Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Preparing For Sunday School

I apologize ahead of time for the lack of a decent post this week. I’m out of town and stuck in a rat trap hotel trying to put together my Sunday school lesson. Needless to say, that task will certainly be keeping me busy.

This Sunday we start our study on the Confessio Augustana. Last week our vicar gave a history lesson on the politics and the different theological battles going on that led up to the reading of the Augsburg Confession in 1530 at the Diet of Augsburg.

Where do we start? Why, at the beginning of course:

Article I: Of God

1] Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; 2] that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and 3] yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" 4] they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.
5] They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil: also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. 6] They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created in things.

Yep, I’m going to have fun!

Lutheran Carnival LIX

Lutheran Carnival LIX is up and running at Full Throttle and an Empty Gas Tank!! The Carnival gives us a quick look at John Behnken, a former president of the LCMS. Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Disgruntled World Citizen for doing such a great job hosting!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How Sunday School Class Can Cause Sleep Loss!

Ok kids, I’m going to give you a few simple tips to help you wreck havoc on your Sunday school teacher’s sleep schedule. I’m sure you little ragamuffins know all sorts of way to deprive said teacher of sleep, but I’m certain with my recent experience, this will do the job in the most efficient manner possible.

1) Get a Facebook account and say you are interested in relationships with either men or women.
2) Get a Facebook account and say that you are an atheist.
3) Make sure in Sunday school class that you tell all the less informed slack jawed yokels that Christianity is nothing more than an amalgamation of a bunch of ancient religions.
4) Make sure you mention that all religions, both ancient and modern, including those made in America ones, have equal merit in our discussions during Christian education hour on any given Sunday morning.
5) Be sure to bring up the fact that in your three or four years of high school that you have done exhaustive interviews with your Mormon friends and they “don’t exactly” think they will become gods of their own universe, only that they will become gods. After all, those are different, aren't they?
6) Remind your teacher that any talk of absolutes and condemnatory statements against heterodoxy and within the context of a Sunday school class will only make you angrier than you already are.

Remember to do all these things and you will succeed in making sure that your teacher is so frustrated that he will not be able to fall asleep until one in the morning, a whole three and a half hours after he went to bed.

Remember, that which keeps your teacher from sleeping are those same things he has been trying to teach you for the past few years that you now seemingly reject. He knows it is not in his power to impart any kind of saving faith to you. He was serious when he said that he believed Scripture when it states that it is faith by the grace of God in Christ given to us undeservedly by the Holy Spirit that save us from our deserved fate. He was also serious when he said Scripture teaches that we do have the capability to harden our hearts and reject that same faith. He believes that too and therein lies his sleeping problem.

You see, when you reject those same doctrines which Scripture so clearly lays out, he will lose sleep, and a lot of sleep at that. In spite of all that you have confessed which speaks against Scripture and attacks the Church, your teacher is not losing sleep because he is angry with you. He is losing sleep because he is so filled with sorrow that you, whom he considers a member of his family, may be lost and there is nothing he can do about it.

So there you go kids, have at it. And remember, if you do the job right, your Sunday school teacher may even lose sleep a second or third night depending on how well you did your job.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Last Supper…For Rats?

Hey, check this out.

Finally there is a poison that will be the last supper for those poor rats, Ratacide.

Uh, wait a minute here, is anybody going to tell the Mortein folks that, with the picture they are patterning their pest control on, Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, that we should only expect two dead rats out of the thirteen rats attending that supper? That’s only a fifteen percent kill ratio! I’ll stick to the good old fashion traps myself. Maybe the good folks at Mortein should stick to more traditional methods of advertising, at at least hire a theologian worth a darn. While I applaud them for the effort but they still receive a failing grade for content.

Hmm, is it just me or does that sixth mouse from the left look like a little feminine?

Monday, September 10, 2007

One Of These Things, The Answer

Now it’s time to answer my own question and tell all you good folks where I was going with my One Of These Things... and One Of These Things... Part Duex posts. Before I give you my answer, let me just say that you folks that read (and can somehow make out and comprehend) the dribble I write are awesome. Only one commenter fell for the “trick question” and that wasn’t even for the post I intended to be the punch line. We’ll get into that a little later in the next post though.

