Monday, January 31, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I believe one of the reasons we have "worship wars" among American Christians is that it has been a long time since we have had physical warfare on our own soil. 9-11 was close, but even that was dominated not by the theology of the cross of Christ, but rather by a sense of the national therapy of Oprah.
Consider this poignant picture above of the ruins of a bombed-out church in Germany, where amid all the chances and changes of this life, the one thing that people could hold onto is the liturgy of the Church, the Mass, the real physical communion with the real physical Lord.
Notice what you don't see: entertainment. There is no gyrating chanteuse working the microphone like a Vegas performer, a spotlight shining on a grimacing drummer, a perfectly-coifed guitarist wearing the latest fashions, or a trendy prancing made-up motivational speaker with gelled-up hair and a plastic smile emoting in overly-dramatic hushed intonations.
Instead, we see a celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, and two servers, all reverently and historically vested, each stationed in his proper order, proclaiming by their very placement that no matter how unpredictable and desperate things may get in this war-torn existence, Jesus is here, week in and week out, in the midst of our pain and uncertainty. And the Church is here, century in and century out, bearing the Good News by proclaiming Christ crucified, the eternal Word of the cross. And even amid the rubble and missing walls and blown-out windows, the old stone edifice of the church building, even in its humiliated state, carries a reverent gravitas of which the latest and greatest multi-million-dollar "worship centers" are bereft.
And at the center of it all is the chancel. There is no stage, big screens, lasers, or sound system paraphernalia, but rather a simple but elegant book containing the liturgy and the Word of God, dignified candles flickering with the soft glow of the flames reminiscent of the Day of Pentecost and silently confessing the Son as "light of light, very God of very God." And of course, the Holy of Holies is the stone altar, anchored like the rock of St. Peter's confession amid the gravel of a desperate world, the marble slab upon which one finds the Cornerstone, the Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, the mystery of the Lord's Presence for the forgiveness of sins given by means of the simple creatures of bread and wine.
By contrast, "contemporary worship" is a sad and spiritually impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity that is more at home in a sterile strip mall or a vacuous night club than in the gritty real world inhabited by real people who suffer real pain and who need a real saving encounter with the real God.
That is why we need real worship.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The response to Daily Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal has been overwhelming. In fact, the publisher notified me that DDSB received second place in their December sales contest. Not bad for a book aimed at an admittedly niche market: the liturgical Lutheran pastor. I am very gratified that the book is proving useful to so many of my colleagues in the ministry.
Several users of DDSB have mentioned how much they have benefited from the rubrics included with the Ordinary of the Common Service – and yet I had wished to include much more. Hampered by considerations of length, I included only the Ordinary with rubrics for the Celebrant and lay server. I had wanted also to include rubrics for an ordained clergyman serving as Deacon as well as vesting and preparation prayers.
All of that information as well as an appendix with the full ceremony of the Celebrant and Deacon from a 19th century Western resource is now available in DDSB: Rubrics and Prayers for Celebrant and Deacon. The complete contents of this 73pp book are:
Prayers of preparation for the Celebrant and his assistants
The vesting prayers
The Ordinary with Rubrics from DDSB
The Ordinary with Rubrics for Celebrant and Deacon
A Preface that includes instructions for adding a Sub-Deacon and certain roles of the Bishop where appropriate
An Appendix with the full traditional ceremony of the Deacon and Celebrant from Ceremonial according to the Roman Rite, A+D 1859
Charts illustrating the order of processions
I am offering this resource in paperback, an open flat coil-bound format, and as a downloadable file. I think that it will be most useful in the electronic format as this will allow pastors to print out the Ordinary with rubrics in a size suitable for use in a binder at the altar and in color (the cost of color printing is simply too prohibitive in the book formats – like DDSB, this supplementary volume includes the rubrics in gray rather than ruber in the paperback and coil-bound editions). However, some may find it useful to order the coil-bound edition for use on a missal stand or the paperback edition for desk reference.
If your parish does not currently celebrate the Easter Vigil, make that your new year's resolution for 2011. To help you in this regard, I've pulled out the Easter Vigil section of DDSB as a stand alone ebook that you can size and print as you like. I'm also offering it as a saddle stitched booklet. As with all of DDSB, what I'm really doing is just making available to you the resources I myself have found lacking. I'm planning on buying several of the saddle stitched booklets to keep on hand for all of the assisting clergy and lay servers at our annual Vigil.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Liturgical Parish Life
Practical Workshop for Seminarians
Opus Dei Student Organization
Thursday, February 3rd
Beer, Snacks, Conversation: 9:00pm-??
