Monday, May 3, 2010

To do list

It'd be nice if the Churches of the Augsburg Confession in this land would return to the organizational life advocated by our Confessions - namely, evangelical bishops who would teach the parish pastors and make ordinances regarding ceremonies and church practice to insure peace in the church, reverence in worship, and common confession.

But while we're waiting for the current bureaucracies of the current synods to finally crumble, faithful Lutheran ministers need to support one another in living up to our Confession. Here's my short list of what we should be working toward and helping each other achieve. It is modest, yet in many places will be quite a climb. I put it down with the new crop of ordinands especially in mind. What would you add, subtract, or edit on this list?

* Communion offered every Lord's Day and on the other feasts of the year.

* A reverent celebration of the Lutheran Divine Service as contained in the jurisdiction's agenda. See Ap. XXIV.1 for a short list of what a "reverent celebration" will include. In today's Lutheranism, I think teaching the Real Presence with a genuflection after each consecration to be an important ceremony to recover.

* The use of one of the jurisdiction's approved lectionaries and calendars - I believe that the lectionary used by Luther and the other Lutheran fathers - corresponding, more or less, to LSB's One Year Lectionary - has the most the recommend it among the options.

* Re-introducing the Common Service, at least as one among other orders used, in places where it has fallen into disuse.



  1. Good list. I'd include early, early on, a study of the Augsburg Confession during the regular Sunday a.m. Adult Bible Class, aimed at showing how each and every part of it is founded in the Sacred Scriptures.

  2. So, why the emphasis upon the Genuflection, of all the various liturgical motions? Is there much history over this? I recall Luther discussing the elevation - why genuflection, especially when I'm guessing that this is a less common practice over on this side of the pond.

  3. Historically-speaking, I seriously doubt Lutheran churches ever had the evangelical bishops of which you speak. However, I do think DPs in LCMS should be called pastors.

    I'd go for any church having at the very least a simple, traditional liturgy.

    Genuflection would be fine with me, but reverent hearing of the Words of Institution and reception would be just fine with me also.

    As an historian, I'd like to use the one-year lectionary, but I'm fine with the three year series. (Just don't do a topical series...)

    I wholeheartedly endorse Pr Weedon's idea too. I would add a few history lessons to supplement the study of the Augsburg Confession.

  4. Mr. Flacius,

    Latvia, Kenya, and the mission provinces of Finland and Sweden have evangelical bishops right now - and have for the entire history of their churches (the larger portion of Sweden and Finland has gone corrupt in a big way, but the mission provinces are rightly and fairly seen as the continuation of the Lutheran church). The Visitors of the Saxon Visitation Articles fame also fit the bill.

    The genuflection is so important in our context because of the sad history of receptionism in North American Lutheranism. Genuflecting after each consecration is a confession of the the power of Jesus' word to effect the Real Presence. It's something a receptionist could never do.


  5. The subject of weekly communion was raised at our last Council meeting. It was met with more resistance than I expected, the most common complaints being, "It'll make it seem too common; it'll get old" and, "People don't want feel obliged to receive Communion every week" (we currently have communion every other week). It was one of those moments when I've wondered if people are listening to what's coming out of their mouths. How does one respond to that?

  6. Happy Fox,

    This is not a new opinion re. frequent Communion; it has been among us for more than 50 years.

    Shortly after my confirmation, my mother told me that receiving the Sacrament every time it was celebrated would mean that it would no longer be something "special."

    The only way to respond to these sentiments is by teaching the Confessions, and how Communion (is to be) offered every Lord's Day and on the other feasts of the year.

    It may be a slow process; but "Slow and steady wins the race."

  7. Happy Fox,

    When I took my board of elders and congregation toward weekly communion I stressed the pastoral care angle. What about people who work shift work and might only get to come to church every three or four weeks? If that week they hit is a non-communion Sunday, they've got to wait a long time. What about somebody who's been sick and is back for the first time in a long time? Shouldn't they know they can come and receive communion?