The one of these things that wasn’t like the others in my first post was picture number 1. All of the pictures but number 1 are of rock concerts. Number 1 is of an event that is meant to be a worship and praise service for youth.

Most of you knew where I was going with this because of previous posts. I've asked the question before and I'll ask it again, if something has to be explained as church to youth is it really church at all? My thought is almost always no, it usually isn’t church if it needs explanation. That kind of reasoning is reserved for art and in my humble opinion, is always suspect.

How many kids come back from national gatherings (this applies to all Christian denominations, not just LCMS) walk into the sanctuary, and wonder why they have to sing hymnody reverently and are not able to throw balloons and beach balls around as part of the Divine Service. How many kids wonder why, if they feel so inclined, can’t just break into dance during a Sunday morning service, again, if they feel so inclined? What are kids to think when they can’t receive the same emotional high because the music is not loud enough nor are the songs sung playing on the local contemporary Christian music station? How many kids will look for a new church given the chance when told by modern day Schwarmerei who bow their knee to those living in purple palaces, that they are the best the church has to offer only to return to a congregation that says Christ offers all and did all? This playing on the emotions of youth, I would argue, makes it difficult for the same youth to make any identification with church if in fact one exists or existed at all.

Back when the Augsburg Confession was written the old Lutherans were accused of trying to reinvent or abolish the Divine Service (back then it was called the Mass). This simply wasn’t true. In Article XXIV 1-9, confesses;

Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]. And not only has Paul commanded to use in the church a language understood by the people 1 Cor. 14, 2. 9, but it has also been so ordained by man's law. The people are accustomed to partake of the Sacrament together, if any be fit for it, and this also increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. For none are admitted except they be first examined. The people are also advised concerning the dignity and use of the Sacrament, how great consolation it brings anxious consciences, that they may learn to believe God, and to expect and ask of Him all that is good. [In this connection they are also instructed regarding other and false teachings on the Sacrament.] This worship pleases God; such use of the Sacrament nourishes true devotion toward God. It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us

The article goes on to condemn various Roman church’s practices using Scripture as the rule and norm not false doctrine held up by tradition. I know what some of you are already thinking; “but Frank, see, church tradition isn’t the rule and norm, the Bible is! As long as they hear the Bible, they are in church, so your argument has already fallen apart.” On the surface that does appear to be the case. But those who think that missed the part of Article XXIV that says certain ceremonies are needed to teach young and old bronze agers alike that our practices should reflect and even promote the theology given to us in Scripture.

Many of the people that I’ve talked to, both young and old, prefer that our youth attend a worship service that looks like a rock concert always seem to point out what an emotional event a national gathering was for both the ragamuffins as well as themselves. That’s fine. I am certainly not going to say that a tear has never rolled down my cheek during the singing of a hymn, more that once this happened to yours truly. However, Christianity as experiential spiritualism shouldn’t be a reason for attending what we put forth as a national event.

If we as Christians look for an emotional high, we are only looking inward and we’ve taken our eyes off Christ and his cross. Emotions are human and for that reason, emotions can lie and can be manipulated. The whole reason we do what we do in the historic liturgy is to focus on Christ and His gifts. Nothing that we feel will change what Christ has done for us and continues to do for us when we gather as a congregation.

For the record, I speak from experience on this matter. This is why I’m so passionate about Word and Sacrament being the center of the church and why I believe it’s so important to properly catechize youth. When I was growing up, I too looked for that elusive high I felt outside of church. That led to me spending fifteen years as an atheist because I couldn’t distinguish an emotional event from God’s gifts.

If one teenager or child has to have it explained to him or her that the purpose of a youth gathering worship service, whether it be a national Lutheran gathering or that little Baptist church on the north side of town, is not an “uplifting and emotional” experience but the administration of God’s gifts, then we all did something wrong. When we do this, we knowingly or unknowingly, emotionally manipulated our children into thinking that God’s gifts are dependent on how they feel.

Next post I’ll explain the reasoning for my choice for the One Of These Things, Part Deux post.

Lutheran Carnival LVIII

Lutheran Carnival LVIII is now up and running at The Moose Report. Please stop by, say howdy, and thank Rachel for all her hard work getting the carnival together.