Opus Dei has invited Rev. H. R. Curtis for an evening of practical instruction and conversation about living out the Lutheran liturgical heritage in a real flesh and blood congregation. Pastor Curtis is Online Editor for Gottesdienst: A Journal of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy and the editor of Daily Divine Service Book: A Lutheran Daily Missal, the only daily missal in English available in the Lutheran tradition.
The How and Why of the Traditional Ceremonies of the Lutheran Divine Service
Why ceremony? * What ceremonies are indicated by Ap. XXIV.1? * Why and when do we bow, genuflect, sit, stand, and make the sign of the cross? * Conducting the traditional ceremonies with LSB, TLH, or LW * The Common Service vs. the post-Vatican II services , etc.
Participation is free and is open to the entire campus community.
Pre-Registration is appreciated so that enough copies can be made: pastorcurtis at gmail dot com
Participants are encouraged to bring their copies of Daily Divine Service Book which can be purchased at www.lulu.com – email pastorcurtis at gmail dot com for coupons and more details.
Also available at the workshop for $5:
Liturgical Parish Life Resource CD
A CD-ROM with scores (170+ MB) of practical pastoral resources for the first years of ministry including: Bible studies, marriage counseling program, complete liturgies, extensive bibliographies, important articles in contemporary theology, evangelism resources, etc.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The ceremony, which followed the Concordia Theological Seminary banquet, was held at the La Quinta Hotel in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Gottesdienst Sabre of Boldness columnist Chaplain (Colonel) Jonathan Shaw made introductory remarks to explain what the Sabre was, using several battle images of faith from the Psalter. He then introduced Gottesdienst chief editor Rev. Dr. Burnell Eckardt, who spoke further on the award and its meaning (see the text of his remarks below), and then announced the nominees and the winner, Pres. Saunders, who was present to receive the award. Pres. Saunders also spoke briefly to the crowd following his reception of the award.
There were seven other nominees: Pastor Rob Jarvis, of Minnesota, for his confessional convictions for which he has endured severe hardships, and following which he has come down with cancer; Bishop Roland Gustafsson and Auxiliary Bishop Matti Valsanen, both of the Mission Province in Sweden and Finland, for their strong confession in the face of the hostile Scandinavian Church and the hardships they have endured due to that confession; Rev. Jonathon Fisk, for his faithfulness in spite of parish hardships, and his boldness in his Internet confession of faith in his Worldview Everlasting videos; Rev. Ari Norro of Finland, for enduring “discrimination” penalties of the Finnish Supreme Court because he refused to acknowledge women as pastors; Rev. Olav Lyngmo of Norway, for his stance against homosexuality against the church body and a civil trial which ruled against him, resulting in personal hardships; Rev. Michael Grieve of Illinois, for his continued faithfulness in the face of perpetual grief from one of the congregations of his dual parish.
Here follows the text of Dr. Eckardt’s remarks:
“This is the sixteenth annual Sabre of Boldness ceremony. That means we have been at this since 1996, when some of the seminarians here were in fifth grade.
“It all started out rather like an illegitimate child: over drinks in a dimly lit hotel room at a Holiday Inn not far from here. It was conceived in a spur-of-the-moment bit of rather spontaneous and reckless thinking, as many of you are already aware; and for all intents and purposes nothing was really expected to amount from it, as is the case with all one-night . . . events. And the award itself is the child of the editors of Gottesdienst, a disreputable crowd by their own standards, to say nothing of the standards of the folks who perambulated the high places in St. Louis in those days. It bears remembering that the double-entendre of the S. O. B. award has always meant that its recipient, for all his boldness in the faith, is likely already to have gained for himself a kind of notoriety not generally sought after, placing him in the lower ranks, among the sons of . . . men.
“The Sabre of Boldness really should not have survived. It had too much going against it. Not only did its origin suggest trouble for it; there were calls for it to be set aside, even from among people we admire. Friendly fire, as it were. It has been, to borrow a phrase from Paul Simon, slandered, libeled, it’s heard words it never heard in the Bible.
But, to borrow another phrase, from blessed saint Paul, behold, it lives! It’s sixteen, going on seventeen! – to borrow yet another phrase, from Oscar Hammerstein.
“The list of recipients over the past fifteen years contains some pretty illustrious names, too. It includes a District President (Rev. Edwin Suelflow), a Lutheran Hour Speaker (Dr. Wallace Schulz), a renowned theologian (Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn), and Bishop Walter Obare of Kenya, to name just a few. The current bearer, The Right Reverend Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn, is president of the Lutheran Church of Ghana. So the award has people, as they say.
