Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gottesdienst KC Area Conference: March 18

Join Dr. Eckardt, Rev. Chaplain Shaw, and me for a Gottesdienst one-day conference on Friday, March 18 in north Kansas City. More information can be found here. To reserve a spot, please contact our host, Fr. Brandon Froiland.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Why Real Worship Matters, continued...

by Larry Beane

HT: fellow Gottesdienst editor, Fr. Ben T. Ball at in a post at Four and Twenty + Blackbirds.

Notice how in all of these liturgical trainwrecks the defilement of the liturgy involves either entertainment, ethnic culture, the order of creation, or outright syncretism.  In other words, the anthropology of fallen man and his self-serving lusts encroach upon the christocentric Holy Ground of Word and Sacrament.

The good news is that all of these examples are from Roman Catholicism and the Episcopal Church.  The bad news is that those in glass houses...

Lord, have mercy, indeed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Personalized Copies of DDSB 15% off

Just in time for graduation and ordination season, I'm happy to offer personalized copies of Daily Divine Service Book. You can choose the color of the cover and font as well as a text with your name, church, etc. You may also send along an image file to incorporate into the cover. The cost for such personalization is just the regular price of the hardcover (which has been selling at 5% off – so it's actually $2 more than the current price for the non-personalized hardcover).

To order, send an email with the details of what you want on the cover, spine, and back cover to:, then I will create your edition and send you the link where it may be purchased.

And what is more – you can enter the coupon code IDES305 until March 15 to get 15% off your order, more than covering the extra cost for personalization. Here are some samples to get your creative juices flowing.

It will look great next to all your other burgundy books.

Father Loehe's personal copy of DDSB with his calendar on the inside and Neuendettelsau's coat of arms on the cover

Or maybe you are a Lutheran from Arriach, Austria

Jerusalem cross

Basic black ordination present

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Historic Rankings and Precedence of LSB's Feasts & Festivals

We've commented before on the somewhat idiosyncratic ranking of feasts in LSB (pp. xi). While the footnote to the calendar of Feasts and Festivals would seem to lay down a clear, though novel, rule (“observances listed in boldface are principal feasts of Christ and are normally observed when they occur on a Sunday”) - the calendar itself does not seem to follow its own rule. For example, St. Michael and All Angels are listed as “principal feasts of Christ” but not the Confession of Peter or Holy Innocents. St. John the Baptist's Nativity is a “principal feast of Christ,” but his martyrdom is not. Why?

The confusion gets even worse if your congregation subscribes to CPH's every Sunday bulletin service. A couple years ago July 22nd fell on a Sunday and the bulletin from CPH featured St. Mary Magdalene – but LSB lists this as a day that does not normally displace a Sunday.

Calendars have pretty much always been like this – much room for local custom and not a little confusion at the margins. And that's fine - there is a place for local custom in the Church. And since there is, here are the historic rankings of the Feasts and Festivals listed in LSB which will give you a much wider range of Feast days throughout the year that "trump" a Sunday (especially welcome during the long "green seasons.")

I've only listed the disagreements between LSB and the historic rankings – and I'm only looking at LSB's very sensible criterion of does this feast replace the Sunday liturgy? Those who want more detailed historic rankings can look at Daily Divine Service Book and add second collects to their heart's content. I have also added a few notes where they seemed appropriate – especially noting where LSB's rule is to be preferred to the historic rankings.

Feasts listed in LSB as not taking precedence over a Sunday, but that historically do take precedence

St. Thomas, Dec 21 (LSB's rule is to be preferred so as not to disrupt Advent)

St. John, Dec 27

Holy Innocents, Dec 28

The Confession of St. Peter, Jan 18 (Transfiguration would take precedence when it falls on Jan 18)

St. Timothy, Jan 24

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jan 25

St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor, Jam 26

St. Matthias, Feb 24 (Sundays in Lent, however, do not yield)

St. Mark, April 25 (Of course, St. Mark yields to Easter)

Sts. Philip and James, May 1

St. Barnabas, June 11 (Of course, St. Barnabas yields to Pentecost or Trinity Sunday)

Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29

St. Mary Magdalene, July 22

St. James the Elder, July 25

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, Aug 15 (!!)