    And this: when you don't offer communion you are denying it to somebody who wants to receive it. When you offer it, you are not forcing anybody to communue.

    Those items objectively diffuse the kind of concerns you mentioned - but people are not always so objective. Sometimes, people put forward what they think will be a good-sounding argument to hide their real opposition. The real opposition to weekly communion is, in my experience, a concern about the length of the service.

    Here's how I went about that. First, I made sure that non-communion services started being just as long if not longer that communion services. Second, I worked with my ushers to ensure a reverent but efficient manner of getting folks to the Table. Once people see that, barring a crazy big attendance like Confirmation day, the service will always be over in 70 minutes or so, things go much more smoothly.


  8. I would also desire an added emphasis on Sunday being a day of Holy Convocation, a Sabbath, a Rest to the Lord. Not just another day for meetings, practices, competitions, and boy scouts. Of course, this speaks to the whole day and not just the worship. Imagine the people coming to worship believing that this morning would innagurate a day where they pray, meditate, speak, and act all according to what they recieve from the Lord's hand, and that nothing will interfere because this day is set aside for the Lord. What would that be adnd look like?

  9. As usual, Padre Curtis has gotten a good and relevant discussion rolling.

    I find his list to be concise enough so as not to be "pie in the sky" - and yet even these simple suggestions can result in a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. I like the Weedon Amendment to teach the Augsburg Confession as the focal point of the BOC - which is indeed what defines us as Lutheran (not Martin Luther, not red doors, not refusing to cross ourselves, etc.).

    As for genuflecting goes, it is the ultimate expression of reverence. It provides a pause, time to worship, and it is a confession to Christians, and from Christians to the world. It acknowledges Christology (Jesus is here), Theology (God is present) and anthropology (we are God's creatures, not the other way around). It lives out Phil 2:10.

    In the 1960s, churches ripped out kneelers, tore out reminders of the incarnation (such as statues and paintings), and made the liturgy more "folksy" (passing the peace, "and also with you," lay readers, etc.). We do a lot less kneeling and being quiet and a lot more yucking it up these days.

    I think all of these things have had the unintended consequence of making the holy profane, of turning the sacred into the common. It has gotten to the point today where, in some of our churches, a pastor genuflecting (the most natural thing to do at the altar in the very presence of the Lord in His miraculous meal) as something "weird."

    To me, just standing there and rushing through the verba would be weird. Soldiers salute their general, subjects bow to their sovereign. Not genuflecting ought to feel weird to the celebrant.

    Our words say: "Here is a miracle, a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in the flesh, breaking into space and time and giving you eternal life," while our actions say: "ho hum, let's get this ritual out of the way so we don't miss the kick off."

    We desperately need a return to reverence. And reverence takes time. The hue and cry to keep the sermon down to three minutes, the Mass under an hour, and abbreviating the hymn stanzas are all indicative of the increasingly low priority the Christian faith has in this culture - even among Christians.

    We have more important things to do.

    Three hours for a football game is no problem. Waiting an hour to ride a roller coaster is no problem. Standing for the national anthem is no problem. Blowing candles off a cake is no problem. But if the pastor reverently genuflects before His Lord who is miraculously present, all of the sudden, this is a problem.

    *That* is the problem.

    Our Achilles Heel is the lack of any authority in our churches. We jealously guard our Christian liberty, it seems, so that we can abuse it by routinely ignoring and breaking our own confessions (AC 24 and Ap 24 just for starters). Once our congregations became "autonomous" and once the liturgy (which we vow to hold onto in our confessions) became an adiaphoron, just one option among many - and not a very entertaining one at that - I think we created a situation that can't be fixed: the proverbial "how to get the toothpaste back in the tube" problem.

    I think we need an "amicable divorce" in the LCMS as was proposed by Prof. Marquart.

