Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A convert speaks

Father Surburg has a very thoughtful piece on his switch from the three-year to the one-year lectionary. I'll add one more reason why the one-year lectionary might be worth a try in your congregation: the new bulletin covers for the one-lectionary that feature solid Christian artwork based on the Gospel for the day.


Monday, January 27, 2014

"Call No Man Father:" Luther's Take

Every now and again, the Gottesdienst Crowd™is taken to task for calling Lutheran clergy persons Father. Father H. R. Curtis has the definitive post—self-attributed naturally, but that's how we roll—on the biblical evidence HERE. But we're Lutherans, so regardless of what the Bible says, Luther is more important (NB: this is sarcasm).

Imagine my surprise then, when reading the Large Catechism, which is in the Book of Concord, I stumbled upon this juicy bit. In the section covering the Fourth Commandment, Luther writes:
158 So we have two kinds of fathers presented in this commandment: fathers in blood and fathers in office. Or, those who have the care of the family and those who have the care of the country. Besides these there are still spiritual fathers. They are not like those in the papacy, who have had themselves called fathers but have performed no function of the fatherly office [Matthew 23:9]. For the only ones called spiritual fathers are those who govern and guide us by God’s Word. 159 In this sense, St. Paul boasts his fatherhood in 1 Corinthians 4:15, where he says, “I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 160 Now, since they are fathers, they are entitled to their honor, even above all others. But to spiritual fathers the least amount of honor is bestowed. The way the world knows for honoring them is to drive them out of the country and to begrudge them a piece of bread. In short, spiritual fathers must be (as says St. Paul [1 Corinthians 4:13]) like the filth of the world and everybody’s refuse and foot rag.
161 Yet there is need that this truth about spiritual fatherhood also be taught to the people. For those who want to be Christians are obliged in God’s sight to think them worthy of double honor who minister to their souls [1 Timothy 5:17–18]. They are obligated to deal well with them and provide for them. For that reason, God is willing to bless you enough and will not let you run out. 162 But in this matter everyone refuses to be generous and resists. All are afraid that they will perish from bodily needs and cannot now support one respectable preacher, where formerly they filled ten potbellies. 163 Because of this, we also deserve for God to deprive us of His Word and blessing and to allow preachers of lies to arise again and lead us to the devil. In addition, they will drain our sweat and blood. 
164 But those who keep God’s will and commandment in sight have this promise: everything they give to temporal and spiritual fathers, and whatever they do to honor them, shall be richly repaid to them. They will not have bread, clothing, and money for a year or two, but will have long life, support, and peace. They shall be eternally rich and blessed. 165 So just do what is your duty. Let God manage how He will support you and provide enough for you. Since He has promised it and has never lied yet, He will not be found lying to you [Titus 1:2]. (LC I:158–165). 
There you have it guys. Luther says it's okay. He also says that whatever you do to honor your fathers, temporal and spiritual, "shall be richly repaid." Did I mention that Gottesdienst accepts donations? Too much? Well, at least the quotation's good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sabre of Boldness Goes to Rev. Michael Brockman

The Sabre of Boldness was awarded to Rev. Michael Brockman on Thursday evening, January 23rd, on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary after the Symposia banquet.  The editors of Gottesdienst selected Pastor Brockman from a slate of six nominees, all of whom we count honorable and worthy of the award.

Rev. Michael Brockman returned from missionary service in Venezuela in the 1990s to serve in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, doing Hispanic outreach.  Then, after serving briefly in Iowa, he took a call to serve Christ Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, Kansas.  From the beginning of his tenure in Hutchinson, district officials were hostile to traditional Lutheran preaching and practice, attempting to force Church Growth methodology upon Pastor Brockman and his flock.  Through the Spirit-inspired preaching and instruction of Pastor Brockman, his flock was able to resist, but twice the district managed to foster and abet the fomenting of open rebellion in the congregation.  Still, Pastor Brockman and his little band were able to stand on God's pure Word and endure, but the  devastation wrought by the failed coups left the faithful with a Pyrrhic victory, and they were never able fully to recover financially or institutionally.  In order to remain preaching in Hutchinson and serving these heroes who stood with him against false doctrine, Pastor Brockman took pay cut after pay cut and part-time jobs.  The congregation, to buy some time, eventually sold the parsonage, and the Brockman family moved into a rental. At length, Pastor Brockman's sacrificial service to the saints in Hutchinson cost him his career and his income, and caused terrible mental anguish.