St. Bartholomew, Aug 24

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, Aug 29

Holy Cross Day, Sept 14

St. Matthew, Sept 21

St. Luke, Oct 18

St. James of Jerusalem, Oct 23

Sts. Simon and Jude, Oct 28

Feasts listed in LSB as taking precedence over a Sunday, but that historically do not

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, Dec 31 (LSB's move here is more of a transference from Jan 1 for those years in which Dec 31 falls on a Sunday. It seems a sensible pastoral judgment - however, probably only if you are using the other rules listed in LSB about not observing St. John or Holy Innocents on Sunday. Historically, there are, in fact, only three dates that take the propers for the First Sunday after Christmas: Dec 29, 30, and 31.)

The Annunciation of Our Lord (The Annunciation cannot fall on a Sunday outside of Lent, all of which are of the first class. There is some confusion historically about what to do when this first class feast falls on a first class Sunday – I think it is wise to keep the Sundays in Lent intact.)

Several of the Commemorations in LSB historically have rankings on par with many of the saints listed in LSB's Feasts and Festivals section – for example, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Great, St. Martin of Tours and others all have the same rank as St. Titus. When such universally honored saints (as opposed to the “local saints” of Lutheranism – Robert Barnes, Martyr or Martin Luther, Doctor) fall on a Sunday, especially in the Season after Trinity, a local congregation would, I think, benefit from observing the saint's day over the Sunday as the historic calendars have it. Again, for full rankings of all these days, see Daily Divine Service Book.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daily Divine Service Book Housekeeping

Getting DDSB to Lie Flat

I've received a few emails asking, "Is there anyway to get my DDSB to lie flat on a missal stand or lectern?" The answer, for the hardcover edition, is yes. And this is a tip that is good for any perfect bound hardcover book. Open the book to the middle, turn ten pages forward and firmly and smoothly crease the fold. You don't want to cause a break in the glue that adheres the pages to the binding fabric - you just want to loosen it and increase its ductility. Continue doing this every ten pages until you reach the end of the book. Then, go back to the middle and follow the same procedure toward the front of the book - creasing every ten pages. This will take you maybe ten minutes and works like a charm. If you repeat the process after a couple days and let the book lie open while you are not using it, you will notice that the book gets even easier to use. I can now flip mine to any page and with a quick pass of my hand down the middle as I turn there, the book will lie flat - or, in early Advent, flat enough to use.

Open Flat: Divine Service Against the Heathen

Open Flat Enough: Ad Te Levavi


So far I know of only one major erratum that escaped the notice of my proofreading team, and as soon as I learned of it, I fixed it (the miracle of print on demand!): what should be an Exodus reading in the Easter Vigil service is actually from Isaiah (pp. 234-35). If you find that you have a copy that was printed before the error was discovered, you may go here and download a properly sized file that will allow you to print out the correct reading and paste it in the back of the volume, or even over top of the mistaken lesson on pp. 234-35 if you wish. I do apologize for the error.

The only other errata that you might want to fix with a pencil if you bought the book very early on have to do with page numbers. Throughout Lent, many of the propers refer back to the Tract for Ash Wednesday - in early copies, this was mistakenly listed as p. 104, it is actually on p. 102. Likewise at the General Prayer in the Ordinary, reference is made to using collects on p. 224ff - those collects actually begin on p. 222.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Daily Divine Service Book on Issues, Etc. Today

I'm scheduled to be on Issues, Etc. today at 3:00 pm CST to discuss the liturgical year and Daily Divine Service Book. Listen live at three, or download the conversation later.

All orders for DDSB today are 20% off with offer code HAPPY.