  10. Um...I hate commenting on this, because, as most of you know, I'm not really jiggy with the entire point. In fact, I'm teaching the exact opposite, and it is going fairly well with this, thank you very much.

    But if you can pretend as if I were one of you--really, the one year lectionary? I don't get this. Why not read Scripture from as many places as possible?

    I'm not stating this as a criticism or critique--I mean, serious, would any of yuo take that seriously? I doubt it...--I'm just asking for info. Why?

    By the way, when we were getting ready to get the funk on with our Contemporary worship service, we said Yeah, we need communion every Sunday.

    Cause we're Lutheran. ;)

  11. Dea Mqll:

    "As most of you know..."

    I have no idea who you are. But I know you need to being some cash to Vanna pronto, because I have no idea how to pronounce "Mqll."

    Either that, or you're saving ink by not using vowels Hebrew style. :-)

  12. Fr. Louderback,

    I preach on the historic lectionary because:

    * I have access to Luther, Augustine, Gerhardt and any number of other preachers to learn from on this lectionary.

    * I believe my people will actually learn more of the Word of God by knowing a given set of pericopes very well due to repetition rather than a greater number of pericopes with less repetition of each.

    * The historic lectionary is approved of in our symbols (Ap. XXIV).

    * One begins to get into a rhythm - the people learn that you veil the statues on Judica after you say, "And Jesus went out and hid himself." They start to look forward to Misericordia Domini and hearing John 10. The summer time always brings the destruction of Jerusalem on Trinity X (around the historic date of that happening in August). Now quick - what's the Gospel lesson for Pentecost 19 in year B?

    * The historic lectionary teaches me that I can always find something more in each text. I'll never wear it out or exhaust it.


  13. A few quick notes:

    1. Kneeling history. Actually, kneeling went out of vogue long before the 1960s. If you look at the plains churches formed around 1900, you will hardly be able to find a kneeler. Part of this is that the American Anti-Roman Catholic attitude has crept into the American Church. . . the attitude that is opposed to Rome not for how she corrupts the Church but because she is. . . Rome. While genuflection would sort of teach against receptionism, it will seem really foreign in a lot of congregations, especially ones like mine where there is no history of kneeling anywhere associated with the Supper (no rail, even).

    2 - The 1 Year Lectionary - It is easier to preach on, in my estimation, and it flows better with the Church Year. The 3 Year attempts to give people more scripture - the 1 year aims to lead people through that which is taught in the Scriptures in a very thought out way - a way that a lectio continuio isn't going to be able to do. I see this more and more every year going through the 1 year.

    3 - I always get torn in these discussions. On the one hand I find that we have gotten away from the Christian art of Submission. We are to submit ourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ - it is important and vital to Christians to have this attitude, lest we make ourselves lords. The first sin was a lack of submission, and many sins after it flow from that same attitude. (Note: I love funk, but it's not my job to make Church into what I myself love -- that's being a lord or tyrant instead of a steward -- and a tyrant is still a tyrant even if the people love him). But on the other hand - Fr. Curtis - when I see your lists, even when it gets to one as pared down as this, there ends up being something that rubs me the wrong way. I don't know - it's too specific in the rubrics. . . and I think perhaps this is simply because I see too much regional diversity in the US. Think of the various orders in little Germany -- now consider the US. It seems odd to think that specific rubrics to the detail you wish would be the same through a nation that is highly diverse with different customs. I think you sometimes are trying to take a regional ideal from Germany and apply it to a continent and over 6000 congregations. I think it is enough that I at least recognize what is going on when I walk into another Church.

    And some of it is I might just be a bit more low Church than you are - and I wonder if High Church is really the true mark of reverence. That's it - I'm low church reverent. But then again - submission is good. . . but why submit to this?

  14. Fr. Brown,

    What's too specific in the rubrics? A *suggestion* that genuflecting is helpful in combating receptionism?

    I think you're seeking a conflict with someone who has not shown up at the conflict.