After nearly two decades the congregation was forced to close its doors, and when the Church should have been handing Pastor Brockman a retirement bonus and asking him to teach young pastors in the way, instead he has now been called to an unpaid position at a Lutheran Church in Wichita with a friend and compatriot Pastor Geoff Boyle, with whom he continues humbly and faithfully to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the life of the world.

Honored to know Pastor Brockman, the editors of Gottesdienst are pleased to announce him as the recipient of the Sabre of Boldness, and commend his faithful and humble service as an exemplary pattern of a Christian life.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sabre of Boldness Ceremony Tonight

The Annual Sabre of Boldness ceremony takes place tonight in the Student Commons at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort  Wayne, after the Symposia banquet.  Here is the slate of nominees, from which the editors of Gottesdienst, meeting this afternoon, will choose the recipient.  As ever, we consider eachof these nominees most worthy to stand for nomination:

Sabre nominees for 2014

1) Mrs. Mollie Hemingway of Alexandria, Virginia

A senior editor at The Federalist, Mollie has been tirelessly writing and speaking out in defense of life, and unflinching in exposing the lies and atrocities committed by the enemies of the Church and the unborn, often covering stories that mainstream media tries to bury, ignore, or distort.  She is credited with introducing the nation to the atrocities of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.

2) Rev. J. Bart Day, Executive Director of the LCMS Corporate

Pastor Day works mostly behind the scenes at the national office of the Missouri Synod, having hired faithful and confessional employees to positions of authority in the Office of National Mission, slowly and methodically refocusing the work of the 17 national mission ministries.  He has also spoken out frankly and forthrightly in behalf of the Church when others have remained silent, issuing public statements on the Boy Scouts of America decision regarding homosexual Scouts, and the Supreme Court’s decision regarding same-sex unions.  For his service he has received hate mail, vitriolic emails, public scorn, slander, and libel. 

3) Rev. Wade Seaver, Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Bellaire, Michigan

Pastor Seaver has throughout his career upheld the Scriptures and the Lutheran confessions.  His unwillingness to bend to current trends has caused him to be singled out as difficult and intolerant. In humility he calls people to repentance for living a sinful lifestyle, in spite of the ill effects this faithfulness has had upon his reputation. He is simply a servant of God, who seeks to guide His flock faithfully.

4) Rev. Vance Tech, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Crestview, Florida

Pastor Tech, in spite of his being a beloved confessional pastor among the laity and clergy, with a reputation a true gentleman, has been the victim of unscrupulous attacks on his reputation by a bureaucracy that appears to have found his faithfulness inconvenient. For a time restricted, and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation, he was at length cleared, and continues to serve the same parish, never having wavered throughout the onslaught.

5) Mrs. Amy Tackitt of Wheatland Wyoming

Miss Tackitt made a courageous confession of faith at the 2013 Synodical Convention, when she spoke out on a resolution seeking to commend the Concordia University System Schools for faithfulness. She had the audacity to state that she had been taught theistic evolution at one of our Concordias when she was a student in the 1980s, and suggested that before commending faithfulness, we should make certain that institutions are faithful.  The reaction was swift and severe. Pressured her to recant and admit publicly to breaking the eighth commandment, and taken to four separate meetings with officials, she stood by her claim and at length gained support from the Synodical President, and later, a unanimous vote of the Wyoming District Pastoral intending on the basis of her evidence to investigate the institution in question. 

6) Rev. Michael Brockman of Wichita, Kansas

Biography to follow soon.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's Almost Time...

... for Lenten and Easter devotional reading.

There is time to order!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Gottesdienst Online International Top Ten

Thank you, readers of Gottesdienst Online, for reading and for contributing with comments and discussion.  Here is snapshot as of now of the top ten countries GO has had in terms of pageviews and the number from each country.

United States
United Kingdom

We are getting close to 800,000 total pageviews since our inaugural post by Father Eckardt on April 28, 2009.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fitting rite for Candlemas

The Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of Mary falls on a Sunday this year, so it is fitting to include the traditional Blessing of the Candles....hence the name Candlemas for February 2.