Friday, February 18, 2011

20% Off of Daily Divine Service Book Through Monday

This coming Monday, Lord willing, I'll be talking about Daily Divine Service Book on Issues Etc. Catch it at 3:00 CST online or download it later via podcast. Through Monday, all orders of DDSB volumes or anything else (like Dr. Eckardt's The New Testament in His Blood) via our publisher, Lulu, will receive a 20% discount with coupon code HAPPY305.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Economics in One Lesson -or- My Plan to Save the Seminaries

When I received my Concordia Seminary-St. Louis 2011 calendar, included with it was a letter from the seminary president aimed at laymen. It is composed of three large paragraphs - the first centers around the beauty of the CSL campus, the second tells of the successes of the How Will They Hear? campaign, and the third paragraph is about gaining students for CSL:

"One additional thing. We need more students on this campus. Over the years, the numbers of entering students have declined drastically. We beg your help in identifying young men and women who show people skills and academic ability to become the pastors and teachers who will serve our children, grandchildren and coming generations. Talk with your pastor about promising young people and let us know their names. . . . While you're speaking with your pastor and other clergy you know, encourage them to consider advanced studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. With a little incentive from the congregation, your church workers can keep their skills sharp for the demands of ministry as it challenges us all in today's real world."

First off, I find the rhetoric of this letter very refreshing. There is no talk of a "coming pastor shortage" or "coming church worker shortage." The focus is very much on the health of CSL. And we should be concerned for the health of both of our seminaries. To be a strong, thriving, Confessional Synod, we need strong, thriving, Confessional seminaries - and the reason for this is twofold. First, we need well trained pastors. But what ranks above even that, in my mind, is the fact that we need professional theologians. We need to pay the Nagels and the Scaers of the world to work at theology full time.

Gottesdienst has received some attention in high places of late for encouraging young men to think about the realities of going to seminary today. But let's not inflate our influence. Gottesdienst's hard look at the facts and advice to have a back up plan before entering seminary is not the reason why the number of students at both seminaries has "declined drastically." The cause of this phenomenon at both CSL and CTSFW is, I think, rather clear: the economics of the free market.

Market Forces

The Missouri Synod has chosen to have a more or less free market in pastoral education and preparation - not as free a market as some church bodies, but much more so than others. Some churches choose to have a highly socialized education economy: students are identified and sent to prep school and seminary for free. That is, free to the students: somebody is paying for it, of course, and that is usually the church at large, though as in all higher education, private donors are very important. If a student washes out, that economic sunk cost is absorbed by the socialized system as a whole.

In the LCMS, there are a lot of scholarships, a lot of private donors, a lot of individual parishes that generously support local students. My parishes, for example, are very generous toward the food bank at CSL and individual students at both seminaries. But in our system, the seminaries do charge tuition. And that tuition is by no means cheap. When you consider that for the normal seminarian a four year bachelor's degree is required before you set foot on campus, it comes as no surprise that the topic of "church worker indebtedness" has been all the rage at COP meetings and district pastors' conferences.

And then consider the pastoral labor market - and make no mistake, it is a market: the free market is a "first article gift," if you will, and you cannot banish it from the church by fond wishing. This market is tight. Recently, the First VP of the Synod said that the current number of vacancies in the Missouri Synod is the smallest he has ever known in his 30-some years of service in the church. Three out of the past four Aprils have found more seminarians than calls. Eventually they have "all" been placed - but that "all" does not include those who decide to stay for an STM, or go on a mission trip, or landed a stop-gap CPE deal with a local hospital, or what have you. Thus, some of those who did not seek calls last spring will be seeking calls this spring. We'll see how it goes when May rolls around.

The Economics of Deciding to Go to Seminary

But why is the market so tight? From the perspective of a 22 year old college grad who is looking at seminary, it doesn't really matter. It's simply an economic fact that must be included in his consideration. And here's another iron clad law of that first article gift the free market: increase the supply of something relative to demand and you lessen its economic worth. That is to say, so long as there is a tight pastoral labor market, there will be downward pressure on pastoral pay. This is not such a big deal for those jurisdictions that insist on a celibate clergy. For us, however, we've got more first article gifts to consider: wife, children, and all I have. "Young man, how are you going to support my little girl?" is not a question lightly or rightly ignored by young men in debt in their early to mid 20's.

