Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Plus ça change ("The more things change...)

By Larry Beane

"All this skepticism, uncertainty, and experimenting has unfortunately unsettled only too many pastors in the church around us.  These pastors themselves have lost faith, more or less, in the divinely ordained means of grace.  They are casting about for new means and methods by which to reach and hold men.  They are experimenting with all sorts of novelties and attractions.  Their churches and services are becoming more and more places of entertainment.  They try to outbid and outdo one another in sensations calculated to draw.  And so the church, like Samson of old, is shorn of her locks, and is degraded to make sport for the Philistines of the world.  No true Lutheran pastor can stoop to such prostitution of his office and of his church."

~ G.H. Gerberding, 1903
The Lutheran Pastor,  p.124


  1. Your are so right, nothing really changes.

  2. Wonderfully said! What can you tell us about Gerberding - I must confess my ignorance of him.


  3. Oh my goodness, history repeats itself! Nothing changes! I'm not a good Lutheran pastor!

    Glad Gottesdienst hasn't changed over Lent...

    Kids, did I tell ya what an awesome Easter celebration I had? It will take a little bit more than handwringing over skepticism, uncertainty, and experimentation to take the bloom off.

    You can keep up the claims of "Entertainment" and "Novelty" and the like. But when you are actually there--you weren't of course and many wouldn't be, I know...

    But if you were...being a part of the proclamation of the resurrection of the Lord...and you looked out and you saw those standing there.

    Maybe, you caught an eye with someone who had a conversation with you about returning to church...maybe your non-confessional children's message ("No! No! Make the bad man stop!") was overflowing with new kids--wait, wait, no, there was the same number there as usual and it was just overflowing.

    Maybe you just enjoy clapping. I mean, really, who doesn't like to clap?

    Well, let me tell you: if you were there and you were me, you'd find it makes it easy to stomach this stuff. Blessings to ya guys! Let me know if you need any easy foils.

  4. Well, the usual foil returns -- and points to his large crowd, and the adulation he receives. Nothing does change.

  5. Coming soon to a Lutheran congregation near you (or at least in Texas)...

  6. Mark Q.:

    Blessed Easter! Infrequent contributor to the discussions here. My curiosity has been piqued. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to post or describe what you do in your parish for a CoWo funeral service? Or what you did last Friday for a CoWo Good Friday Service? I am truly curious, not trying to be snarky. Did you clap for the Death of Jesus? Do you clap for the family of the deceased? And if not, why not?

  7. Larry,

    Are you saying you wouldn't strip down and dance on a pole to save someone's soul? Didn't David dance naked before the Lord? Where's your heart for the lost?


  8. Pastor Gerberding's Book is available for free as a PDF download on Google Books at this URL:

  9. An aside: I am really enjoying the Gerberding book. It is as fresh now as it was at the turn of the 20th century. There are several other of his books on Google Books and elsewhere on the 'Net for free - including the sequel to The Lutheran Pastor called The Lutheran Catechist.

  10. Fr. Hollywood,
    I don't get to look at blogs much anymore because of work and school but I downloaded both the Lutheran Pastor and Catechist. Since I'm not a pastor I opened up the Catechist first. The first page of the first chapter is a goldmine by itself. Thanks so much for letting me in on these books!!!


  11. Pastor Anderson,

    I never have any problem answering questions, but for future reference yes, your post does border on the snark. You might watch that.

    My worship is pretty much a standard CoWo. Songs, sometimes written responses, sometimes not. Sometimes a creed (apostles & nicene) sometimes not. Sometimes the catechism, sometimes not.

    Always Lord's Supper.

    Always children's message. Always confession. Mostly absolution--and you get the occasional response to that.

    Good Friday was pretty close to a standard tenebrae service. We did not clap.

    Just because clapping is appropriate at times in a worship service does not mean that it is always appropriate. I take prayer requests before we pray "Anyone have have anything they want us to be praying for." People don't interrupt my sermon to give me prayer requests.

    As far as my service goes, once again, I probably do things that others would not do and don't do things others would do. It is striking a balance.

    At the core though, I pretty much see it as doing exactly what you do. Gottesdienst.

    Does that answer your question?

  12. Gerberding is my predecessor (with a dozen or so pastors in between). His sense of the power of the means of grace remains strong in the congregation I serve. For that I am deeply grateful.

  13. It does largely answer my question. Thanks. I guess I am still not certain about how you view decorum and reverence in the Divine Service as opposed to how those things have been traditionally viewed and treated, but maybe we are just coming from very different places in that regard. Anyway, thanks again. Blessed Easter!

  14. Pastor Anderson,

    No problem. But even when i was only doing traditional liturgy, I am fairly sure that my view of decorum and reverence as opposed to how things were traditionally viewed and treated was probably pretty different.

    I understand the need for decorum -- and indeed I am with Pr Hollywood on pole dancing sorta stuff -- but too often it seems as though on GO the point of the service is reverence to God. It isn't. And nor is reverence the only rubric that is used for judging.

    God's blessings.


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