Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today's Quote Of The Day From Luther On Worship

Today's quote of the day comes from Dr. Luther commenting on worship:

[Worship] is not a function of the mouth but of the whole body. It is to bow the head, bend the body, fall on the knees, prostrate one’s self, and so forth, and to do such things as a sign and acknowledgement of an authority and power; just as people bow in silence before secular princes and lords, and just as popes, bishops, abbots, and people generally, have themselves honored and adored [ehrbieten] by bowing and kneeling, and so forth. Such outward adoration [ehrbietunge] is what the Scriptures really mean by worship [anbeten]…. We read in the Scriptures that worship [anbeten] or adoration [ehrbieten] is rendered outwardly both to God and to kings without distinction, just as bowing and kneeling are still rendered outwardly both to God and to men.

From this understanding of outward worship you will understand what Christ meant by true spiritual worship. It is the adoration or bowing of the heart, so that from the bottom of your heart you thereby show and confess yourself to be His subordinate creature. For from this you see that true worship can be nothing else than faith; it is faith’s sublimest activity with respect to God. For no one is capable of such heartfelt confession, adoration, bending, and bowing (or whatever you want to call it) before God in his heart, unless he unwaveringly holds God to be his Lord and Father, from whom he receives and will receive all good things, and through whom, without any merit on his part, he is redeemed and preserved from all sins and evil.

-Martin Luther, “The Adoration of the Sacrament” in vol. 36 of Luther’s Works, American Edition

Monday, September 27, 2010

So, What Are The Rubrics For Liturgical Thundersticks During Worship?

So, what are the rubrics for when Christian’s gather to worship and wish to incorporate the use of “thundersticks” into worship? Does anybody know? I can’t find the required rubrics anywhere in the Lutheran Service book! Why is that?

First we need to define some terms…

Rubrics are according to the Lutheran Cyclopedia are “Directions for conducting services; the name is derived from the red ink often used for them, in distinction from the text of the service, in black ink.” Another way of putting that is that the rubrics tell us how to conduct the Divine Service so that everything moves and is conducted in an orderly fashion. There have been rubrics governing the conduct of the Divine Service since God instituted congregational worship in Leviticus. If you think that Leviticus is nothing more than a bunch of rules for an Old Testament Israel to follow then the rest of this post will not make any sense whatsoever. Just sayin’…

Thundersticks according to Wikipedia are “sometimes known as cheerstix, bangers or bambams, are long, narrow plastic balloons that are used as promotional noise makers. The noise is created when two thundersticks are struck together. They are most often used at sporting events, political rallies and concerts.

Worship was defined by the reformation era Lutherans as the gathering of the faithful where the marks of the Church were present, that is to say, where the people could go to hear the Word preached purely and the Sacraments administered rightly. The center of the Christian’s spiritual life has always been the gathering together for worship and this is why our confessions point to the “marks” for the very definition of what the Church is.

So, back to my question… what are the rubrics for when Christian’s gather to worship and wish to incorporate the use of “thundersticks” into worship? Maybe I need to explain why I’m asking the question to begin with.

At July’s National Youth Gathering one of the mass events featured thundersticks used en masse (pun intended) by both those leading the service as well as by the kids. As I have been set straight by one of the workers for the mass events that “were not considered a "worship service," but were considered worship” I think it’s only fair that we make certain that our kids don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the use thundersticks during worship is in any way similar to their use in baseball or football games.

It is crucial that we teach our children that order in worship should be of the utmost importance and that rubrics help facilitate such order. How can expect our children to return to their grandfather’s church and those dusty old hymnals if we don’t take the liturgical use of thundersticks seriously and write rubrics for the time-honored use of these joyful noisemakers?

To not properly incorporate thundersticks into the worship life of our congregations through ordered rubrics would simply turn our worship services into something resembling pagan sporting events and profane the holy things of the Church. We don’t want that do we? No, we don’t.

It’s all about setting an example for our children it is.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A New Video from Pastor Fisk: Lutheranism for Attractive People

Pr. Jonathan Fisk from over at Worldview Everlasting answers more email and addresses predestination, devotional materials, and how to talk with your friends.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time Out Episode 84

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out: Time Out, Episode 84 posted.