So, our potential seminarian looks at the current situation and thinks: "Well, my current debt from undergrad is $XX,XXX. If I go to the seminary, I figure on getting, say, 40% of my tuition, books, and living expenses covered by scholarships and a part-time job. So, I'm looking at an additional $YY,YYY in loans. But I see that the past few Aprils guys haven't gotten calls. And I know pastors don't get paid that much, say $zz,zzz per year. I want to get married and have kids. I'll be looking at a monthly loan payment of $AAA or $A,AAA for B number of years just as we are starting out...."

At this point, depending on the young man and his specific situation, his thoughts might turn in any of the following directions...

* And I can certainly serve the church in other ways than being a pastor. Didn't Luther say that God was just as pleased with the scullery maid at her washing as with a pastor poring over his Greek?

* My fiancée can probably get a pretty good job in St. Louis/Ft. Wayne....

* The Lord will provide!

* I wonder if there is another way to become a pastor?

And with that last point we come back round to the question of how we got into this tight pastoral labor market. Part of the answer is certainly demographic change - both in a refusal of Lutherans to consider children as a blessing from God and in the phenomenon of rural population collapse leading to more market efficiency in the form of larger average parish size and a corresponding loss in the number of pastorates. It used to take three pastors to serve three small parishes - now perhaps they have combined to form one large parish with a senior pastor and an assistant pastor: market efficiency up, pastorates down.

Substitute Goods are Not Always Good

But another part of the explanation is the refusal of the Missouri Synod to insist that every man who acts like a pastor be a pastor. "Lay ministry" is what economists call a substitute good. In the past, pastors were a good without a nearly equivalent substitute. There are always substitute goods at the margin - even water has substitute goods at the margin: you can take a "bath" with baby wipes if you have to. Likewise, if your pastor is suddenly sick on Sunday, a layman leading Matins and reading a Luther sermon is an imperfect substitute good for that Sunday. But you can't drink anything but water. And, in the past, you couldn't have a congregation without a pastor.

But ever since 1989, the demand for pastors has achieved greater elasticity due to the introduction of a novel substitute good: the "lay minister."

Now, margarine is not butter. Butter is natural, delicious, and nutritious; margarine is synthetic, disgusting, and can give you unpleasant side effects. But it kind of looks like butter, is smooth and fatty like butter, can be flavored like butter, and, boy! is it a lot cheaper. Thus, the introduction of margarine, as hideous as it is, decreased the demand for butter.

Well, Pastors:Butter::"Lay minister":Margarine. So don't act surprised that the need for pastors has declined since 1989.

Demand for traditional pastors became more elastic yet in 2007 with the introduction of SMP. Now, the hope for SMP was that it would actually decrease elasticity by reining in the "lay ministers" and making them, at the very least, somewhat trained but at least called and ordained pastors. Instead, in many cases, SMP is being used as a way for men to get ordained who would otherwise have become seminary trained pastors.

But don't take my word for it: call your DP and ask him. Seriously. Tell him you heard that a bunch of young, white, suburban guys are being let into the SMP program from larger parishes so as to become assistant pastors in those larger parishes. Based on reports from more than one man in the field who has had this talk with his DP, I'm betting dollars to donuts that your conversation goes like this: You ask your DP, "Rt. Rev. Sir, what is up with these young, white, suburban guys from big parishes being let into SMP? I thought the idea for SMP was that this would be a way for hard to reach areas or small ethnic communities to get real live ordained pastors? I hoped that maybe these 'lay ministers' might use it to repent and become actual pastors. It's not supposed to cut into the seminaries' market!" The DP shall reply unto thee, "Forsooth, that guy is a great guy, he will be a great pastor!" You may say, "OK, great. But why isn't he in the normal seminary program?" And your DP will say, "He is in SMP because the seminary is too expensive."

And golly how things, when they go around, come around! First, a substitute good was found for pastors and now we have a substitute good for 4-year seminary education.

When a substitute good is introduced, the economic value of the original good decreases. Thus, the value of seminary education, from an economic point of view, has inescapably decreased due to the introduction of a substitute good. What have the seminaries done in the face of this reality? They are charging more tuition! What could that lead to?

