that as false teaching (thank you Rev. Poppe)!  It was also nice to attend one where the church and what happens in her walls was considered sacred time and space, rather than something to change in order to bring in the profanity of the world.  It was nice to see the Gospel being proclaimed to people in order to motivate them to good works rather than the deadly beating stick of the Law that so many evangelism teachers use.



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FW: How to learn to preach




Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 9:36 AM
Author: Pr. H. R.
Subject: How to learn to preach


Preaching is hard. This is the double plus profound conclusion I have come to. It is embarrassing to read back over many of my old sermons. Some I still like. Many I think were just...bad. I'm sure you've had similar experience. The preachers I respect the most are those who struggle with it the most and don't rest on their laurels.

The second double plus profound conclusion I have come to about preaching is that the only way to learn to be a better preacher is to read the sermons of the better preachers. I am honestly shocked that my seminary homiletics classes had almost none of this. I think one professor assigned us to read a couple of sermons. Maybe you had a different experience, but in my classes we spent a lot more time on technique, exegetical studies, Lowry Loops, object lessons, yadayadayada. I learned something or other from all of it, I suppose, but I really wish that I had started my reading of good preachers a lot earlier.

This is one of the main reasons to observe the Historic Lectionary. When I'm called to speak to pastors about worship or liturgy I always bring this up. Even if you are a fan of the post-Vatican II three year series, why not try out the Historic Lectionary for one year? If you do, every week you can read the sermons of Augustine and Chrysostom through the NPNF series (online for free), Luther (online for free), and countless others through the Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers volumes, and the Gospel volumes of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. This is a year-long course in homiletics vastly superior to any you have taken so far. I guarantee it. And if you don't love the Historic Lectionary after that year, go back to the 3-year series with what you have learned.


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FW: bread and wine, body and blood




Feed: divinae consortes naturae
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 7:21 AM
Author: (Paul)
Subject: bread and wine, body and blood


St. Ambrose of Milan

Perhaps you will say,

"I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?"

And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.

Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent. (Exodus 4:3-4)

Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river.

Again, at the prophet's prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned. The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves.

Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream. (Jos. 3:16)

Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock. (Exodus 17:6)

Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain?

Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered. (Exodus 15:25)

In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.

We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet's blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world:

"He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created."

Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.

But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the Incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. And this body which we make is that which was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.

The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims:

"This is My Body." (Matt. 26:26)

Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.

Christ, then, feeds His Church with these sacraments, by means of which the substance of the soul is strengthened, and seeing the continual progress of her grace, He rightly says to her: "How comely are your breasts, my sister, my spouse, how comely they are made by wine, and the smell of your garments is above all spices. A dropping honeycomb are your lips, my spouse, honey and milk are under your tongue, and the smell of your garments is as the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed." By which He signifies that the mystery ought to remain sealed up with you, that it be not violated by the deeds of an evil life, and pollution of chastity, that it be not made known to thou, for whom it is not fitting, nor by garrulous talkativeness it be spread abroad among unbelievers.

Your guardianship of the faith ought therefore to be good, that integrity of life and silence may endure unblemished.

(On the Mysteries 9.50-55)

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FW: The Chapel at Haaaavaaard (Harvard)...


More on Harvard…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Sunday, January 29, 2012 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: The Chapel at Haaaavaaard (Harvard)...


Most of us have some vague idea of the Calvinist origins of Harvard College, founded in 1636 as a Puritan and Congregationalist institution to train ministers. The Divinity School, in but not of Harvard College, came along later, in 1816, when it was the first non-denominational divinity school in the United States.   Remember that Princeton Theological Seminary was Presbyterian (1812) and the Calvinists fled Harvard to found Andover in 1807 because the Unitarians had taken over.  Harvard Divinity School has been an unofficial Unitarian school ever since (though it also claims ties to the almost Unitarian successor to Congregationalism, the United Church of Christ).  Harvard Divinity has a prestigious ring to it and this aura has attracted people from every religion over the years and the school has honored the religious pluralism of their student body by being among the most liberal and secular of the premier divinity schools of the Ivy League. 