The Scripture reading for this episode is Mark 7 with commentary from the Kretzmann Commentary Series. The hymn this time is “Who Trusts in God A Strong Abode” found on page 714 in the Lutheran Service Book.

Dan makes the case that “Mark 7 has all sorts of Gospel goodness in it. First Christ calls out the Pharisees for setting up rules that actually get in the way of hearing the word of God and obeying it. He then, by His word, declares all foods clean. Third, the faith of the Gentile receives the word of the Lord and responds according what is promised to you and me so that her daughter may be relieved of a demon. Finally, through his word, “Be opened!” He makes the deaf-mute hear and speak.”

The hymn “Who Trusts in God A Strong Abode” is a proclamation of security. Jesus’ saving merit is our hope and consolation, our defense against what we encounter in this life.

Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job on Time Out, Episode 84!

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Out Episode 76
Time Out Episode 77
Time Out Episode 78
Time Out Episode 79
Time Out Episode 80
Time Out Episode 81
Time Out Episode 82
Time Out Episode 83

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Study Of The Te Deum With Pastor Wil Weedon On Issues, Etc.

Issues, Etc. had a great segment on Monday with Pastor Wil Weedon of St. Paul Lutheran-Hamel, IL study the Te Deum, one of the Christian church’s most ancient hymns of praise. I hope everyone will take some time out of their day and listen to Pastor Weedon walk through this marvelous hymn that is so strong theologically that Martin Luther thought it should be one of our creeds. Listen here.

The Te Deum is one of my absolute favorite hymns and I enjoy singing it once or twice a month during the Order of Matins on the Sundays. While the Stephan Starke setting of the Te Deum used on the show is not my favorite setting, I couldn’t help but smile and sing along as the verses were being played while on my way home in the car last night.

Here is the text for one the greatest sung confessions on this side of eternity and the other side of eternity as well if Pastor Weedon is correct in his sanctified speculation (and I have no reason to think otherwise!):

Te Deum Laudamus

We praise you O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord;
all the earth now worships you, the Father everlasting.
To you all angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein;
to you cherubim and seraphim continually do cry:
Holy, holy, holy Holy Lord, God of Sabaoth,
heaven and earth are full of the majesty of your glory.
The glorious company of the apostles praise you,
the goodly fellowship of the prophets praise you,
the noble army of martyrs praise you,
the holy Church throughout all the world does acknowledge you:
the Father of an infinite majesty, your adorable, true,
and only Son, also the Holy Spirit, the counselor.
You are the King of glory, O Christ.
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When you took upon yourself to deliver man,
you humbled yourself to be born of a virgin.
When you had overcome the sharpness of death,
you opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that you will come to be our judge.
We therefore pray you help your servants,
whom you have redeemed with your precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It’s All About The Verbs With Pastor Fisk’s Video

Pr. Jonathan Fisk from over at Worldview Everlasting asks one of my favorite questions: "who's running the verbs" and answers email with another awesome video

Thursday, September 16, 2010

When Did We Stop Praying For Pastors?

If anyone noticed in my last post that the prayer for pastors seemed a little bit old school in the language department, then rejoice in your winning of a coveted POTF no-prize. I’ll be sending out the POTF no-prizes as soon as everyone who has won the award gives me a call and leaves me their address. I trust everyone to be honest and claim the no-prize only if you actually have won the award.

The occasion for my post was my own pastor’s tenth anniversary as pastor of our small town parish down here in the haut south just last Sunday. I couldn’t ever thank my pastor enough for being a faithful servant of the Word even if I tried really, really hard. It just isn’t possible as I’ve tried time and time again. I always seem fall short.

Being a pastor is often a thankless job that a goodly number of people take for granted while at the same time expecting him to be there every time their children go into the hospital to get their tonsils yanked out, we lose our jobs, or have to bury our family members or beloved pets We ask more of our pastors sometimes than we should and thank then all too infrequently for their efforts if ever. We demand their undivided attention and politely thank them for attending yet one more of the twenty-five plus boards that we “request” that they attend while ignoring how little time we afford the to be with their own families. Sometimes I think we make work for our pastors because we take the joke of the only working one day a week entirely too seriously. What we should be doing instead is making it as easy as possible for them teach and prepare for the right preaching and teaching of God’s Word in the Divine Service as this is (or at least should be) their primary calling. I wish more folks remembered that. I wish I remembered that more often than I do.