"Over the years, the numbers of entering students have declined drastically."

A Plan for a Newly Regulated Market

If you're going to have something of a free market in pastoral education, then you're going to have to live with market forces. Of course, what we really have is a highly regulated market with the Synod convention, seminaries, COP, etc., as the regulators. We could change the way we do things. We could scrap what's not working and do something else. We could come up with a plan that will ensure the future of both seminaries. For your thought and consideration, here's my plan.

* End all anti-AC XIV "lay ministry" (see below for details on how). Also end all non-residential ordination track programs and tell the current enrollees that whatever classes they have already taken will be to their credit in the seminary residential program. This will be an easier pill to swallow once you...

* ...commit to once again make seminary cost-free for ordination-track students (You can get $780,000 to spend on this just by ending the CTCR and telling the seminary faculties to perform its functions - one of which is evidently to tell us all to plant gardens. Give me the Synod budget and the cost of making seminary tuition free and I'll find you the rest of the cuts) - this would allow the Synod to....

* ....cap enrollment at the seminaries based on an estimate of the number of calls needed four years in the future provided by the DPs plus 10%. This would allow only the top student candidates to be brought into the program and give graduates a more sure chance at receiving a call on Call Day four years hence. Drop-outs could be replaced from names on a waiting list.

These points would also have the happy consequence of encouraging forthright, realistic, and honest appraisals of future pastoral needs uninfluenced by the very real bottom line concerns of the seminaries.

The January Reporter also tells us that, once again, baptized and confirmed membership in the LCMS is down for the umpteenth straight year. How on earth are more pastors the solution to a problem of falling membership? This is a demographic problem that will require a demographic solution (i.e., Lutherans need to trust God to plan their families instead of writing off "Be fruitful and multiply" as an artifact of a bygone era). There's simply never been a Christian denomination that was able to turn around a demographic decline via evangelism. It just ain't gonna happen, friends: ask the Shakers. If you want the LCMS to grow, or just plain exist in anything like the form it does today 50 years hence, then start preaching on Psalm 127:3-5.

But back to our plan. An important part of correcting the pastoral labor market will be dealing with the current "lay ministers." Here's how:

* Invite all congregations who are happy with their current lay ministers to call those men to the Office of the Ministry. If they will not call a man, then his "license" is revoked. If they continue to employ him without calling him to the Office of the Ministry, they should be disciplined just like any other congregation who seeks ministerial services outside the LCMS clergy roster.

* The men thus called should be examined and, if qualified, certified by the district in which they serve and then be ordained. Since they have not been certified by the Synod at large, they are not eligible for service in the Synod at large but will serve out their ministries in the district that certified and ordained them. Of course, they will be welcomed at the new tuition-free seminaries if they want to be on the Synod wide clergy roster.

* It should be made clear that the above district-certification process is a one time affair undertaken to correct a problem 22 years in the making and will not be repeated. Further needs in rural or hard to reach communities will be met by the district and/or Synod making sure that an actual pastor cares for those people. And don't tell me it can't be done. Just north of me is the infamously rural and hard to reach Calhoun County, Illinois - stuck between the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. In its rural-ness and isolation it reminds me of the Western Nebraska in which I grew up. In this sizable county, there are five Roman Catholic parishes - and exactly one priest. It works.

What's Your Plan?

That's my take on this whole situation. I'm not out to get the seminaries - I want them to thrive. But I'm also not out to hurt young men who desire to serve the Church - I want them to thrive as well, and not end up in debt, without calls, and embittered. We in the Missouri Synod need to take a long and hard look at what's working and what's not when it comes to seminary education. You've seen my ideas for saving the seminaries - what are yours? Do they address the problems of demography, substitute goods, AC XIV, and an educational market? I don't think you can save the seminaries without addressing all of them.

The clock is ticking - if my plan is so bad, let's see yours.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Liturgical Parish Life Resource CD

Back in 2006 I began holding the Liturgical Parish Life Conference for seminarians. I give my defense of traditional Lutheran worship and piety, we talk about the rubrics of the Divine Service, what happens in your first year or two of ministry, etc. I also put together a CD full of every document that I found helpful in my first few years of ministry for these guys so that they would not have to be constantly reinventing the wheel.