    High church and low church are Anglican terms and I don't think they translate well into Lutheranism. I mean - do you wear a Geneva gown and only have low mass with no organ? What does "low church reverent" mean?

    Just be reverent. Follow an approved Divine Service from the jurisdiction you are under. And if you want my advice on how to combat receptionism and teach the people against it: genuflect.


  15. Fr. Curtis,

    Ah - you didn't have the genuflection listed as a suggestion - there is the list of what that will include - and then genuflection. Hence I read that as a "shall" rather than a "may".

    Low Church Reverent -- hmmm, as I used the phrase I should be able to quickly define it. You make a good point about appropriating an Anglican term -- let me coin a different one. How about "Simple Reverent" - a service that tends to follow the simpler rubric. Now, a lot of this is influenced by where I am at and that I don't have access to assistants often (although I did make Jay be a Gospel bearer for a procession the previous two Easters. . . and I'll probably do so next year when he's not on vicarage).

    Of course - I'd also say if you want to combat receptionism preach on the power of the Word of God and our own person inability to manipulate God by our own piety. =o)

  16. Dear Eric:

    You write:

    "While genuflection would sort of teach against receptionism, it will seem really foreign in a lot of congregations, especially ones like mine where there is no history of kneeling anywhere associated with the Supper (no rail, even)."

    There are a lot of things that would have "seemed foreign" in Lutheranism not that long ago (and still are in some places): the pastor wearing an alb (or even a clerical collar), the pastor and the people making the sign of the cross, the crucifix, chanting, private confession, every Sunday communion, etc.

    In other words: Lutheranism, as confessed by Lutheran practice, has become foreign in Lutheran churches.

    It's our job to teach, not to avoid being Lutheran because it has become "foreign." Shame on our forbears who, ever so eager to conform (see 1 Sam 8:4), traded our catholic sacramental heritage for Protestant Reformed/Anabaptist practices that are at odds with what we claim to believe on paper.

    Piepkorn wrote that when he studied for the Holy Ministry, men were not even required to read the Book of Concord! We're still recovering from such anti-confessionalism - even in the LCMS today. I have actually heard pastors brag that their books of Concord have not been opened since seminary graduation. It's a scandal, and our people are suffering spiritually for it.

    Not kneeling before the Holy Sacrament is what the Reformed and Baptists do as a fitting confession of what they believe is on the altar. Imitating their practice teaches the people that same theology. Actions do indeed speak louder than words, "lex orandi" and all that...

    And kneeling is indeed part of our heritage. Our heritage is not limited to 20th century America, nor even 500 years of Lutheranism. Luther was scandalized by even the thought of someone not genuflecting during "and was made man" in the creed. This isn't some crazy alien practice. It is simple western liturgical Christianity.

    Obviously, pastoral sensitivity and care must be taken in ceremonial. But at the same time, our people are so surrounded by Protestant theology and practice that we really have an obligation to use every means we have to teach the faith - which the AC (24:3) considers the chief reason for ceremonies.

    Any and every attempt to suggest a unified front in our collective teaching through ceremony inevitably breaks down based on an appeal to adiaphora, Christian liberty, and diversity. And sadly, those who will not bend the knee only serve to make it more difficult for us who are trying to teach using this simple ceremonial that is allowed to become a "division."

    Refusing to kneel before Jesus has become a virtue to be defended, and the suggestion that our pastors voluntarily doing this across the board would reverently confess the Real Presence of our blessed Lord is met with resistance.

    I really don't get it.

    But you are certainly free to do whatever you want at the altar. But I don't accept the notion that genuflecting and not genuflecting are equal. One confesses by its action against what the other, by its absence, may be inferred. Kneeling leaves no doubt what one confesses on the altar.

    Kneeling may be awkward and embarrassing, but we should confess with St. Paul in Romans 1:16.

