Monday, December 24, 2012

God With Us

Among the ancient Sunday School materials at one of the parishes I serve, my wife found Northwestern Publishing House's Christmas: A Christmas Eve Service for Children and Congregation (Copyright 1985). The schtick of this particular Christmas program is that the kids are going to spell Christmas letter by letter - C is for "Come to Me," etc. The program has a bit of a surprise ending:

"Narrator: As we put up the last letter "T," our word Christmas is complete. The name Christ stands out, doesn't it? That's how it should be. We can do without the M-A-S part of Christmas and not miss a thing."

The mind boggles.

A very blessed Christmas to you and yours as you receive Him where He has promised to be there for you: the Mas(s).

+HRC

34 comments:

  1. "Come to the WELS for new life and the living water . . ." just don't expect The Sacrament on Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, you'll find the same steam of theology in Missouri as well. . . alas.

      Delete
    2. Haha, I agree with both comments, although, coming from the WELS to Missouri I've noticed that most LCMS parishes in the Midwest are much more liturgical than most WELS parishes in the Midwest. Simply put, if you're looking for the Christian/Catholic/Lutheran liturgy, check out the LCMS parish first.

      Delete
    3. I was only three then, so I would like to put on record that I do not remember and did not participate in this service, though I highly suspect I was there, since I'm sure my home church would have done it, since it has a parochial school.

      Delete
  2. I did laugh now, because I've recently left the WELS (NPH), but even after my quick laugh it's followed by sorrow. Even though it was put out in 1985 it is still present today: the Mass is only once a month -- if that -- in most parishes. I wish those in the WELS could experience the incarnation of the flesh in the Sacrament as some of us, on a regular basis, do in the LCMS and abroad (ELDoNa, etc.
    ).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought most WELS parishes were up to twice a month.

      Delete
  3. I'd like to estimate, and again this is just my estimation, that yes, they're between twice to once a month -- every Sunday Eucharist is far and few between. I think, again just my estimation, that the "CoWo" churches are about once a month (if that). In fact in a recent Lutheran free conference (at Martin Luther College [WELS] 2012) the WELS presenter on Worship and Outreach (Schroeder) stated that he doesn't offer the Sacrament when he knows visitors are coming -- for fear that they'd be turned off. As a side note, I loved Pr. Weedon's response to the WELS presenter's paper. Please watch, search free conference and go to the last presentations: (http://mlc-wels.edu/media/mlc-tv). If the WELS presenter's paper reflects the WELS view of the Sacrament, which I'm more than confident it does, then the Sacrament (Gospel) is a stumbling block to the elect. That's a major problem to me. Anyhoo...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Years ago, when communion twice a month was fairly common every where, I spent some time with the WELS in a small city. There were St. Luke's (WELS), Trinity (WELS), St. Mark's (WELS), and St. John's (WELS formerly LCMS), Immanual (ELCA), 2 catholic churches, and 1 very small Baptist and Episcopal church. Our little group of WELS students were able to attend communion every Sunday by which church we went to, on which Sunday, at which service. It was easy to do.

    But, one must be in a Lutheran haven to be able to do that kind of thing, at that time. St. Mark's and Trinity stood out for the beauty of their worship spaces. While I was there, St. John's scraped out their baroque, high-pile of carved images altar and replaced it with "the old rugged cross and a tea table." As I left through the parish offices, I saw that many of the carved figures had been saved as single pieces to be hung on the walls. I looked at the Church secretary and sighed, "It will take this church ten of thousands of dollars to replace that altar, and believe me, some day you will. This was a very bad decision." I think they were still LCMS then. "Alles ist nicht in ordnung." I used to have nightmares that I went back and found the art gutted from St. Mark's too. (Not yet, but is any art safe around wobbly Lutherans?)

    But your former WELS writers are correct, there was very little sense of the mystery of the sacraments in WELS. I used to explain it this way, it was a church group with a Lutheran brain and a Calvinist heart.

    One of my WELS friends from those days says he left them after a conference of pastors where they served the communion wine in plastic sherry cups. They had a trash can set up with a white board backing so that each communicant could toss his, mostly empty, little plastic cup into the waste basked as he left the altar. Many used the white backing as a board to bounce the plastic off of and by the time my friend went through, the boards were thoroughly splattered with communion wine. He felt like the only person there that felt hurt and offended at the casual and disrespectful misuse of the elements that were not received.

