Saturday, June 29, 2013

FW: This parking garage speaks volumns




Feed: respublica
Posted on: Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:23 PM
Author: Diane Meyer
Subject: This parking garage speaks volumns


The Kansas City Library has a parking garage facade which looks like this

When the garage was built in 2006 people in the community and library card holders were asked to vote on the titles to be displayed and the ones chosen reflect a wide range of famous literature.

How cool is this? Nothing ugly about a parking lot here.

Pointed out by my sister, thanks Kathy.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Received for Review


Nichols, Stephen J. Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life: From the Cross, For the World. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 206 Pages. Paper. $17.99. (LHP)

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

FW: Five Things You Can Do … Great New Series from Concordia Publishing House


Order today…


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 8:20 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Five Things You Can Do … Great New Series from Concordia Publishing House



A year or so ago we sent out a survey to all Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod pastors who have provided the Missouri Synod with their email addresses, which is to say, nearly all of them. We wanted to know if they would be open toward and supportive of a series of short, to the point, easy to read and very well done presentations on key topics that people in their congregations have on their mind and are asking them about. So, the survey had a list of topics from which they could choose AND questions asking them about what other topics they are asked about. The response to this survey was overwhelmingly positive and simply, well, overwhelming. We received thousands of responses. We have never experienced such a high response rate to any survey like this before. Obviously, there has been an "itch" for this kind of a series and we were scratching it.

As a result of that survey, we set to work producing nine titles that were directly requested by our Missouri Synod pastors. And, as of now, we have published all nine.

And, in order to really get these out there, we are offering them at a bulk discount pricing of only $4.00 each when you purchase five or more of any given topic. Four bucks for a great little book. That's a nearly 50% saving from the full price. We would like to think that many pastors will be choosing several, or all, of these titles ,and distributing them to their congregation, and then perhaps simply stock up on them to have them on hand as the need arises.Again, the discount applies when you purchase FIVE or more of any given title. You must use discount code: LDO when you check out. Or, call 800-325-3040.

We have each of them available in Kindle format too, obviously, for a single copy purchase price. You can find them all listed on Amazon here: —–> CLICK HERE. YES, RIGHT HERE.

Here are all the books in the series. We have a "look inside" function for each of the titles. Just click on the title and take a look.


Understand the Bible Better

Witness Christ

Make Your Marriage Stronger

Read the Bible Prayerfully

Have a Faithful Prayer Life

Appreciate Science and Love the Bible

Have a Stronger Family

Live a Jesus-Centered Life

Make Your Congregation a Caring Church







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FW: Announcing! The Lutheran Propers


Order today…


Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 2:01 PM
Author: Fr BFE
Subject: Announcing! The Lutheran Propers


At long last, the project is complete!

The Lutheran Propers 
is the product of several years of editing materials from seasonal booklets which had been at use at St. Paul's in Kewanee since 1998.  Anyone who has attended Oktoberfest has seen those booklets.

In this book, it all comes together under one handsome cover, or two, if you choose the option of purchasing in parts.

But that's not all.  In addition, the musical settings for the propers  for every Sunday and feast day of the year, taken from The Concordia Liturgical series for Church Choirs, ed., Walter E. Buszin (St. Louis: Concordia, 1942, 1944) are included.  These settings are currently out of print, but the St. Paul's choir has been using them for years. A major intention of this book is to make these beautiful musical settings more easily available for choral or congregational use.

In addition, the appointed one-year series readings are listed, and a second series of one-year readings, courtesy of The Lutheran Hymnal, is provided as well, for congregations that regularly have midweek services.

Suggested hymns are also provided, in two columns.  The first column contains suggested hymns for congregations that use Lutheran Service Book and the second is for those who still use The Lutheran Hymnal.  

And even that's not all.  An appendix of about forty hymns is included.  Most of these are in public domain, hymns that might be in one of the hymnals but not the other (and where copyright issues are a factor, the music or settings have not been provided, but the hymn will generally be a familiar one anyhow), and some of the hymns are new, published or soon to be published in Gottesdienst.

There are two options for purchasing, both by going directly to  One is to purchase the complete edition, pictured nearby.  The discounted cost (direct from is around $22.00.  This edition is 368 pages, however, which makes it a little bulky for use by choirs or in the pews.  So another option has been made available, which is to purchase this in two parts: Advent through Lent (available here), and Easter through the end of the church year (available here).  Each part can be purchased for about $13.00.  So while the total in that case would come to a bit more per set, it's recommended for congregational use.