How liberal and how secular was recently shown in the puff piece in the Christian Century on chapel at Harvard.  Apparently, there is little desire to resolve or smooth over the competing religious traditions represented on campus.  Instead, the students try to "embody" those diverse traditions and so mirror the popular separation of religion from spirituality and truth from piety that is so abundant in American culture.  According to the article, they keep the traditions distinct but the students try to get into those traditions by being Jews on the Sabbath, Muslims on Friday, Baptists at the altar call, Episopalians in the Prayer Book, Hindus for puja, Roman Catholics in the Church Year, etc...  What is most strange is that the bulk of the student body is still trying to train for service within a particular tradition and denomination and the hard question is how this multi-robed religious vesture aids and assists this goal.

According to the article: We want to be with each other as we truly are, they said. We want to be present for each other's prayers and rituals and practices. We want to be led in Torah study by the Jewish students and in Friday prayers by the Muslims; to listen to a dharma talk with the Buddhist students and hear a sermon with the Baptists; to be with the Episcopalian students for the Eucharist and with the Hindus for puja; to light Advent candles with the Roman Catholics, offer prayers at the flaming chalice with the Unitarian Universalists and keep silence with the Quakers.

While you will get no argument from me about keeping each of the religious traditions "pure" in their assigned chapel slots, the idea that we can morph in and out of religions is faithful and true to none of them.  This is the big lie of multiculturalism.  While in the past, the ecumenical goal might have been to reduce the distinctives of each religious tradition to find a muddle in the middle, the goal now is to put on the clothes of another faith and test them out from the inside by thinking or acting like that faith for a day (or, in this case, the chapel hour).  Surely this is no better attempt at religious diversity than the past effort to paper over differences and the end result will be that people are true to no tradition at all.  Instead of cafeteria Catholics or luncheon line Lutherans, we will end up with tasters at the religious buffet, with criss-crossed holy books and prayer forms creating a religious patchwork unique to the person.  The churches become mere buildings which house these unique individuals attached to nothing larger than themselves and their own tastes.  In this case, we should all be happy about the leadership Harvard Divinity is providing for it favors none and detracts from them all.

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FW: They have kneelers - and they use them




Feed: Intrepid Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, January 27, 2012 11:20 AM
Author: (Rev. Paul A. Rydecki)
Subject: They have kneelers - and they use them


I promised to share a few impressions of the symposia last week at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne. I won't bore you with a play-by-play journal of the week. But here are some things that struck me.

I didn't attend the Exegetical Symposium that took up the first part of the week. Instead, I attended the presentations for the Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions (Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning). The overarching theme was: Justification in a Contemporary Context.

The presentations were very scholarly. I think all the presenters had a doctorate in something or other, and several came from non-Lutheran circles. It seems that the purpose of the presentations was not to teach the truth, but to inform the audience regarding current philosophies and trends in the broader "Christian" context. Rather than, "This is what God says," it was more, "This is what so-and-so thinks (or thought) about justification." While that may be helpful for ecumenical dialogue, I would have preferred more discussion of the Scriptures and Confessions themselves. Justification is an article of doctrine that urgently needs to be studied among Lutherans, and the best way to get back to a Lutheran understanding of the chief article, in my opinion, would be to set aside everything written about it in the last 300 years. First Scripture, then the Confessions, then Luther and Chemnitz. Once we have learned from them how to believe and to speak like Lutherans again, then we can move forward cautiously from the 16th century.

For me, the high point of the week was getting to know the LCMS pastors and laity, as well as their culture. In addition to their friendliness, there was a seriousness among them that I have rarely seen in WELS circles, an eagerness to discuss theology and doctrine that was very refreshing. As one pastor told me, "It's a way of life." Say what you want about the problems in Missouri, but their conflicts and battles have forced them back into the Scriptures and the Confessions, and as a result, they are far more ready to speak and discuss than those who simply assume their orthodoxy or take it for granted.