This grew out of how I survived my first few years. I would encounter a new problem - what to do for premarital counseling? how to talk to the elders about weekly communion? etc. - email all the pastors I knew whom I thought might be able to help, then edit what they sent me for my situation. Why should these seminarians, I thought, have to repeat that process? So I dumped everything on a CD and gave a copy to everyone who registered for the Conference. I've been adding and substituting stuff as I find it useful every since.

As time went on and seminarians graduated, word got out about the CD and other parish pastors have asked for it. At long last, I'm getting around to offering it in an orderly way. There is a PayPal Buy Now button at the right. The cost for the CD shipped to you is $5 - enough to cover my production, packaging, shipping, and PayPal fees. Now available as a free download

These two screen shots show you all the folders and sub-folders that are included, which will give you an idea of the files that are in them. Everything is in either .doc or .pdf format and in the public domain. I hope it can be useful to you.


Somali Christians

This post is sent along by Fr. Simojoki. It is certainly worth your time - and your prayers.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Also in print!

We had a great time at CSL last night talking about the liturgy and ceremonies of the Lutheran Church. Not only students, but also a couple of area pastors and a faculty member attended and we had great back and forth on a number of topics. I hope that Opus Dei can make such conversations a monthly affair on campus. One of the things pastors need most is the mutual consolation of brethren who are serious about being evangelical, catholic, and Lutheran - and seminarians need to start identifying those folks sooner rather than later.

And here's one of the Editor-in-Chief's attention. At such talks I always take along a few books to sell (Especially Conduct of the Service from Redeemer Press and now Daily Divine Service Book) as well as my resource CD and free copies of Gottesdienst. One of the students perusing the table said, "Oh, Gottesdienst is a magazine, too? I thought it was just a blog."

It's a blog, a journal, the best conference in the Missouri Synod, and a way of life, my friends. Subscribe today. In the print journal you get the Top Shelf Content: regular commentary from Dr. Eckardt, Ch. Shaw, Frs. Berg & Berg, and Fr. Petersen as well as sermons selected by Fr. Beane and the occasional guest column as well. Order soon - the Easter issue is going to press shortly. I think that will have a sermon by me and e.e. cummings (old friends), something from Petersen in his signature style that I can't tell you about because he always makes deadline by the skin of teeth, and the return of a column specifically on the rubrics. If you missed the last issue, you missed a wonderful Motely Magpie column - see if the editor will let you start your subscription with that issue.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

CS Lewis on the Liturgy

This is perennially quoted and relates to the conversation which Fr. Beane's manifesto Real Worship incited.

From Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain -- many give up churchgoing altogether -- merely endure.

Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don't go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it. Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. And it enables us to do these things best -- if you like, it "works" best -- when, through long familiarity, we don't have to think about it. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don't notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God.

But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about the worship is a different thing from worshipping. The important question about the Grail was "for what does it serve?" "'Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god."

A still worse thing may happen. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the questions "What on earth is he up to now?" will intrude. It lays one's devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, "I wish they'd remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try expirements on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks."

Lenten Midweek Series & The Church's Lectionary

Since there is a Divine Service with full propers appointed for everyday in Lent (all included in Daily Divine Service Book of, course), a variety of Lenten midweek series present themselves whether your parish observes additional Divine Services or prayer offices.

Your use of the resources in DDSB will, no doubt, be dictated by your parish's custom when it comes to observing Lent. Do you have daily mass or just an additional Vespers on Wednesday or something in between (see poll)?

If you have daily mass, then DDSB obviously has what you are looking for. But if you have what I might deem the Traditional Midwestern Lent with a prayer office on Wednesday evenings, you are not doomed to use some canned series made up by who knows who on the shapes of cross or Valleys of Lent (I am not making that up) or pretending to be a different character each week (You are not a good actor. Yes, I mean you). The daily Lenten devotion of the Western Church, as indicated by the masses appointed for those days, can still guide your preaching and teaching during Lent.