Here's a preview.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Received for Review


Bennett, Robert H. I Am Not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare: True Accounts from the Lutheran Church of Madagascar. St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 216 Pages. Paper. $24.99. (LHP)

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

FW: Pastor Tullian’s Nightstand



Feed: Liberate
Posted on: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 11:01 AM
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Subject: Pastor Tullian's Nightstand



I was was recently interviewed by Matt Smethurst for The Gospel Coalition about my reading habits and about the books that have most influenced me.  Here's the interview:

What's on your nightstand right now?

My nightstand is a mess—the biggest eyesore in our bedroom (according to my wife). I have about 30 books piled up on top of each other. I'm constantly reading, and I'm always reading more than one book at a time. I have everything from books I've been asked to endorse to books I'm consulting for my current sermon series to books I'm reading for fun.

I'm also a curious reader, which means I'm always reading books by people just to find out how they write and what they say about certain things—which means I'm not simply reading books by people within my theological tradition. One of my concerns about some who would consider themselves "reformed" is that they only read books by other "reformed" people. This, in my opinion, is a big mistake. And when some do read books outside their own theological tradition, they only do so with an eye to critique instead of an eye to learn. At least this was my mistake for far too many years. I graduated from a well-known reformed seminary (and am unbelievably grateful for the education I received there), and I never heard of any of the books, theologians, or scholars I list below (except one). I have, therefore, greatly varied my reading over the past five years or so and am reading many more books by writers, thinkers, and scholars outside of my theological  tradition. Seven years ago I heard Tim Keller say, "When you read one thinker, you become a clone. Two thinkers, you become confused. Ten thinkers, you begin developing your own voice. Two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise."

So a few books on my nightstand right now include: Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris, Luther: An Introduction to His Thought by Gerhard Ebeling, The Foolishness of Preaching by Robert Capon, On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard Forde, The Mockingbird Devotional by Ethan Richardson and Sean Norris (eds.), The Genius of Luther's Theology by Robert Kolb and Charles Arand, This American Gospel by Ethan Richardson, Between Noon and Three by Robert Capon, The Reconstruction of Morality by Karl Holl, Living by Faith by Oswald Bayer, Handling the Word of Truth by John Pless, and How to Talk So People Will Listen by Steve Brown.

What are you learning about life and following Jesus?

I'm learning, in the words of Eugene Peterson, that "discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God's righteousness and less and less attention to our own." The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it's terribly narcissistic. We spend too much time thinking about how we're doing, if we're growing, whether we're doing it right or not. We spend too much time pondering our spiritual failures and brooding over our spiritual successes. Somewhere along the way we've come to believe that the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian.

Ironically, I've discovered that the more I focus on my need to get better, the worse I actually get—I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our performance over Christ's performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself. "He must increase but I must decrease" (John 3:30) properly describes the painful sanctification process. "Decreasing" is impossible for the one who keeps thinking about himself. As J. C. Kromsigt said, "The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth." Thankfully, the focus of the Bible is not the work of the redeemed but the work of the Redeemer. The gospel frees us from ourselves. It announces that this whole thing is about Jesus and dependent on Jesus. The good news is the declaration of his victory for us, not our "victorious Christian life." The gospel asserts that God's final word over a Christian has already been spoken: "Paid in full."

What are some books you regularly re-read and why?

There are four books I've re-read a few times in the last two years: Living by Grace by William Hordern, The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz, Who Will Deliver Us? by Paul Zahl, and Sanctification by Harold Senkbeil. All four of those books have been extremely helpful to me personally and theologically. They've helped me better understand my sin, God's grace, and the distinction between the law and the gospel. They've guided me through deep and wide pastoral challenges and, I think, made me a better preacher, pastor, and counselor.

What are your favorite fiction books?

I'm not a huge reader of fiction. I consider that to be a weakness in my reading habits, not a strength. I would strongly encourage readers of theology to increase their reading of fiction. When our reading habits become one-dimensional, our thinking becomes one-dimensional. But three fiction books that have profoundly influenced me are Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, The Hammer of God by Bo Giertz, and The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

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FW: A Huge Thank You To Our Fans, And Some Exciting News.


