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Thursday, November 23, 2006 

Asparagus And Jelly Donuts

Preparing to look at the synods new hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book, my pastor for the past few weeks has been going over the history of the Divine Service as it has evolved from the very beginnings of Christianity. I’m sure that some folks were genuinely shocked to find out that Jesus did not use page 15 from the Lutheran Hymnal. Sure there was laughter at the comment, but I know that the statement offended a few. These are the same people that say that if the King James Bible was good enough for Jesus… well, it should be good enough for us.

What had me ready to jump up and down for joy was an even more offensive statement; “Amazing Grace is not a good hymn.” Yep, my pastor actually said it. I really, really didn’t think he was going out on that limb. But to his credit, with the aged bronze squirming in their seats, he laid out why some “beloved” hymns are the theological equivalent of jelly donuts.

As the point was made in the class, most of us like donuts. While I don’t like jelly donuts, a good cake donut is really hard to beat. But is there any real nutritional value to donuts? No! And what kind parent will actually let their child make a meal of four or five donuts? A bad mommy and daddy, that’s who.

Now, a good parent will not let their little ragamuffins away from the table without eating all their vegetables. The children may not like asparagus, but it is good for them and they do need all the vitamins contained therein to grow up big and strong. It is an example of bad parenting to let the children hide their veggies in a napkin, under their plates, or worse yet, inside of Snowball the family beagle.

If we can all agree that veggies are a necessity for health, and that donuts, while they are good, are nothing more than a desert, why do we expect less out our spiritual foods.

The song “Amazing Grace” didn’t even make it into our Lutheran hymnals until 1982 when Lutheran Worship came out. That’s right folks; it wasn’t in the Lutheran Hymnal! Truth be told, it didn't even make it into the hymnal suppliment for the Lutheran Hymnal. The old Lutherans looked at songs like Amazing Grace and declared them the theological equivalent of jelly donuts. There was no mention of Christ anywhere! There is no mention of the means of grace, that is to say Word and Sacrament. There is nothing in Amazing Grace that a Buddhist couldn’t sing. “Amazing Grace” is one big jelly donut.

We, and I’ve said this before, should sing hymns that teach and confess our faith. We should sing back to the Lord a sung confession. We should sing the very doctrines the Holy Scriptures have given us. We should sing those hard to sing, Greek, Latin, and reformation era hymns that define what it means to declared justified by faith alone in Christ. We need to sing asparagus.

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What you call 'Jelly Donuts', I refer to as 'The Fluffy'. LOL

And real jelly donuts (I prefer glazed old fashioned) are partly the reason I can't lose my title of 'Largest Filipino on Earth'.

Hymns should bring joy, not pain. Their purpose is to uplift the spirit and praise God; not punish by being, well, asapargus. If "Amazing Grace" fills your heart with joy and love in the Lord, then you should sing "Amazing Grace".

I guess the main problem is that people simply don't know what hymnody is for, don't know the definition of "praise." It's not to encourage warm fuzzies and feelings of upliftedness. It's to proclaim the Gospel, to let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us. If things that are devoid of the Gospel and the Word of Christ (like "Amazing Grace") seem to be "filling our hearts with joy and love in the Lord," there are other issues there that need to be dealt with.

Terrible Swede, Your kung fu is strong, but I question your taste in donuts. A kung fu master knows that donuts shouldn't have any filling at all. If one must relent and insert some filling into said donuts, a rich custard can be used as an exception to the rule.;-)

You might be amazed - a little Grace now and them would do you good -

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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