Consider one of the following. (I'm assuming that you will, in any case, use the readings for mass for Ash Wednesday even if you have only Vespers that day - thus, you are looking for five readings appropriate for Lenten Vespers.)

* There is a striking emphasis on the Old Testament in the daily masses of Lent - very nearly every Epistle lesson is from the OT. It would take many a 5-week Lenten Midweek series to preach through all of them and draw Christ from every page.

* In a similar fashion you might use the readings from the Easter Vigil (again, all from the OT), one or two per week on the Wednesdays in Lent. This is especially worthwhile if this is your first year with the Easter Vigil as it will draw the people's attention toward that service.

* Ember Day readings. The three Ember Days in Lent (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in Invocabit) have 12 readings assigned between the three of them and present the lentiest kernel of the Lenten theme of repentance and prayer. You could use one, two, or three of those readings at each of your Lenten Vespers.

* For each week in Lent, choose one of the Gospels appointed for daily mass from Monday-Saturday and use that at your Wednesday Vespers. Preaching that Gospel as it relates to the previous Sunday's Gospel will be an edifying exercise for you and your people.

You do not have to be adrift during Lent - let the Church's lectionary guide you! And in your own private devotion, even if you don't celebrate daily mass, use the daily mass readings. This has been a fruitful discipline for me for several years now and it really changes your appreciation of the season.


CSL Liturgy Workshop: Now in the Presidents' Room

Our venue has been changed for tomorrow night's liturgy workshop. Instead of meeting in Loeber 2 we will be in the Presidents' Room. Beer, snacks, and liturgical bibliography discussion is scheduled to start at 6 with the main presentation at 7:15.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Music and Hymnody in the Life of the Church

I haven't been a prolific blogger for a while now (mea culpa), but I have still been thinking about and trying to confess the Word of God, and on occasion have had the privilege and opportunity to share some of that thinking with the Church. Recently, I was invited to speak on music and hymnody in American Christianity at the annual Free Conference hosted by Faith Lutheran Church in Plano, Texas. The other speaker was Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown, who presented an excellent and edifying paper on the role of hymnody in the 16th-century Lutheran Reformation.

For those who are are interested, there are audio and video recordings now available from the conference here.

Liturgy Workshop at CSL Feb 10

Just a reminder that the Opus Dei workshop on Liturgical Parish Life is scheduled to take place this Thursday from 6:00-9:00pm. Due to other campus activities we will actually begin the evening at 6:00pm with beer, snacks, and a look at DDSB and other liturgical resources followed by the main presentation at 7:15.

We will meet in Loeber 2.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Hands off, Pastor

Dear Pastor,

Please, for the love of God's people and all things holy, stop writing your own liturgies. The results are often embarrassing, always sectarian, and almost all of the time just a chance for you to beat your hobby horses to death. As an example of all of the above I enclose a copy of the preparatory rite (wait: best not to call it a rite, as you will see) from a recent Nebraska District Pastors' Conference.

Please stop; please.

Agnus T. Sheep, parishioner

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eucharistic Adoration

How did TDP get printed? Several times over the course of the year I find myself asking that question - not because there is anything amiss, but because Treasury of Daily Prayer is so darn good, Lutheran, liturgical, and down right evangelical-catholic. Imagine if everybody in your congregation were reading this today:

"Now, here we are not saying that one should not worship our dear Lord Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, being present, of that one should not hold this Sacrament with all honor and reverence. On the contrary, since these divine, almighty, true words are believed, all of this follows of itself, and not only in external gestures but also both externally and, first and foremost, in the heart, spirit, and truth. On account of this, such adoration of Christ is not thereby cancelled, but much rather, confirmed. For where the Word is rightly seen, considered and believed, the adoration of the Sacrament will happen of itself. For whoever believes that Christ's body and blood are there (as there is plenty of evidence so to believe, and it is necessary so to believe), he cannot, to be sure, deny his reverence to the body and blood of Christ without sin. For I must confess that Christ is there when His body and blood are there. His words do not lie to me, and He is not separate from His body and blood." - George von Anhalt, TDP, February 3, pp. 1179-80

Rubric from DDSB: It is appropriate for the congregation to make the sign of the cross at the elevation/genuflection and to quietly hail the present Christ with Thomas' Confession:"My Lord and my God."