Hymnody Resurgent…


From: Page CXVI []
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 7:39 AM
Subject: A Huge Thank You To Our Fans, And Some Exciting News.


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Good morning friends!

Firstly, to everyone who supported our indiegogo efforts to raise money for the upcoming Church Calendar project, THANK YOU!!! We couldn't do this without you. We think it'll be special, and are super excited to share it with you all. You'll be hearing from us soon.

We have some very exciting news to share with you.

Even though we didn't hit our $60K goal through our fundraiser campaign, we're going to pinch our pennies, and make ALL THREE church calendar hymns records! We think this project will be more complete with all three, and it'd be a shame to miss out on any one of these. We're making one for each of the following seasons:

-Advent and Christmas
-Lent, Palm Sunday, and Maundy Thursday
-Good Friday and Easter

For those who missed the chance to get all three records by donating to the indiegogo project, we're offering the opportunity to pre-order all of the same perks directly through us. Find more information here by visiting:

Also, if you missed the story behind why we do what we do, it's a long read, but we think you'll like it. Click here to read it.

We want to thank you, once more, for being such great fans. We're excited to share these records with you.



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©2013 Page CXVI | PO BOX 1025 Lafayette, CO 80026




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Friday, June 14, 2013

FW: What is the Lectionary? Where did we get it? Why is it important?




Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Friday, June 14, 2013 5:05 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: What is the Lectionary? Where did we get it? Why is it important?




The other day a person asked us here at Concordia Publishing House where, exactly, did the lectionary systems Lutherans use today come from. Great question! My colleague, Rev. Scot Kinnaman, prepared a very helpful summary history that I thought I would pass along here. I added just a bit to it here and there. As Scot notes elsewhere when he first posted these materials, "It should be noted. Much of this article was first put together several years ago when several of us pastors in the circuit were keenly interested in the historic lectionary, and there was not talk yet of a new hymnal (probably 1997—1998)." I've since learned that Rev. Alexander Ring prepared papers on this topic and some of his materials were incorporated in the material below as well. In fact, Rev. Ring gracious sent me copies of the papers he did on this subject back in the late 1990s and I'm making them available to you here, for even more detail. Thanks, Alex! Pastor Ring's papers provide much more detail and I'm sure you will find them very useful. The following are PDF files.

Path of Understanding by Rev. Alexander Ring: Path of Understanding – Ring

The Organization of the Historic Lectionary by Rev. Alexander Ring: Organization of the Historic Lectionary

ILCW/RCL Omissions and Edits by Rev. Alexander Ring: ILCW:RCL Omissions and Edits

Bibliography on the Lectionary, for further study, by Rev. Alexander Ring: Lectionary Bibliography for Further Study

First, let me explain what a "lectionary" is. It is a series of readings from the Bible used every Sunday in congregational worship. In addition, there are readings appointed to be read on every major feast and festival day in the Church year, which often do not fall on a Sunday.

A lectionary, when used properly and consistently, permits the preacher to preach through the whole counsel of God in an orderly manner, in a way that is both memorable and thematic. The entire thematic structure of the Church Year itself is reflected in the lectionary reading choices as well. Honestly, liturgical churches that use a lectionary take it totally for granted, but it comes as quite a revelation (no pun intended) for those who know nothing about it and learn of it for the first time.

Today the lectionaries used in Lutheran and other liturgical churches include a reading from one of the four Gospels, a reading from some other book in the New Testament, generally the Epistles, and a reading from the Old Testament. The Gospel reading is considered the main reading and the other readings are intended to support the preaching on, and explanation of, the content of the Gospel reading. In Lutheran and other liturgical churches, we stand for the reading of the Gospel, in honor of Christ who is often the one speaking in the Gospel reading, or being spoken about directly.

It is generally accepted that what we know today as the "historic lectionary" was first established by Jerome (c. A.D. 342-­420). Having the name of Jerome attached to the lectionary made it influential on its own, but when it was later included in the Leonine Sacramentary it became a standard text for the Western Church. The oldest extant copy of this Sacramentary dates from seventh century. A "sacramentary" is a book that contained everything the priest would say during the worship service. At this time, the lectionary provided assigned readings only for the Church Year seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, with the rest of the year covered by optional readings, as chosen either by the local pastor or local bishop.