  17. Dear Larry,

    Kneeling is fine. I think it is an excellent practice. However, most of my comments were from the assumption (apparently misguided) that it be mandated. . . a "shall" rather than a "may". In practical terms of trying to insure "peace in the church, reverence in worship, and common confession" having that be a "shall" would be counter productive. That was the extent of my point.

    Yes, we have 2000 years of history. I think much of the task of our generation (and probably the next) will be reincorporating our congregations into that tradition. However, we also have the last 150 years of "tradition" as well, and those years and the problems they present need to be reckoned with as well - and in different places that will take more time, and the introduction of specific ceremonies could be unduly disruptive.

  18. This discussion always tends to generate debate when it moves toward toward real physical ways to confess the real presence.

    As for me, I think Dr. Stephenson's comment on the matter of genuflection is still the best: "You would stand before the Incarnate One?"

  19. Indeed. I want to be like Dr. Stephenson when (if?) I grow up. They just don't make them like that any more.

  20. Dear Brethren:

    Should one who has physical difficulty kneeling replace the action with a bow? I ask this in all seriousness, as this is my current plight. I would like eventually to genuflect at the consecration, but may not be able.

  21. Fr. Reeder,

    Indeed, Piepkorn mentions the "deep bow" as an alternative to the genuflection.


  22. I would humbly suggest the following:

    - An increase in the emphasis and/or encouragement, education, and, in some cases, a re-introduction, of private confession and absolution.

    - The actual teaching of the how to and the importance of a daily prayer life. Laity, seminarians, and pastors included. Do not get me wrong, there are many fine prayer books out there. (As I type this, there are five different books within my reach.) Books are nice, but fairly worthless if no one is there to teach a person how to correctly use one of them.

    - Actually having the office of deacon would be an improvement.

  23. Father BFE -

    (sarcasm mode on) Of course I'd stand before Him - I'd shake His hand, slap Him on the back - He's my bud!(/sarcasm)

    My thoughts are that in some places we must take care with the (re)introduction of ritual and reverence. In many places it has fallen away, and unless the ideas of ritual and reference are introduced first, the ritual may be rejected in a knee-jerk fashion. I think reintroducing the bow makes a lot of sense for a lot of places -- in American culture, we don't kneel, but we still understand the bow. . . even if the nod of the head is more common.

  24. Father Hollywood,

    I have no idea who you are.

    Ah! Yes--and I too often ask myself the same question--who am I? What does it mean to have individuality and I defined by who I see myself as or by what others see me doing...

    But I know you need to being some cash to Vanna pronto, because I have no idea how to pronounce "Mqll."

    You don't pronounce Mqll--just as it is with BOC. Or LCMS. You say the letters in turn. Em. Que. El. El.

    But it is Mark Quinton Lindsey Louderback, in case you wonder. Quinton McPherson was mom's dad. Grandma Lindsey was dad's grandma. "Mark" is random.

    But still really don't know who I am...

  25. " American culture, we don't kneel..."

    This is most certainly true! Humility is not our strong suit as Americans, to be sure. All the more reason to begin teaching it using ceremonies. The pastor should set the example.

    The knee-jerk aversion to bending the knee is a symptom, and not of anything good.

    Part of the reason I ended up going to seminary was the shocking eucharistic lack-of-piety practiced by many of our pastors and congregations around the country that I observed while still a scandalized layman (before I became a scandalized pastor).

    By behaving like Protestants, I'm afraid generations of pastors have taught their congregations not to *really* believe what we say about the Real Presence. There is a dissonance between catechism and practicum. Genuflecting and other ceremonies bridge that gap.

    Isn't it funny how nobody has a problem with a quarterback "taking a knee" to run out the clock on the 50 yard line? No-one is shocked or scandalized. But when the pastor does it before the resurrected Lord at the High Altar, all of the sudden, it's a controversy.

    It speaks volumes, doesn't it?

    And that football analogy makes me want to sing: "Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life." And Mark, please don't tell me this is your congregation's opening hymn this Sunday...