There was actually a very open and honest admission in Ft. Wayne that the LCMS has major problems that need addressing. This didn't just come from a few disgruntled rabble rousers. It came from everyone - from recent seminary graduates to seminary professors to the synodical president Matt Harrison (who, I should mention, expressed to me his heartfelt love and appreciation for our president Schroeder and his joy in renewed discussions with the WELS). It seems to be a given in Missouri that the synod is sorely divided and in desperate need of repentance and help from Above.

…which brings me to what struck me most about the seminary in Ft. Wayne, and it has to do with their chapel. It's a beautiful, reverent chapel, with a baptismal font filled with water in the entryway. Many, though not all, would dip their fingers in the water and make the sign of the cross on themselves. There was lots of crossing oneself during the Matins and Vespers services, and a reverent bowing of the head at the Gloria Patri – without prompting and without any sort of chatty instruction from the presiding minister. There was a natural piety evident among the worshipers and among the ministers that was shamefully unfamiliar to me. Most noticeably to me, in their chapel they have kneelers – and they use them.

In all my years in the WELS, I can't remember ever kneeling in church. I recall seeing kneelers (but not using them) in the pews at only a few old WELS churches I have attended, and they were unheard of at the synodical schools I attended. (I honestly don't know if the chairs in our "newly" renovated seminary chapel have them. Maybe they do.)

What does this mean? It means nothing in and of itself. But to me, the kneeling I witnessed in Ft. Wayne is representative of a very salutary spirit within the Missouri Synod. Both of our synods have the Scriptures and the Confessions as their foundational documents. But both synods have clergy and congregations that have moved away from these foundations in this or in that area. Missouri tends to err more on the side of unionism, while the WELS tends to err more on the side of sectarianism. Neither synod practices much synodical discipline (at least, not the Scriptural kind). Neither synod is united within its own walls regarding the Office of the Holy Ministry, and both have remnants of Pietism and Church Growth philosophies and methodologies running rampant.

But Missouri is, for the most part, honest about this, open about her disunity, and prepared to acknowledge the seriousness of her flaws. More than that, her current president has repeatedly and publicly called his people (starting with himself) to repentance, and seems committed to addressing every issue from the Word of God. I see many, many LCMS pastors fighting for the historic, apostolic, Lutheran faith. But they are not fighting from a high horse. They are fighting from their knees. And that is a good thing. I hope it continues.

And I pray it rubs off. I know it did on me.



Dear Reader, while many have declared resonance with us, many more are still considering it. We invite you to Stand With Us.

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FW: The Swedish Preface




Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:11 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: The Swedish Preface


from the Olavus Petri Order from 1531 forms the basis of the invariable Preface found in Divine Service 4.  It's ironic, in some ways, that the German-heritage LCMS would be the preserver of a text that the old Augustana Synod folk would immediately recognize.  I've very glad that we still have it.  BUT.

But I truly wish that we had left all of it intact.  If we had, we'd have a prayer like this:

It is truly good, right, and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, O Lord, holy Father, almighty and everlasting God, for the countless blessings You so freely bestow upon us and all creation.  Above all, we give thanks for Your boundless love, that when we were in so bad a state that naught but death and eternal damnation awaited us, and no creature in heaven or on earth could help us, then You did send forth Your only-begotten Son, who is of the same divine nature as Yourself, and suffered Him to become flesh, being born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and did lay on Him our sin, giving Him into death that we might not die eternally....

Sad thing is, I think it's largely Maxwell's and my fault that those bolded goodies were lost, for the preface as it appears in LSB DS IV is clearly a slight revision of the proposed Eucharistia that Maxwell and I suggested (and which Quill chronicles in *The Impact of the Liturgical Movement on American Lutheranism* - see p. 209,210) - and in that Eucharistia the phrases bolded above were not included.  I don't know about you, but I think it a sad oops.  It would have been that much stronger a prayer had we not "downsized" it in our paper and subsequently had it not been downsized in the Hymnal.