When Charlemagne decided to standardize liturgical practices in his domain, which included basically what we know as Western and Central Europe, his religious advisor, Alcuin (c. 735-­804), prepared a revision of Jerome's work.  This standardized worship in the Western Church and put everyone, quite literally, on the same page, at least for the festival part of the year, the first half of the Church Year.

The next major change to the lectionary would not come until the 13th century with the  establishment of Holy Trinity as a major festival in the Church. Holy Trinity soon came to dominate the second half of the church year, and with that came the establishment of assigned "propers" for the entire year so that by the end of the 13th century the liturgical practice of the Western Church, year round, was governed by the Historic lectionary, though it wouldn't be until the Council of Trent that the Roman Church actually enforced and stabilized its use. The "propers" are those readings during the worship service that change from Sunday to Sunday, and from festival to festival. They include in addition to the Scripture readings: readings from the Psalms, shorter biblical texts for transitioning from reading to reading, and a prayer for each Sunday and festival, known as a collect. Together these readings are known as "propers" as distinct from the "ordinaries," which are those portions of the liturgy that remain the same, Sunday to Sunday. A good way to remember the differences is simply to say, "It is proper to change the propers, but ordinaries ordinarily do not change."

During the Reformation the question wasn't, "Should the lectionary be changed?" only whether it should be used at all. While Zwingli and others Refomers liked him abolished the use of lectionaries, along with the observation of the church year all together, Calvin substituted a continuous reading through the Bible, called a lectio continuo, in place of the historic lectionary, since he saw homiletical value in having some sort of assigned reading, even while he too wanted to do away with the liturgical practices of the Western Church.

The Lutherans, on the other hand, believed that the lectionary did not promote false doctrine and so they retained the historic lectionary with only slight revisions—the most notable being they added propers for Trinity 25 and 26, and most Lutherans moved  Transfiguration from August 6 to the last Sunday after Epiphany, though the date to observe Transfiguration was retained by some Lutherans, most notably, the Church of Sweden.

Luther directed that the historic lectionary should be used in both of his revisions to the Roman Catholic Mass and published them in his Formula Missae [Form of the Mass] and Deutsche Messe [German Mass] (these documents are found in the American Edition of Luther's Works, Vol. 25). All Lutheran altar books continued to use the historic lectionary. Even the Augsburg Confession and the Apology testify to its official use in Lutheran congregations (Article XXVI and Apology, XXIV.1). For the next 400 years, Lutheran retained this common historic lectionary, along with  Roman Catholics and Anglicans. It served as the basis for preaching and devotional books, hymnody and church music, and even until the mid 20th century was included in every Lutheran hymnal.

There certainly is a history of other lectionaries being prepared. Even in Luther's day, it is recorded that among the Lutheran there were different lectionaries begin used. It is important and useful to note that these were not individualistic undertakings, but that all the churches in a district or area would be using the same 'variation'. In 1896, the Eisenach Conference churches of the Prussian Union  produced a lectionary, popularized in the United States by a Lutheran professor, Richard Lenski, when he published his notes on the series. The Synodical Conference (a group of conservative American Lutheran churches) produced a one year lectionary series which was adopted in 1912 and included by the framers of The Lutheran Hymnal as a "Second Series" available for use on Sundays (TLH, p. 159ff). In 1868, the Scandinavian Lutheran Church produced a three-year lectionary for their use. Yet often these alternate lectionaries were produced not to supplant the Historic lectionary but to supplement it, often adding Old Testament readings or offering alternate texts for preaching. The patterns and themes of the Historic lectionary were maintained.

Fifteen years after the release of The Lutheran Hymnal in 1941, American Lutheran church bodies were seeking a revision. In 1965 the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod resolved to appoint a commission that would work with other Lutheran church bodies to produce a new common hymnal. On February 10, 1966 representatives of the LCMS, the American Lutheran Church and the Lutheran Church in America met in Chicago and formed what would become the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW).  Later, representatives of the Slovak Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCIC) joined the Commission. Among other issues, the ILCW dealt with the church year calendar and proposed a multi-year lectionary, citing a "widespread restiveness with the appointed readings, a great deal of experimentation, and a desire for either reform of the pericopes or a completely new lectionary," resulting from "a variety of influences in current theology, social-ethical involvements, developments in worship practice, and especially the influential biblical theology movement of recent decades" (Contemporary Worship 6: The Church Year Calendar and Lectionary. Prepared by the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House; Philadelphia: Board of Publications of the Lutheran Church in America; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1973. p. 13).