    We know that there is a limit to the sacraficial union, never-the-less, we honor those left over elements that for a time carried the body and blood of Christ, in the same way Christians honored the healing of Peter's shadow, and the kerchiefs that Paul sent to heal far away believers. We honor it with a proper disposal. We do not pour unused, consecrated elements down the toilet and into the city sewage system, and we don't make collages out of it by slinging it into trash baskets. It was a last straw for my friend.

    When the sacrament is over, and elements are left over, the sacramental union dissapates if there is no intention at this supper to receive them. Lutherans have a long history of the precious and proper usages that formerly consecrated elements may be fulfilled and completed. And, you can never get all the wine out of those plastic throw-aways without a cloth or paper towels. Then how do you discard of the cloth or the paper towels?

    As Cicero said at the ending of each of his discources with the Roman Senate, the plastic cups must be destroyed. Using them expresses distain for the elements not received.

    My personal preferrence is that all the bread and all the wine consecrated but not to be consumed in this sacrament should be consumed by the pastor and the elders by dringing and eating, so that there is not a problem of once consecrated but unreceived elements.

    There are other respectful and honorific ways to treat an object that once carried the true body and the true blood of God. Check them out for yourself, but slinging them agains a back-board making a mural of purple rain drops is not on the list, trust me on this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your piety. Also, the parishes you mentioned, are they located in Watertown, WI?

      Delete
    2. Yes, that's Watertown. I've never been in St. John's, but I had heard of the iconoclasm that happened there. I have been in St. Mark's (WLS choir singing there) and Trinity (my aunt got married there when I was a little boy).

      Delete
    3. Brian,

      Now tell us, aren't they lovely church interiors, both St. Mark's and Trinity, with the most prominent symbol being the crucifide Christ.

      I maintain that both the congregation and the pastor must be facing a very prominent crucifix during the sermon, to remind us constantly that "we preach Christ crucified." They have such an arrangement at the Thomaskirche in Leipsig that you can see on many of the musical/video recordings made there. Normally this would require two large crucifixes as at St. Thomas. However, Cranach manages it by painting a crucifix between Luther and his congregation, to which they all (but one) look toward, and Luther points to.

      Delete
    4. St. Mark's is quite gorgeous indeed. It is very reminiscent of St. John's Milwaukee (where the Synodical Conference was formed). This is probably because Johannes Bading (also president of Wisconsin Synod, and responsible, with Adolf Hoenecke, for rescuing it from Muehlhaeuser's weak Lutheranism) was pastor of both parishes.

      I was a little kid when my aunt got married at Trinity; I only remember the crucifix because of wedding pictures.

      Delete
  5. The Sacrament of the Altar is a family affair. It is proper not to offer it when you are expecting a particular service to attract many non-family members. (children's programs, weddings, and funerals, etc.)

    You would schedule the children's Christmas program for Christmas Eve at 7:00 pm with no communion. Then you schedule the Christms Eve service at 10 or 11 pm with communion. Don't lay a table of the gifts if you are not allowing many to eat. Control your circumstances to favor the applications of your doctrines.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "We can do without the M-A-S part of Christmas and not miss a thing." -- NPH

    You may, however, be missing a screw. If you insist on an unrestrained bellowing of "Merry Christ" to those passing by with the bundles, your fellow men may think you're simply purveying Richard Hook prints.

    "[I]n a recent Lutheran free conference (at Martin Luther College [WELS]; 2012) the WELS presenter on Worship and Outreach (Schroeder) stated that he doesn't offer the Sacrament when he knows visitors are coming -- for fear that they'd be turned off."

    Egad. I propose that from henceforth, all WELS presentations to these Lutheran "free conferences" be confined and placed in their own separate category, viz., "Worship and Outrage."

    A most Merry Christmas to the Gottesdienst Crowd!

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

    ReplyDelete
  7. at the line "Richard Hook prints" all (the full glass of a fairly decent Cabernet! Herr Doktor..... :( ) my drink went shooting out my nose onto the monitor. ah well... with boughs of holly, figgy pudding, a one-horse open sleigh, chestnuts roasting, and oh... the True and Real BODY and BLOOD of the God/Man - - I give you remission for your dangerous wit Herr Doktor - - write on write on in ministry
    your obd servant,
    frJ

    ReplyDelete
  8. See, this is precisely what I like about dear Fr. Watson. Not only is he a blogger-supremo, but he lets his mouth show forth His praise, unceasingly; and his nose show forth his java, intermittedly.