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FW: The Blessings of Weekly Communion




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:09 PM
Author: Norm Fisher
Subject: The Blessings of Weekly Communion


My church has "forever" had communion every Sunday, but at alternate services. Early service for the 1st and 3rd Sundays, and late service for the 2nd and 4th Sundays. So people who wanted every-Sunday communion could do it by simply alternating which service they attend each week.

I'm pleased that as of Easter Sunday 2011, we moved to communion in every Service. We spent a year working with the congregation talking about the change (We are Lutherans .. we don't like change!), which included using CPH's book, The Blessings of Weekly Communion.

I can say that after several months, the congregation has fully accepted the practice and we are all enjoying the benefits of communion offered at every service.

Here is the article written by our pastor from our April 2011 church newsletter; mailed out to all congregation members prior to the change. I thought it well written to describe the reasons for making the change, and perhaps useful for other congregations who are interested in moving towards every Sunday communion.



Your Pastors and Elders have been studying the biblical wisdom of having Holy Communion at every Sunday and Wednesday service for well over a year now. During this time the Board of Elders and Pastors have read and discussed a very persuasive book entitled, "The Blessings of Weekly Communion" filled with convincing reasons why we should restore this practice of every service, every Sunday Communion.

To appreciate the Sacrament of the Altar, and desire it regularly, you first have to understand what it is, and why Christ wants us to receive "often".  Far too many regular church-goers don't understand. They think that they are doing God a service by coming to church. While they're willing to do this for an hour or so each week, they're unsure whether they want to commit to the longer Communion worship format each week. They feel like we are asking them to "up" their commitment to the Lord by asking them to stay in church twenty minutes longer every other Sunday morning or Wednesday evening.

But attending church is not a service we perform for God's benefit. It's the other way around. God is doing us a far greater service when we come to church. For God has gifts that He wants to give to us in the divine service. Gifts found only in His Word and Sacraments. God's reason for wanting you in worship is so that you can freely receive His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. For worship is where God gives us these gifts in His Word and Sacraments.

Long ago, Jesus Christ won forgiveness and peace with God for us by His cross. Then Jesus Christ gave us eternal victory over our enemies sin, death, and the devil by His resurrection. We call this good news — the Gospel. Christians gather weekly to hear this Gospel preached to us, and to receive this very same Gospel visibly, tangibly, and personally by receiving Christ's body and blood. God wants to give us a double portion of His love and grace for us in Christ in worship centered on His preached Word and distributed Supper of forgiveness.

As Christians we gather weekly in the confidence that Christ is present among us in His Word and Sacrament. For these, along with Holy Baptism, are the means of grace by which Christ has chosen to save us. Just as we come to church in order to hear about what Christ accomplished for us by His obedient suffering and death, so we come to receive with our lips that same Christ who comes to us in His own true body and blood.

Like the sermon, the sacrament is the way that Christians shed their sins, receive God's mercy and Christ's forgiveness. Do we have to receive the Sacrament of the Altar weekly? Of course not. But should the church make the Lord's Supper available for those who do desire it that frequently? Yes. When you realize that the Lord's Supper is God's gift to His people in Christ to strengthen faith, to forgive sinners, to turn hearts back to God, and to bring us Jesus — making it available every Sunday and every Wednesday really seems like a "no brainer".

Luther and the Lutherans after him thought so too. In our Lutheran Confessions, which all Lutheran Pastors and Congregations are sworn to uphold, we learn that during the Reformation Era and after, it was the practice of every Lutheran congregation to celebrate the Lord's Supper at every service on every Sunday because of the extremely high importance that Lutherans have historically placed on the Gospel comfort that Holy Communion provides. The early Lutherans understood that as sinners Christians are constantly in need of what the Lord wants to give us in the Lord's supper.