These sentiments were obviously heavily influenced by the same changes going on in the Roman Catholic Church, leading to the decision by Vatican II to publish a new lectionary system, the Ordo Lectionum Missae , released in 1969. This new  three-year series that supplanted the Historic Lectionary throughout much of the Roman Catholic Church. The next year the Protestant Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church and United Church of Christ adopted the Ordo as a basis for their new lectionaries. Having already set aside concern for loyalty to the received heritage and reverence for Western tradition, the ILCW simply followed suit when in 1973 the ILCW published its version of the three-year Roman Ordo. The ILCW three-year series established a lectio continua of synoptic gospel assigned to each year: "Year A" focuses on Matthew, "Year B" on Mark and "Year C" on Luke. John is featured in all three series during the Sundays after Easter, and appears extensively along with Mark in Year B especially in Advent, Christmas and Lent. The Three-Year series assigned a First Lesson, usually the Old Testament, to coordinate with the Gospel reading. A lectio continua, reading of the Epistles was assigned to each year with no special effort to coordinate the Epistle with the Gospel selection.

With the inclusion of the ILCW three-year series in the LCMS' hymnal Lutheran Worship (1982), the ELCA's Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), WELS' Christian Worship (1993), and the ELS' Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), this series quickly became popular in Lutheran circles. Even though the ILCW had offered a revision of the historic (one-year) lectionary  to be included with the three-year series, within fifteen years its use had sharply fallen.

However common and widely used it was among Lutherans, the ILCW three-year series become one of the most short-lived lectionary series. Two years after the formation of the ILCW, representatives of the ELCA, ELCIC and LCMS had joined an ecumenical group called the Consultation on Common Texts (CCT). Composed of biblical, linguistic and liturgical scholars from various Christian denominations, their purpose was to prepare worship texts and materials for use in North America, including lectionaries. In 1978 they sponsored a meeting in Washington DC whose purpose was to form a committee which would reconcile the differences between the various denominational uses of the three-year series. Ultimately the LCMS withdrew from this group. In 1983 the remaining members published the Common Lectionary.

The biggest change in the Common Lectionary over its ILCW predecessor was the revision of Old Testament Lessons. The framers of the ILCW lectionaries had selected texts with reference to their New Testament fulfillment (typological approach). The CCT questioned the validity of imposed typology on the Old Testament scriptures. Instead, the Common Lectionary used a pattern of semicontinuous readings, which were essentially independent from the Gospel. The CCT also included an appointed Psalm  in the Sunday readings. Another notable change was the adoption of the Episcopal Church's practice of replacing the "Sundays after Pentecost" with "Propers" keyed to the civil calendar. Simply put, the Common Lectionary very much reflects the liberal view of the Scriptures and purposely moves away from the belief that the Old Testament is directly predictive of the events in the life of Christ, etc.

The Common Lectionary was first used on a trial basis by a number of Lutheran and Episcopal congregations. The first church officially to adopt it for use in their congregations was the  Anglican Church of Canada in 1985. Early on the Common Lectionary received a number of criticisms, These were directed especially from Lutheran, Episcopal and Roman Catholic sources. Ultimately, and in  response to those criticisms, the CCT published the Revised Common Lectionary in 1992. In addition three versions of the RLC were framed to taken into account criticism of the earlier Old Testament selections: There is a Roman Catholic version which at times uses readings from the Apocrypha for the Old Testament Lesson. And then there are two Protestant versions, one in which the typological approach to assigning the Old Testament lesson matched to the Gospel is used, and the other with the semicontinuous Old Testament readings. The increasing influence of social issues on the selection of texts is seen in the revisions of the RCL as added are more stories of women of faith, and the elimination of texts deemed to appear anti-Semitic when taken out of their cultural and religious context of the Ancient Near East.

The RCL has become the lectionary of the Episcopal Church, the ELCA and ELCIC. It is the official lectionary of the United Methodist Church, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. The LCMS never adopted the RCL. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod published a new hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, in 2006. The three year lectionary was carefully reviewed and slightly revised, so that at this point, the three year lectionary in use by The LCMS and the Lutheran Church—Canada is unique and distinct, in various ways, from the three-year series used in the Roman Catholic Church and other liturgical church bodies. But, overall, the same general structure and approach is used.