    Quite seriously, while wishing to not appear as being too much of a spoiler, I do think the free conference results raise a profound diificulty and a scandal. Briefly put, the WELS' representative has a different Jesus than mine. My Jesus does not shy from "turning others off," and thank God He did not. In John 6, His Word causes those hearing to declare He is too hard to understand, given over again and again to those "hard sayings," according to the erstwhile summer-patriots. My Jesus feeds and feeds and feeds, and tells the likes of Peter and Watson to do so, too; and in blessed Matthew's Gospel, moreover, He breathes a dictum touching on both Word (teaching) and Sacrament (baptism) in one breath. "Do this, Mr. WELS, "in remembrance of Me" ... and don't place your principle, focused attention on those in the nave. You give Me youir attention, for a little hour. Am I asking of you, too much?

    The task of standing naked in the baptistry, waiting to encounter water and the Spirit, might have turned off many a citizen of Rome, in the old days of the Church. The Church continued faithfully to follow its Bridegroom's instructions, nonetheless, no matter how much the catechumens' wavered in the coldness, the darkness, the mind's hesitation and maybe, a temporary offense.

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor, SSP

    ReplyDelete
  9. Which reminds me of the Greek Othodox baptism scene in "My big fat Greek Wedding." We see the adult (formerly presbyterian) soon to be husband, sitting naked in the large baptism stand. However, besides water, it is obvious he has also been rubbed all over with holy olive oil. That part, the oil rubbing of a naked adult male, is not shown happening, only as have happened. Such prudery; I was really waiting for that scene.

    PS. You clergy do send your catecumens out of the church at the beginning of the "Service of the (Altar, Mystery, Sacrament) don't you? If you don't even allow the catecuminate to witness the mystery, why on earth would you let strangers watch it? (Tas Thyras, tas thyras; Ita, dismissus est!) Go, you are dismissed and ushers, shut the doors and guard them. The family is coming together to eat the mysterious gift of Jesus, our God.

    PSS. There is a progression of prudery that can be measured and followed in early Christian art where we start with a clearly, genitals and all, image of Jesus being baptised by John in the Jordan, then a few hundred year latter, to Jesus in his long johns getting baptised.

    Now, I can understand the male nudity at baptism, even outside, BUT, female nudity was a very big deal in that society. Only the husband ever saw his wife's hair down, let alone any other part if her. They were all of them, all the time extremely prudish about female nudity. How did they work that out, naked women at baptism?

    ReplyDelete
  10. "...female nudity was a very big deal in that society..."

    Indeed. Here the early Christians were not particularly exceptional in their attitudes. A terracotte relief once adorning a tomb from Ostia, dating to the 2nd century A.D., shows the midwife Scribonia Attice in the midst of a delivery. The laboring woman ("being great with child," even to the shrink's eye) grips the handles of the birthing chair, on which she is seated, and is captured for all time mouthing what is a decidely rounded, if not pained, exhalation. She is tightly gripped and restrained from behind, by the midwife's able assistant. Scribonia, whose husband was the distinguished surgeon-physician M. Ulpius Amerimnus, is wearing a simple "scrub" tunic which exposes her lower arms, and sits professionally on a low stool in front of her patient. Most significantly, her face is conspiculously turned away from the action. It's all by feel.

    This postural deference, for modesty's sake, closely adheres to the advice of one Soranus: an Ephesian by birth, a practitioner in Rome during the days of Trajan and Hadrian, and simply was one of the greatest and most humane physicians of his era (and who, like Galen, had rejected the Hippocratic doctrine of the "wandering uterus," as the underlying cause for hysteria). Soranus writes in his textbook, Gynecology, that "The midwife should be aware of fixing her gaze steadfastly on the genitals of the laboring woman, lest being ashamed, her body become contracted."

    To the best of my knowledge, however, the barked, ubiquitous command for "deep cleansing breaths, dear" is not explicitly rendered by Soranus, in the text.

    The observant doc did fix the the first onset of menstruation, and the "proper" marriageable age, as typically occurring somewhere around the fourteen year mark (Gynecology, I:33). One wonders if Soranus' authority influenced any patristic speculations as to the Mother of God's years on earth, when she set out for Bethlehem to be imperially taxed with St. Joseph, "a just man."

    Your (unworthy) servant,
    Herr Doktor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Herr Doktor,
      Sounds like you've either enjoyed a visit or would enjoy a visit to the History of Medicine collection at the National Library of Medicine. I took a quick tour once. It's huge. It's in a separate, temperature/humidity controlled room, I think on the 1st floor.