  26. Heath,

    I believe my people will actually learn more of the Word of God by knowing a given set of pericopes very well due to repetition rather than a greater number of pericopes with less repetition of each.

    And why is this? Just the less is more thing?

    I guess when I went to Sem, one of the things that I learned that I carry with me is the amazing individuality of the Gospels. Yes, they are all speaking about the life of Christ, but each one does so in a manner that is distinct and separate from the rest. I like the fact that the 3 year cycle allows these voices to speak.

    Now quick - what's the Gospel lesson for Pentecost 19 in year B?

    I don't know. Nor do I know, off hand, what the eighth amendment is. Or the 20th president of the USA. There are many details that an individual can't pull out--but doubtless when the Gospel is read on that day, the words will be powerful and important.

    Anyway, I appreciate the answer and it makes sense. Have fun storming the castle. ;)

  27. Father Hollywood,

    And Mark, please don't tell me this is your congregation's opening hymn this Sunday...

    Please. We do contemporary music.

  28. "You don't pronounce Mqll--just as it is with BOC. Or LCMS. You say the letters in turn. Em. Que. El. El."

    Got it!

    Or we could just call you: "Mike Quebec Lima Lima" - which would be your international radio name. :-)

  29. "Please. We do contemporary music."

    Which, in many of our churches means bad acoustic guitar music written by Jesuits in the late 60s, or dreadful Maranatha tunes which, rumor has it, was used to torture "enemy combatants" at GTMO...

  30. Beane,

    You do point out perhaps the really reason folks rebel against ceremony. A quarterback kneels to kill the clock. That is good - it shortens the game. Genuflection in the Church is different. A Pastor is never supposed to do anything that in any way, shape, or form lengthens the time of service.

    Oh, and I do contemporary music too - everything's from the LSB, which was published within the past 5 years - that's pretty contemporary when you think about it.

  31. Father Hollywood,

    Which, in many of our churches means bad acoustic guitar music written by Jesuits in the late 60s, or dreadful Maranatha tunes which, rumor has it, was used to torture "enemy combatants" at GTMO..

    Amen brother. You and I should work together to rid the church of this. We'd be working different sides of the coin, but the results would be pleasing.

    And actually, you could call me just "Mike" which would be a slick little nickname, just between us...

    Is it Lie-Ma, as in the bean, or Lee-Ma, as in the city?

  32. what fun! Unfortunately, because of LCMS history with a certain bishop, the odds of returning to the confessional ideal of evangelical biships are slim to none. I carry in my coat pocket a document with one of my favorite sentences of all time, which I believe applies today: "When in the Course of Human Events, it beocme necessary for one People to dissolve the Polital Bands which have connected them with another..." if you actually converse with folks, including Seminary graduates, who don't give a *** about the Confessions, you too might despair of achieving anything approaching Concordia with them.

  33. Dear Paul:

    And to make it even more fun, the accepted court history of Bishop Stephan may not even be true. We've never really heard both sides of the story. It's certainly not as "tidy" as the official line. The sainted Rev. Dr. Stephen Wiest has done some academic work and has given lectures on the subject - very interesting stuff.

    But the good news is that evangelical episcopal polity is actually quite common around the world - even among churches that we're in full altar and pulpit fellowship with. The myth that congregational polity and democracy are divinely ordained and inherently Lutheran is being exposed for the fraud that it is, as heroes like Bishop Obare exemplify courageous Lutheranism around the world.

    I agree with you about "the course of human events" as well as the plague of LCMS seminarians and pastors who don't give a you-know-what about our Pious Concordia, our Symbolical Books. Thanks to our polity, even professors who deny the Trinity and teach evolution can remain on the roster for years on end. Ultimately, this (trying to practice oversight [Greek: "episkope"] by democracy)is our Achilles Heel.