At the time the Lutheran Service Book hymnal was published, due to increasing interest in the older historic lectionary, for the first time since The Lutheran Hymnal, there was now again support for the one-year historic lectionary, with a separate lectionary book published. At this time it is estimated that as many as 800 LCMS congregations have chosen to use the one year lectionary, or keep using it. The Missouri Synod's publishing company, Concordia Publishing House, will be releasing an every Sunday bulletin line for the historic lectionary, for the first time in over thirty years. The following offers more insight into the work of the Lutheran Service Book committees:

From the beginning of the development of LSB, the Lectionary Committee determined that both the three and one-year lectionaries would be included in LSB. Since the introduction of the three-year lectionary in the Lutheran Church in the early 1970s, the great majority of congregations have made use of it. Though the number of congregations currently using the one-year lectionary is relatively small, the committee believed it essential to retain this historic lectionary, though with some modifications.

 Three-Year Lectionary (LSB pp. xiv–xix)

The committee's work concerning the three-year lectionary centered on the extent to which it would make use of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which was published in 1992. The committee studied the issue carefully and, at the direction of the Commission on Worship, endeavored to bring considerable commonality with the RCL, especially during the Sundays after Pentecost. During festivals such as Christmas, Holy Week, and Easter, however, the lectionary reflects greater commonality with the one-year lectionary.

Among some of the features of the revised three-year lectionary are the following:

•  Some Old Testament readings have been changed so that they are more closely connected to the Gospel for the day.

•  Most of Acts 1–2 is read consecutively every year according to the following schedule:

Ascension Day Acts 1:1–11 (First Reading)

Easter 7 Acts 1:12–26 (First Reading)

Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1–21 (Second Reading)

Holy Trinity Acts 2:14a, 22–36 (Second Reading)

•  Following the original intentions of the three-year lectionary, the Psalm of the Day is not understood to be a separate reading but rather a response to the Old Testament/First Reading. With the inclusion of 107 psalms in the Pew Edition, the selections for Psalm of the Day have been completely revised. Every effort has been made to use whole psalms. When a portion of a longer psalm is appointed, the committee endeavored to make the selection of verses as straightforward as possible to avoid causing confusion for the worshiper.

As explained above, the Sundays after Pentecost follow the system that is used in the RCL. In this system, specific propers are assigned to a period of seven consecutive days, each being given the designation "Proper" with a number following. Unlike the current system in Lutheran Worship, where Sundays are skipped at the end of the church year, the new calendar places the "skip" at the beginning, right after the Sunday of the Holy Trinity. The designation "__________ Sunday after Pentecost" is retained as a more churchly way of identifying the Sunday, rather than by the "Proper" number. Though a bit different than our current practice, this new calendar is quite easy to use, partly because it is so logically conceived.

One-Year Lectionary (LSB pp. xx–xxi)

The committee quickly determined that the historic one-year lectionary, together with its calendar, would be retained. Benefits of using this lectionary include an annual repetition of key biblical texts and the ability to consult historic resources, such as Martin Luther's various series of sermons on the Gospels and Epistles. Among the features of the LSB one-year lectionary are the following:

•  The traditional Gospels and Epistles are retained. In a few cases an alternate Gospel is provided. More frequently, an alternate Epistle is also included.

•  The Old Testament readings were completely revised with the goal of providing readings that are closely related to the Holy Gospel for each day.

•  The pre-Lent season, also known as the "gesima" Sundays, is retained.

•  A minor adjustment from the historic calendar occurs in the weeks following Easter. Whereas the earlier calendar referred to these as the Sundays "after" Easter, the revised calendar mirrors the three-year lectionary in designating them as the Sundays "of Easter. The traditional Latin names for the Sundays have been retained, as have the appointed readings.

Some concluding thoughts and cautions when discussing the issue of the lectionary.

There never has been, nor ever will be, "a perfect lectionary." Frankly, even the worst of them is probably better than nothing at all. What is hugely obvious is that just as there is no such thing as a theologically neutral translation of the Scriptures, so too there is no such thing as a theologically neutral lectionary. The Revised Common Lectionary readings clearly display an agenda which at many points finds itself at cross-purpose, ironically, with historic, orthodox Christianity! While the question of which lectionary we use (or whether we use a lectionary at all, for that matter) is certainly a matter of Christian freedom, this does not make it an unimportant matter. In choosing a lectionary for use in congregation worship, we should remember we are choosing a teaching, or a "catechetical" tool. A lectionary is to be more than a means to dole out little parcels of Scripture, it provides a framework for most important task the Church has been given by her Lord: proclaiming and teaching the Gospel, so as to make disciples. It is a path toward understanding the purpose and meaning of Holy Scripture and a guide for both pastor and congregation through the whole counsel of God.