It's unfortunate that in the years following the Reformation that this church practice of offering the Sacrament of the Altar in every service faded away and was forgotten. Pietism and other spiritual movements within Christianity lessened the importance of the Lord's Supper in the life of the Lutheran Church. When these lower views of the Sacrament became dominant, it lessened the frequency of a Christian's desire to receive the Sacrament. People even became afraid of the Sacrament which God had intended only to bring abundant comfort and reassurance to believers. At this, the Lutheran Church's lowest theological point, the Sacrament was only celebrated four times a year so that members did not run what they considered the great risk of receiving it unworthily. This happened as strict spiritual preparation for the Lord's Supper became more important than the Gospel intent of the Lord's Supper. Over time our Biblical understanding of the Lord's Supper as Gospel, and the frequency of its use have made a comeback in Lutheran congregations.

Most of the arguments against the practice of every Sunday, every service Communion are really not biblical objections at all, but rather utilitarian concerns such as: "Won't it take too long?" Others will worry that it will take away from the specialness of the Lord's Supper. However, we preach the Gospel every Sunday without any similar concern or objection. Others will fear that it will turn into a form of legalism by making members feel that they must come forward to the altar every time the Lord's Supper is offered. However, we want it to be abundantly clear that our congregation is only making the Sacrament available to those who may desire it on a given Sunday, without making any judgments about those who will continue to prefer taking it less often. Finally, there are some logistic concerns that we need to work out. We are concerned that the service not run too long. We are also concerned with how to continue to fit in the children's message. We ask for your love, your prayers, and your patience as we work through these details to get them right.

I am thankful to serve a congregation in our more secular times which still recognizes the biblical importance of the Lord's Supper and treasures its Gospel reassurance. I hope you are thankful to belong to such a church.

God's Steward of the Mysteries of God,
Pastor Mark Elliott
St John Lutheran Church
Champaign, IL

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FW: Lord, teach me...




Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Lord, teach me...


A prayer that is a favorite of mine was authored by +W. Harry Krieger.  Old ones like me will recall the name and the man.  Anyway the prayer is, I believe, original by him.  It is a prayer that I like because of what it says and how it says it.  It is the kind of prayer you pray all the time because the need is ever present and its petitions never go out of style.

Teach me, O Lord, not to hold on to life too tightly.  Teach me to hold it lightly; not carelessly, but lightly, easily.  Teach me to take it as a gift, to enjoy and cherish while I have it, and to let go gracefully and thankfully when the time comes.  For the gift is great, but the Giver greater still.  You are the Giver, O Lord, and in You is the life that never dies; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen  

Another one by Krieger that is also very good but not quite as good as the first is this one.

Disturb us, O Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves; when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little; when we have arrived in safety because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, O Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the water of life; when having fallen in love with time we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build the new earth, have allowed our vision of the new heaven to grow dim. Stir us, O Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas, where storms shall show Thy mastery, where losing sight of land we shall find the stars. In the name of Him who pushed back the horizons of our hopes and invited the brave to follow Him. Amen.

I have learned much by praying the prayers others have written and I continue to learn much from the prayers authored by others.  Once someone told me that when I prayed (in public) I sounded like a prayer book.  I took it as a compliment.  It was not meant that way.  I have to say that I really don't know how else you learn to pray than by praying the prayers of others.  As a child I learned to pray from the prayers of the hymnal and the prayers of my parents.  I expect most Christians who grew up in Christian homes learned the same way.  The collects were particularly impressive to me and still are.  Everyone ought to give thanks for those Germans who turned to the Book of Common Prayer in attempting to translate the ancient collects into English.  You cannot go wrong with Cranmer.

The language of prayer should elevate as well as communicate.  I am not at all suggesting that simpler or more basic language is not pleasing to God or that He does not hear those prayers. Perhaps its is like the old dilemma -- is your spouse the one person you can dump on or the one person you cannot?  I believe that it is not a bad thing to begin prayer by remembering that God is God and you are not.  Good language and good prayer models can help us understand this.  Praying is not like a couple of old friends sitting on a bar stool pouring their heart out to each other.  Praying always begins with the acknowledgement that God is God, the Most High, and we are creature, sinner, and unworthy of His ear or His answer.