While we sometimes butt heads on trivial matters, my pastor and I are of one mind on what it means to be confessional, Lutheran, and Christian. I thought this was as good as time as any to post something to publicly thank him for being my pastor; for week after week putting the words of Jesus in my ears and the Body and Blood, the medicine of immortality, in my mouth. I wanted to thank him and I just couldn’t find the words. Everything I tried to write just fell short, again.

Nor was it possible to thank my pastor’s immediate predecessor, an interim pastor who I loved as if he were a member of my own family, who had to deal with me as an enthusiast, a former atheist who thought he knew it all when he knew nothing. Words once again failed me, again.


I decided to open up my hymnal and post a prayer from the Lutheran Service Book, the official hymnal of our beloved Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there are NO prayers for our pastors in the prayers and intercessions section of the hymnal! What the heck?! There are prayers for an increase of holy ministry and a generic prayer for church workers but there are none for our faithful and steadfast pastors who serve the Christ’s Church week after week as they are called to do.

So, when was the last time a prayer for our faithful pastors was included in our hymnal? Well, depends on which hymnal you look at to answer the question. The Lutheran Hymnal had not one but three prayers for our pastors. The Lutheran Book of Worship which the LC-MS was involved in formulating, but ultimately didn’t endorse (although they were more than happy to accept royalties form the sales, go figure…), had dropped the number of prayers down to one for our pastors. When Lutheran Worship came out in 1982 the prayers for our pastors were gone completely and did not return when Lutheran Service Book was adopted in 2004.

At first I thought that maybe the prayers for our pastors were put in the agenda but a quick call to our secretary confirmed that this wasn’t the case either. As it turns out, The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 was the last hymnal endorsed by our beloved synod that included a prayer for an office instituted by Christ Himself. That is a very sad commentary on how we view and care for our pastors.

It is depressing that there are hymns like "On Eagles Wings” (whose sole reason for being included in the Lutheran Service Book has to be so that unionistic/syncretistic scout cults can sing something out of our hymnal during their award ceremonies so as to feign orthodoxy and gain acceptance within the Christian worldview) which waste an entire page in our hymnal while a simple prayer for those who are charged with taking care of and feeding Christ's sheep can’t be squeezed in. This is nothing less than disappointing!

I think that the Lutheran Service Book is far superior hymnal than Lutheran Worship or even The Lutheran hymnal. I just think it is a darned shame that we think so little of our pastors as to not bother to include a simple prayer thanking God for their faithful work

As a service to everyone who does not has copy of The Lutheran Hymnal, here are the three prayers for our pastors that can be printed out and snuck into your Lutheran Service Book. And next time you pray for Christ’s Church, include one of the prayers below to thank the Lord for your faithful pastor.

Almighty and everlasting God, who alone doest great wonders, send down upon Thy ministers and upon the congregations committed to their charge the healthy Spirit of Thy grace; and that they may truly please Thee, pour upon them the continual dew of Thy blessing,; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.

Almighty and gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast commanded us to pray that thou wouldest send forth laborers into Thy harvest, of Thy infinite mercy give us true teachers and ministers of Thy Word, and put Thy saving Gospel in their hearts and on their lips that they may truly fulfill Thy command and preach nothing contrary to Thy holy Word, that we, being warned, instructed, nurtured, comforted, and strengthened by Thy heavenly Word, may do those things which are well pleasing to Thee and profitable to us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord.