Understanding the general history behind the lectionaries is important, especially for pastors called to these tasks of preaching and teaching God's people.

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FW: If You Dismiss The Sacraments, You Lose Lutheranism!




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Thursday, June 13, 2013 8:01 AM
Author: Pastor Matt Richard
Subject: If You Dismiss The Sacraments, You Lose Lutheranism!


1196217_upper_colour_sessionEarly on in my ministry I downplayed the sacraments of baptism and communion. I believed the church growth ideologies that said the sacraments were stumbling blocks to the growth of the church and that if I wanted to be a successful pastor I needed to downplay these supposedly controversial Lutheran teachings. The problem with de-emphasizing the sacraments though, as many Lutheran pastors have done and are tempted to do, is that you may lose Lutheranism. Yes, the sacraments are inseparable from Lutheranism, for they are not secondary doctrines or a matter of adiaphora.  Rather, the sacraments have a primary place in our church's material principle.  Otherwise stated, if they are removed, Lutheranism is lost.  This means it is impossible to have Lutheranism without the sacraments.

In a recent article on the Gospel Coalition, Gene Edward Veith expounds on this topic saying,

"To understand Lutheranism, it is necessary to recognize that the Lutheran understanding of salvation by grace and justification by faith cannot be separated from the Lutheran teachings of baptismal regeneration and the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine of Holy Communion. These teachings are all intimately connected with each other in Lutheran theology and spirituality. If you play them off against each other, thinking you can have Lutheran soteriology without Lutheran sacramental theology, you might have Calvinists or Baptists or Calvinist Baptists or something else, but you cannot have Lutherans. Nor can you have Lutheran Calvinists or Calvinist Lutherans or Lutheran Baptists or Baptist Lutherans." (emphasis added)

My friends may we hold steadfast to God's precious means of grace. May we be soberly aware that if we diminish the sacraments, we will not only diminish the sacramental character of the divine service but lose Lutheranism as well!


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FW: Is Every Christian a Minister?




Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Thursday, June 13, 2013 9:15 AM
Author: Dr. Matthew Phillips
Subject: Is Every Christian a Minister?


EveryoneMinisterThe answer to this question may change depending on one's understanding of minister.  If understood broadly, any Christian may serve others.  However, minister usually means someone whom Lutherans commonly call a pastor today.  Therefore, obviously, every Christian is not a minister or pastor.  In 1530 the first Lutherans understood this well when they confessed, "…no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called." [1] It is possible to further explain the Augsburg Confession through an examination of the contemporary writings of Martin Luther related to this subject.

Early in the Reformation Luther made the biblical distinction between baptized priests and ministers when he wrote:

"For thus it is written I Pet. 2 [:9]: 'You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a priestly royalty.' Therefore we are all priests, as many of us are Christians. But the priests, as we call them, are ministers chosen from among us.  All they do is done in our name; the priesthood is nothing but a ministry.  This we learn from I. Cor. 4 [:1]: 'This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.' "[2]

While Luther delineated between Christians as baptized priests and ministers, he does this to contrast the biblical office of preaching with the corrupt priesthood established through Roman episcopal ordination.  Therefore, he asserted that papal priests had forsaken preaching the Word for praying the canonical hours and offering masses in propitiation for sins.  In other words, he contrasted the Office of the Holy Ministry (Predigtamt, ministerium) with the papal priesthood.  Additionally, Luther argues against the papal bishops' claim that they alone had the authority to ordain pastors.  Thereby, he rejected the Roman sacrament of ordination and the notion that pastors possessed an "indelible character" as a result of their ordination.[3]

Luther's rejection of Roman sacerdotal (priestly) authority did not mean the rejection of the pastoral office.  During the 1520s new groups emerged that rejected the external call of ministers and the sacraments.  Anabaptist preachers began to appear throughout Germany who claimed divine inspiration for their secret preaching.  They also rejected infant baptism and the idea of the Christ's physical presence in the Lord's Supper.  For this reason, in 1530 Lutherans condemned the Anabaptists as they confessed "That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted."[4]