      Delete
  11. Baptism in the church was a public, if gymnostic, event, ab ovo. After a loud and rousing sermon, the Holy Spirit would fall upon whole crowds of people who would then come forward to be baptised. So, if someone were to insist to me that Babtism has a missional function in the church, I would agree that I have found it so several times in the Bible and many times throughout the Christian Era.

    Kings and Ducs (Margrafen) have whole crowds baptised together by spraying hundreds of them with streams of water at one event. In a small baptistry such as those exquisite little buildings in Ravenna, baptism could also be a small family affair by invitation only, but nothing requires that, and most Lutherans have moved their tiny and very simple baptism bowl-stands up to the solea, and start the day's service off with any pending baptisms. And the infants are only naked under several layers of clothing and blankets. The younger children are often invited up to get a closer look and to focus them on their own baptism only a few years previous. And, the whole congregation, not just the God Parents, is asked to take part in the religious raising of this/these child/children.

    On the other hand, if you were to suggest to me that you also thought that the Sacrament of the Altar were also a missional function of the church, I would have to say, "No, it is a sactification (faith building and maintaining, and good works energy) function of the people who are the true family of God in this place. Those being catechized and strangers should be asked to leave in a way that it is not obvious, and that is loving and very polite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hate to use the word "private" with communion because of the dastardly thing the Roman church made up called "private communion" and that Luther rails against more than several time. Did you know that St. Mary's church in Wittenberg, when Luther got there, had 19 altars in it. Granted, from examples in the Doms at Magdeburg and Halberstadt, they were tiny little things mostly, these were used by 1 priest alone to pay an obligation to say a mass for money received from a family of a dearly departed to get them so many 100 thousand years off from purgatory. So, I won't use the word private, and especially in that way unless, like Luther, I mean to rail againt them.

      I do like Luther's suggestion that at the hugh Doms that the art works, altar pieces, associated with all the extra altars should be saved and tacked to the bare walls along the side of the nave or ambulatories. I've actually see pictures of a Lutheran church that did that with what look to be railroad spikes banged into the stone walls and altar pieces supported by them down the whole sides of the nave. The altar pieces are lovely art, but the rusted railroad spikes are a bit off putting.

      And, all of this is just to say, when the family comes together back in the sanctuary/choir for the church's celebration of the Lord's Supper, only the family is present, and it is not, I say NOT, a missional function of the church. It is not a private meal in the same way that dinner in your home is a private meal, but much of the etiquette is the same.

      If you are visiting, and it's getting close to dinner time and you see a look of anxiety on you hostess face, you know it's time to go. It's not polite to invite yourself to someone else's dinner. "Well, we have to go now, I'm taking Madge out to the new Olive Garden for dinner. It was a lovely visit seeing you again. Bye."

      No rule of etiquette insists that you must invite strangers or even neighbors, and especially scrounging relatives to stay and have (unplanned) dinner with you. You might be serving leftover night, and it would embarrass you to have company that night. Think about how cruel Jesus was to the 5 toerrichter maedchen who ran out of oil. "Can we come in late? NO!"

      Delete
    2. Jesus has no trouble with saying NO in social situations and doctrinal situations. You show up at the wedding feast and you don't wear the wedding garments, out you go (into bitter darkness).

      We are sissys, a popular word on another blog just now, when we feel obligation to ask everyone present to come eat with us, when the crowd is full of strangers who may have no idea that you serve the true body and the true blood of Christ. They very likey are too skitish to fool around with stuff that powerful, and if they know their Bible, they know you make have just invited them to spiritual dammage and condemtaion from God for not decerning his Body and his Blood at your altar.

      Now, the sign that a church is serving the true body and the true blood of Christ at their altar, is the proment crucifices that a visible everywhere in your church. Each one says, and especialy the one on or over the altar, we serve real body and real blood here, just like you see on these cruesome crucifices as you look aroud our house of worship.

      Dismiss the strangers and non-participants, send the catechism class to class, bring the remaining congregation forward into the choir/sanctuary, and continue the service behind the beautiful altar of the word, and begin the Service of the Sacrament. There are so many physical things you can do to minimize the awareness of the strangers that the service is going to contine after they leave. You're just taking a 10 minute rearrangement break, but the strangers think it over and time to leave, and you can stand at the door shaking their hands and wishing to see them again.