O almighty God, who by Thy Son, Jesus Christ, didst give to Thy holy Apostles many excellent gifts and commandedst them earnestly to feed Thy flock, make, we beseech Thee, all pastors diligently to preach Thy holy Word and the people obediently to follow the same that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord

Oh, one more thing… boy howdy this is just ripe with irony… when you go to church this Sunday, stop by your church’s office and ask to see the mailing that from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Commission on Ministerial Growth & Support reminding us that October is Clergy Appreciation Month and highlighting October 17th as Clergy Appreciation Sunday. From the mailing:

"We ask you brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their word ..." (1st Thessalonians 5:12-13)

The mailing includes a list of "simple acts that feed a shepherd" a primer I’m told on what we are supposed to do to take care a pastor. The first item on the list is "Pray for your pastor. Ask God to shower your pastor with an abundance of love, hope, and joy, as he pursues the activities of ministry for you and your family."

I couldn’t agree more. I just wish someone on the Commission on Worship thought the issue was important enough to throw us a scrap of a prayer when putting out the Lutheran Service Book.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Prayer For Pastors

A prayer for pastors through whom the faithful hear the very words of Jesus Christ and receive His blessed sacraments:

Almighty and gracious God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast commanded us to pray that thou wouldest send forth laborers into Thy harvest, of Thy infinite mercy give us true teachers and ministers of Thy Word, and put Thy saving Gospel in their hearts and on their lips that they may truly fulfill Thy command and preach nothing contrary to Thy holy Word, that we, being warned, instructed, nurtured, comforted, and strengthened by Thy heavenly Word, may do those things which are well pleasing to Thee and profitable to us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord.

From The Lutheran Hymnal

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Difference Between Lutheran And Calvinists

So, do you know the difference between a Lutheran and a Calvinist? I know that sounds like a joke but it’s not and the answer has something to do with flowers according Pastor Jonathon Fisk over at Worldview Everlasting.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Today’s Quote Of The Day From John Warwick Montgomery

Today's quote of the day is from John Warwick Montgomery:

"The New Testament documents must be regarded as reliable sources of information...the documentary attestation for these records is so strong that a denial of their reliability carries with it total skepticism toward the history and literature of the classical"

"History and Christianity" (San Bernardino, CA: Here's Life Publishers 1983) p. 43

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Another Way To Evaluate Hymns

Just so ya’ll don’t think it’s just me… here’s Pastor Tom Chryst’s excellent list on evaluating hymnondy to be sung during the Divine Service:


1. Is it Christian? If a Jew or Mormon or Buddhist could sing the song without pause, it is likely not a Christian song.

2. Does it mention Jesus (Christ) by name? Titles such as Savior and Lord are not wrong, but songs/hymns are most clear when the proper name is used. It leaves no room for confusion.

3. Does it mention the cross? Or does it speak nebulously about God’s love apart from this central teaching?

4. Does it balance Law and Gospel? (Especially troublesome is if Gospel is absent)

5. Does it suggest salvation has to do with my work, decision, commitment or heart, or does it rather make clear that we receive everything as a gift from God alone?

6. Does it rightly show our good works as a response to God’s good work in Christ, or does it leave the impression God justifies us in response to our action? Could it give such an impression?

7. Does it specifically teach some false doctrine (like the Rapture, for instance)?

8. Does it refer at all to the Means of Grace (Word and Sacraments of Baptism and Communion)? Or does it suggest we receive from God apart from such means?

9. Does it make prayer into a sacrament (which offers grace)? Does it suggest a certain prayer must be prayed to invite Jesus into our hearts? (Decision theology)

10. Is it scriptural? There should be a strong scriptural connection, rather than lofty and abstract concepts tied to no particular text.

11. Does it present a corporate view of the church, or does it overly emphasize the importance of the individual? (Us/We vs. I/Me) “Me-and-Jesus” music should be avoided.


1. Is the music beautiful?

2. Is the tune appropriate to the text? Does the “mood” fit?

3. Is the music inappropriately difficult for the singers?

4. Does the tune carry “baggage” (i.e., a familiar Christmas tune should not be used in Lent. Likewise certain secular tunes have strong associative ideas we might want to avoid)

5. Does the music “play on the emotions”? This should be avoided.

6. Is the music reverent?

7. Does the music have a timeless quality, or is it too strongly associated with a narrow style?

Pastor Chryst, who is an associate pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Racine, WI, is an excellent and faithful preacher whose sermons and general musings can be found at Preachrblog. His blog has long been favorite read of mine as are his appearances on Issues, Etc.