In the early 1530s Luther examined the nature of this ministry and the call of pastors in various writings.  He specifically rejected wandering, secret preachers and affirmed the pastoral office when he stated, "For to the pastor is committed the pulpit, baptism, the sacrament [of the altar], and he is charged with the care of souls."  He then instructed faithful Christians to report these sneaky, uncalled preachers to their pastors.  If these infiltrators did not have a call to preach, then Luther instructed them to be silent because they did not have a call to the pastoral office.[5]

Dr. Luther included a lengthy discussion of the doctrine of the call in his lectures on Galatians in 1531 (published in 1535).  He stated that every minister must be certain that his call is from God.  While Christ called the apostles without means, God continues to call pastors through human means.   In the sixteenth century city officials or princes often called pastors to certain parishes.  (In twentieth-century America, Christian congregations normally call pastors.)  However, this call was no less divine than the apostles' call.  Luther made it clear that even if someone taught true doctrine, if he did not have a proper call, he should be told to stop preaching.  He concluded, "Therefore we who are in the ministry of the Word have this comfort, that we have a heavenly and holy office; being legitimately called to this, we prevail over all the gates of hell."  It was necessary for a minister to boast in his call to glorify God, give him divine confidence in his ministry, and to give assurance to his congregation.  Instead of puffing the pastor up this knowledge should humble him.[6]

If all Christians are not ministers, then how should Christians live?  According to Luther, the universal call is baptism and faith in Christ.  Then, Christians, as baptized priests, serve their neighbors in love through various callings.[7]  Luther purposely contrasted the call to ordinary living in faith to monks whose external works only appeared spiritual.  The world considers self-chosen religious activity as a true service to God.  However, Luther responded that a servant's cooking and housework is a service to God that surpasses monastic holiness.  In the same manner that a pastor serves God through fulfillment of the duties of his call, the servant girl may joyfully serve God through completing her daily tasks.[8]

Luther spoke similarly in numerous sermons and lectures.  While commenting on Galatians 6:4, he referred to a Christian's work as a divine calling whether he or she was a city leader, a servant, a teacher, or a student.  Each person should fulfill his or her duties and not be concerned with others' vocations.[9]  In a Christmas sermon Luther emphasized the deception of external appearances.  Priests, monks, and friars seem holier than people who marry and work ordinary jobs.  In fact, a baptized woman, who believes in Christ and lives ordinarily with her husband and children, is holier before God than a nun who exhibits great outward piety.  Luther encouraged his hearers to demonstrate the fruits of faith in their daily callings.[10]

According to Luther, every Christian is definitely not a minister.  God calls pastors to do certain things because of their office.  All Christians are not called to do those things, namely, preach God's Word publicly or administer the sacraments.  However, every Christian is a baptized priest, who by faith in Christ serves his neighbor in love through his or her divine vocations.  This may be in the form of overt religious activity such as prayer, exhortation, or the comforting Word of the Gospel.  However, taking out the trash also fulfills a vocation when done in faith, and is therefore a divine work too.

[2]  Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther's Works 36: 112-13. [Emphasis added]

[3]  Ibid., 113-116; Norman Nagel, "Luther and the Priesthood of All Believers," CTQ 61 (1997): 284-285, 289.

[4]  Augsburg Confession, art. 5. .  The Latin text refers to the ministerium and the German uses the term, Predigtamt which literally means preaching office. Concordia Triglotta, (St Louis 1921), 44.  The English text is a translation of the Latin version.

[5] Martin Luther, "Infiltrating and Clandestine Preachers," Luther's Works 40: 384-87.   (Quote on p. 384)

[6] Idem, "Lectures on Galatians (1535)," Luther's Works 26: 19-21 (Quote on p. 20). [Emphasis added]

[7] Idem, "Lectures on Genesis," Luther's Works 3: 131.

[8] Idem, "Sermon for Fifteenth Sunday After Trinity," The House Postils, vol. 3, ed. Eugene Klug (Grand Rapids 1996), 10-11.

[9] Idem, "Lectures on Galatians (1535)," Luther's Works 27: 119-120.

[10] Idem, "Third Sermon for the Festival of Christ's Nativity," House Postils 3: 232-233.

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