I am not too excited about attempts to modernize old prayers.  It seems to me that tinkering with the language of old prayers is a bit like tinkering with  the language of hymns -- it may be communicate better but it does so with a whole lot less eloquence.  I have a number of prayer books (including Doberstein's Minister's Prayer Book) and they are like old friends to me.  Sometimes, when I being reading the prayers (and praying them) I find I cannot stop and end up going on and on -- they are so absolutely addictive.

I recall a lesson in which we were asked to write a collect (an English literature class in an LCMS college).  It was harder than a sonnet and it taught me something about the language of prayer, about the cadence of the words, about the richness of those words, and about the wisdom of those who have gone before me.  Too many prayers are rather pedestrian -- you pray them once, okay, but you are not likely to pray them again.  I am just the opposite.  I tend to prayer the same prayers over and over again -- because through them I have learned to prayer and those prayers have become the scripts so faithful to the desires of my heart.

Like this one.

Almighty God, unto Whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee, and worthily magnify Thy holy Name: through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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FW: Ach Jesu, der du uns zugut




Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2012 5:39 AM
Author: Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes)
Subject: Ach Jesu, der du uns zugut



Here is my translation of the Candlemas/Purification hymn, "Ach Jesu, der du uns zugut" as found in the Strassburg Hymnal (766 Psalmen…, etc.). It is sung to the tune "Christum wir sollen loben schon."



O JESUS, who, to set us free,

Wast born in utter poverty,

Lain in a manger for a cot,

And of Thy riches given naught:


2. In forty days Thou didst not scorn

Into the temple to be borne,

Where godly Simeon did hail

And hold Thee to his bosom frail.


3. What he awaited glad and fain

By Thee that day he did obtain,

And with his heart his God adored,

That he should live to see his Lord.


4. Then Anna, widow great of age

By many known a seeress sage,

Who of God's Word was not ashamed,

Approached, and wondrous things proclaimed.


5. O Christ, assist Thy flock on earth

To be Thy children by new birth,

To turn to Thee with heart sincere,

Thy Spirit's teachings to revere.


6. Thy Word let be our constant guide,

That in Thy temple we abide,

Wherein we please Thee, where we praise

And give Thee thanks for all our days.


7. What in Thy Church we ask of Thee,

By Thee is granted faithfully;

O blest are they who meet Thee there

And never from her courtyards err.


8. All-holy Christ, be this our plea,

Who wast made Man, that men might be

Thy children in Thy holy name,

And ever Thee as Lord acclaim.


Translation © Matthew Carver, 2011.



Ach Jesu der du uns zugut

geborn bist in grosser Armut,

in einer Krippen gelegen,

hast wenig dein lassen pflegen.


2. Und hast dich nach vierzig Tagen

lassen in den Tempel tragen,

da Simeon der fromme Mann

dich auf sein alte Arme nam.


3. Was er vor langest hätt begehrt,

deß wird er jetzt von dir gewährt.

Drum preist er Gott aus Herzengrund,

daß er erlebt hätt solche Stund.


4. Ein Wittwe alt, Anna genannt,

ein Prophetin vielen bekannt,

die Gottes Wort fleissig anhing,

trat auch hinzu, redt grosse Ding.


5. Hilf, Christe, deim Volk auf Erden,

daß wir geistlich Kinder werden,

und uns zu dir herzlich bekehrn,

und deinen Geist uns lassen lehrn.


6. Und daß dein Wort uns stets regier,

und immer zu deim Tempel führ,

in welchem man dir behaget

dich lobet und dir danksaget.


7. Recht alles was man da begehrt

wird uns treulich von dir gewährt;

O selig der, so in dein Haus

kommt und fällt nicht wieder heraus.


8. Das hilf uns, du viel heilger Christ,

denn du darum Mensch worden bist,

daß uns in deim heilgen Namen

geholfen werd ewig! Amen.

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