And that's why I buy a TDP as a wedding present for any members who get married.


Epiphany 5

Epiphany 5 and its Gospel of the Wheat and the Tares only rarely occurs - only when Easter falls on the last few days of the year it can fall. So many thanks to Fr. Juhl and his host Fr. Peperkorn over at for posting some wonderful preparation for this week, which many of our readers, including myself, have never preached on before.

After reading through what Fr. Juhl put up, I'm going to start with this: There is something wrong with all the Lord's parables. A farmer who throws seed among rocks? A merchant who sells the clothes off his back and all else he has so that he can have one pearl? A businessman who pays the same wage for 1 hour's work as for twelve? And now a farmer who forbids his farmhands from doing some sensible weeding. . .


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

20% off of DDSB and New Testament in His Blood

Today and tomorrow all Daily Divine Service Book products as well as The New Testament in His Blood are 20% off with the code NOSHADOW305.


CSL Liturgy Workshop Postponed to Feb 10

The dire forecasts of Snowpocalypse 2011: The Snowdown did not really come to fruition in the St. Louis Metro area, but while such predictions were at their height, we went ahead and postponed the Opus Dei student workshop on the liturgy for one week to Thursday, Feb 10, 6:00pm-9:00pm. If you are within shouting distance of the Sem, please join us.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gottesdienst KC Area Conference: March 18

How To

Gottesdienst is happy to announce another of our regional conferences. Christ Lutheran Church in Platte Woods, MO (20 minutes north of downtown Kansas City) is hosting Gottesdienst KC: Celebrating the Easter Vigil in Parishes Large and Small.

The Easter Vigil is the center of the liturgical year, a most beautiful and elaborate celebration of the mysteries of the Faith. Up from relative oblivion in decades past, the Easter Vigil continues to gain greater currency in North American Lutheranism. Yet many pastors, especially of smaller parishes, have been reluctant to begin such an elaborate service because of questions such as: Can I conduct it all by myself? What if I can't sing everything? Fire and incense and candles, Oh My! All such topics will be addressed, all the ceremonies explained, and concrete ideas for celebrating the Vigil in both small and large parishes will be explored. Participants are encouraged to bring their LSB Altar Books and their copies of Daily Divine Service Book, which contains a fuller explanation of all the ceremonies than is contained in LSB. All participants will receive DDSB: Easter Vigil as part of their registration fee (see below).

With Gottesdienst you always get at least double the bang for your buck - so besides this very practical look at the Easter Vigil in the afternoon session, Rev. Dr. Burnell F. Eckardt will deliver a theological paper on some controversial topic or another after Divine Service. We are also hoping that Fr. Shaw's schedule will allow him to come over from Leavenworth to serve as preacher.

Gottesdienst KC: Celebrating the Easter Vigil in Parishes Large and Small

(8:30 am Individual Confession & Absolution available)
9:00 am Divine Service (Ember Friday in Lent)
10:30 am Theological Paper (Dr. Eckardt)
11:45 am Office of None
12:00 Lunch
1:00 pm The Easter Vigil and Its Ceremonies (Fr. Curtis)
3:00pm Vespers
3:30 pm Gemütlichkeit

Registration: $12

Pre-Registration is Appreciated. Please send the form below to
Christ Lutheran Church
ATTN: Pastor Froiland
6700 N.W. 72nd Street
Platte Woods, Missouri 64151-1600

Gottesdienst KC: Celebrating the Easter Vigil in Parishes Large and Small

March 18, 2011

Title:________ Parish:_______________________________
City:________________ State:______
Email: _____________________________

Registration: $12 (Payable to Christ Lutheran Church, "Gottesdienst" in the memo line)
Includes Lunch and a printed copy of DDSB: Easter Vigil