    The good news is that it is a two-edged sword. Our polity also prevents (or at least toughens) an anti-confessional majority from ousting a confessional minority.

  34. I think the matter of genuflection all depends on how a person approaches it. Particularly if previously unfamiliar with the practice, the question is whether a sense of humility prevails among the people.

    Here at St. Paul's we don't have kneelers, but we have some very pious ladies on the altar guild who really wanted to be able to kneel. So they went ahead and *made* some kneelers, little folded-over cushions, which are placed at the ends of the pews. Pretty soon most everybody was doing it. Now the whole congregation can kneel for the Our Father, the Verba, the Benediction . . .

    Nobody forced it on them.

  35. Oh, and I do contemporary music too - everything's from the LSB, which was published within the past 5 years - that's pretty contemporary when you think about it. -- Fr. Brown

    I have been thinking about it, and the logic is undeniably appealing when it come to the praxis of daily life and its vocations. I am contemplating applying leeches to my patients, the ones with the anemic pneumonias (the procedure will lower health care costs dramatically, I would think); and then proceed to argue to the sainted plaintiff's attorney, while I sweat profusely in the dock, that I am merely choosing to employ the very best that medicine can offer, in the present tense.

    After all, I read about it in the Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, in an article published 2 years ago.

    The Sanctus is, of course, as "contemporary" as eternity. Accordingly, it's future-oriented to an extreme. It's the song of the angels, in heaven. Now that's ... mmm... "funky." Outdated? I think not. Get with it, folks.

  36. Dr. Anderson makes a good point.

    The term "contemporary" [from Latin: "cum" + "tempus"] - as in "contemporary worship" - has been hijacked. It has come to mean "new" and "faddish" and "breaking with tradition." It carries the connotation youth culture and the generation gap, a sort of middle finger raised to the twenty centuries of the saints who from their labors rest.

    More specifically, it has connotations of the guitars of post-big-band (mostly rock and roll) popular music - a genre that now changes as quickly as the latest sync of one's iPod.

    And yet the word "contemporary" doesn't really mean any of that.

    It means more along the lines of "timelessness." There are certain types of clothing and fashion that never go out of style, and so in that sense, they are "contemporary" - as opposed to faddishly timebound expressions like Nehru jackets and powdered wigs.

    Maybe we need to reclaim the word "contemporary" for the traditional liturgical Mass as the eternal worship with angels and archangels, etc. Maybe our traditional churches should put banners up saying "contemporary worship" and show people what real contemporary worship (timeless, transcendent, and eternal) really looks, sounds, and smells like.

    I would like to see a "we have contemporary worship" banner flying in front of Zion Lutheran Church in Detroit - since the Divine Service in that congregation is truly timeless and contemporary, a copy of the heavenly worship that God Himself says is *His* preference.

  37. I don't know. Nor do I know, off hand, what the eighth amendment is. Or the 20th president of the USA. There are many details that an individual can't pull out--but doubtless when the Gospel is read on that day, the words will be powerful and important. -- Rev. Louderback

    No doubt. That is why the innovative substitution of man's (or woman's) words, in the place of e.g., the Benediction of God Almighty, can be deemed to be as limp as an over-cooked noodle.

    "My Word will not return to Me void." The Promise does not extend to the innovations of the fallen brain, however stirring, creative and "funky." The atirring, creative and "funky" "Lutheran" experiments of the last 150 years, designated elsewhere as part and parcel of our "traditions" now, need to be further explained, as to their real intent and purpose ... beyond, perhaps, that of an exhilarating sense of "newness," a passing thrill which effectively informs the Church Triumphant that we mortals who yet require oxygen can do it better, and we can do it alone.

    There is nothing particularly boring about the historic liturgy, our Lutheran birth-right. It is true, however, that occasionally one has casually dismissed a birth-right, for the sake of a porridge which was perceived by the semi-starved brain as exhilarating.

    All I can say is that the exhilarating maybe needs more salt.


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