In the Latin Rite inherited by Lutherans there are five prayers for this rite, incense burning, and sprinkling with holy water. Some of the prayers are less than Evangelical - drawing upon the invocation of the saints, for instance; and five collects for blessing the candles displays the Latin Rite's tendency towards excessive growth. Most of our parishes do not use incense on a regular basis. And we don't believe in "sacramentals" like holy water that lack the promise of God: rather, everything is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.

Therefore, the rite in our parishes will, of course, be somewhat different. Here is a short form, to be conducted before the Invocation from the entrance of the church, that includes one of the (very good) traditional prayers from the Latin Rite.

The Blessing of the Candles

Pastor: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.

Pastor: Let us pray. Lord Jesus Christ, true light that enlightens every man who comes into this world, bestow thy blessing + upon these candles, and sanctify + them with the light of thy grace. As these tapers burn with visible fire and dispel the darkness of night, so may our hearts with the help of thy grace be enlightened by the invisible fire of the splendor of the Holy Ghost, and may be free from all blindness of sin. Clarify the eyes of our minds that we may see what is pleasing to thee and conducive to our salvation. After the dark perils of this life let us be worthy to reach the eternal light through thee, Jesus Christ, Savior of the world, who in perfect Trinity livest and reignest, God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Sabre Nominations Still Open

Next week, during the Symposia at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, we at Gottesdienst have plans to announce the recipient of our prestigious Sabre of Boldness award, in the student commons after the Symposia banquet, on Thursday, January 23rd.
The Sabre ceremony is in its nineteenth year.  The list of recipients includes parish pastors, district presidents, bishops, some well known and some unsung heroes of the faith, and, as of last year, a lay woman. 
Nominations are invited.  The award is given “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on behalf of the Holy Church of Christ while engaged in the confession of His pure Gospel in the face of hostile forces and at the greatest personal risk.” Submit a nomination to Fr. Eckardt via e-mail or in person at the Symposia (until Tuesday, January 21st, when the slate will close).  State the name, address, and telephone number of the nominee and the reasons why he or she is a fitting choice for Sabre Bearer.  The degree of the adversity, steadfast resistance to pressures to compromise, heedlessness of threats, and a clear confession of faith are considered.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Women in Albs, Cinctures, and Stoles Appear to be Clergy

By Larry Beane

Here is yet another example of the witness to the world regarding the Christian doctrine of men and women and the theology of the Office of the Holy Ministry from a congregation of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, especially as evidenced by the caption under the picture in the article: "Pastor Roy Minnix and affiliated Clergy."

"and affiliated Clergy."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy, even all the while, those who allowed, encouraged, or bullied (whatever the case may be) these women to dress in this way might protest with a shocked (shocked!) look on their faces that anybody could possibly be scandalized: "But, but, they're not pastors, but, but, the stole is not worn over the shoulder, but, but, they're deaconesses (or deacons), etc. etc.

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

And we will hear the following from confessional pastors and deaconesses: "But, but, that's the Atlantic District..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, this is nothing new, it has been going on for years..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, the alb, cincture and stole are adiaphora..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, these women are just lay assistants who don't consecrate the elements..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

We'll hear: "But, but, they're not part of the Concordia Deaconess Conference..."

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

This is the confession made before the world when these pictures and articles are published, when no-one is reprimanded, when nobody in authority addresses the problem, when excuses are made by pastors and lay people all along the political spectrum, when our polity ensures that pastors and professors who even go so far as to openly advocate for women's "ordination" are protected by their district presidents, and where district presidents seemingly enjoy carte blanche because of our polity.

Is this the confession the pastors and congregations of the LCMS want to be placed before the Church and the world?  Is this how we respect our partner church bodies around the world who have suffered for making the good confession regarding the roles of man and woman in ministry and in the marital union?

Women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy.

Does that even matter any more?  Does anyone in a position of authority in our church body care?  Will they say anything about this?  Will they do anything about this?  Can they do anything about this?  Or is it just business as usual that LCMS women wear albs, cinctures, and stoles, and that women in albs, cinctures, and stoles appear to be clergy?

Is this what the response will be?