      Again, all this verbiage just to maintain that the Lord's Supper, the one with the curse attached to it, is NOT, let me repeat NOT a missional function of the church. It is fine if your new members never even know about it till you show/teach them from scripture.

      Delete
    3. "It is fine if your new members never even know about it till you show/teach them from scripture."

      Ahem. I'm not sure which is more peculiar; the advisory that the divine mandatum to "do this" should not be done, because of a possible offense to the visitor of a church; or, the wink-wink that's "it's fine" to withold knowledge from the newbie member of the Church.

      The Church purposefully catechizes its lambs towards the Supper's benefits, do we not? Shouldn't the baptized come to be made joyously aware of the blessed circumstance which God has devised, in which Heaven breaks into time and space, even into our often dreary wilderness of existence? And as soon as possible, to stimulate a hunger for the food of angels?

      Yes, yes, close the doors, if the Church sees such represtination as something meet, right and necessary; but by all means, let the simple-hearted know what glories are occurring behind those doors. It's a communing with our risen Lord! Isn't that a basis for a solidly evangelical, missional and educational thrust: "We banquet with our dear Redeemer-Creator, who forgives and lifts and sustains us for our weekly servantly tasks. Come and see (but expect to learn a good deal more about this Mystery, before experiencing it)."

      Delete
  12. I see, I should not have said new member. If you're a member, you're a member. I meant those people who are investigating membership by entering into the church's initiation of learning and I think that is the same as what most catechism students were. Adults, not yet well known, who are not yet trusted with the mysteries, and maybe not even baptised yet, but which would happen before the mystery of the Lord's body and blood.

    We're all aware that the Eastern Orthodox must commune their baby for the 3 Sundays following its baptism. I've seen it done many times and they have no strategic problems with it. The babies don't choke because very little bread, soaked in wine is placed in their mouth with the pretty golden spoon.

    And, we've had at least a dozen discussions about which is the proper age, maturation, brain development that is best for Lutheran children to take first communion. I'm just following the average practice.

    Now, in terms of repristinating the danger to Christianity that existed before 313, yeah, I'm watching us walk backwards into paganism and the time of the Evil One, just like you and all of us are. We seem safe now, but perhaps we better get more acquainted with how we functioned in hiding from those who would kill us. The times here, now have not been so near those of the Roman Empire since 313.

    I do understand the social need to feed people at big food celebratons. Church fish suppers, Jambalaya Pots big as hogs. Politicians hollar, ya'll come on in and get something to eat. We know that the Archlitrikinos at the wedding at Cana was almost greatly embarrassed by running out of plenty. Jesus helped him secretly. Jesus fed crowds with fish and bread. Mange, phagetai, eat up! But, I don't get that with the mystical eating of his body and his blood. In fact when he says something like that publically, about half his following left him because that was just too strange.

    Did Jesus care? ...like the WELS president who wanted to avoid discomfort? No, because they must eat his body and his blood. Still, when he instituted His meal, he did so by invitation only behind closed doors. This is not a boy's bread and fish, nor wine for a wedding party. This was the whole enchelata and those who recognize Jesus body and blood in the mystery are encouraged to come and eat often, just not at the mall or a footfall game. But as His family eats, here in this place, undistracted from recognizing the body and the blood.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lol n Troll Network with the Name of Lols Gag where you can find Videos, Gif Images, Troll Images, Prank Peoples, Funny Peoples, funny planet, funny facts, funny cartoons, funny movies pics, iphone funny, funny jokes, Prank Images, Fail Pictures, Epic Pictures, Lols and Gags.
    LolsGag.Blogspot.Com

    ReplyDelete
  18. Latest Automotive Information with Pictures, latest speedy cars, top vehicles
    TopAmazingCars.BlogSpot.Com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Female Celebrties Facebook Covers, Most Popular Fb Covers in the Industry
    UniqueFbCovers.Com

    ReplyDelete
  20. For the lovers of art be it oil paintings, acrylics, water paints, abstracts, still life or just swirls of your imagination on the canvas. Find more art at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgWYZyShA3c

    ReplyDelete
  21. Home Based Business Join Now without any Work
    Earn 400% within a Month
    Payout within 24 Hours with Perfect Money, OkPay and EgoPay
    Join Now
    Dollar-Inv.co

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated. Neither spam, vulgarity, comments that are insulting, slanderous or otherwise unbefitting of Christian dignity nor anonymous posts will be published.