“Back in 2006, when we gave the Sabre to Bishop Obare, his reception of it was immediately hailed by members and friends of the Mission Province in Sweden, which he supports, and a Swedish press release declared that ‘The Sabre of Boldness is given annually to a Lutheran who has taken a stand for the Gospel in a courageous manner and thereby has encountered threats and persecution’; and then there’s this: ‘Gottesdienst is the journal of the Missouri Synod.’
“I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall at the IC in St. Louis, when they first got wind of that one. ‘What? Who?? How could Gottesdienst have replaced our prized Lutheran Witness and The Reporter all in one day? How has this happened? Who are these renegades, who appointed them to speak for us, and why are copies of this confessional rag showing up everywhere? Hey! You there! What are you doing spreading copies of Gottesdienst in this building? Hey! Come back here! Hey! Heyyyyy!’
“I’m also reminded of a lecture by the Professor Dr. Kurt Marquart, of blessed memory, back in 2005, in which he sought to explain what Gottesdienst means. The Gottesdienst eds were sitting together near the back of the room, and I remember seeing heads at once turning in our direction to get our reaction; which suggested to me that our journal has succeeded to some degree in debunking even Dr. Marquart’s definition, simply by virtue of its popularity. Why, Gottesdienst does not simply mean worship! It’s the name of this journal! Who cares what else it means!
“And of course it’s this journal which has produced the Sabre, which has produced fifteen recipients to date.
“But this award is not about us or about them, really. It’s about all the unsung heroes of the faith which are routinely missed, in the handing out of awards. There’s a little lapel pin we give to the recipient, because we don’t have the cash to hand out real sabers, and the pin has two crossed sabers: one for the recipient, and the other for all those heroes who go unmentioned, because we don’t know them. They confess the faith, they persist, they don’t back down, and for it they suffer. In some cases the suffering is quite physical, such as North Korea, China, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Sudan – places you should all add to your congregation’s Sunday prayer list – where people are brutalized and killed by angry mobs who cannot abide their Christian confession. In other cases, it’s more subtle, though no less real: the loss of livelihood or the threat of it, the loss of friends or status, or the loss of reputation, something the catechism tells us is one of the worst things you can lose. They get the sniffed-at treatment, the turned up noses, the complaints that they are evil, malignant, or insufferable, all because they would not compromise the faith they knew to be right, in the face of sometimes tremendous pressures from without and within. They’re people like Moses, with enemies like the sons of Korah, who rise against them and say, “You take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: why then do you lift up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?” And like Moses, they humbly suffer such abuse, and perhaps wish they could be somewhere else, or do something else, but they know that they cannot be unfaithful to their Lord. And they’re all over the place, indeed all over the world, and they silently suffer for their faith. And we salute them all tonight.
“That’s what the Sabre is about, really. But we do like to choose one bearer, to carry it, as it were, each year, on behalf of them all.”
Bearers of the Sabre
2011 The Reverend Dr. Brian Saunders
2010 The Right Reverend Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn
2009 The Reverend Juhana Pohjola
2008 The Reverend Aaron Moldenhauer
2007 The Reverend Dr. Ronald Feuerhahn
2006 Bishop Walter Obare
2005 The Reverend Edward Balfour
2004 The Reverend Charles M. Henrickson
2003 The Reverend Dr. Wallace Schulz
2002 The Reverend Erich Fickel
2001 The Reverend Dr. John C. Wohlrabe
2000 The Reverend Peter M. Berg
1999 The Reverend Gary V. Gehlbach
1998 The Reverend Dr. Edwin S. Suelflow
1997 The Reverend Jonathan G. Lange
1996 The Reverend Peter C. Bender
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
"The 'Contemporary' Choir: The Future is Now" or "For the Love of All That is Sacred, Make It Stop!"
This is why Gottesdienst is needed now more than ever...
Where does creation find expression within the worship life of the church and its liturgy? Consider the church year. Where does creation receive attention? Currently, the first half of our church year rightly focuses on the life of Jesus. The second half of the church year focuses on the life of the church. These correlate with the second and third articles of the creed. But where does the first article of the creed (God's ongoing activity in creation) find a place within the church year? After all, without it we cannot properly grasp Scripture's account of redemption in Christ. We wouldn't have to call it "Earth Sunday." We could call it "Creation Sunday" or have a "Season of Creation." For that matter, how do our worship practices and rituals express our connection to creation as well as our care of creation? After all, practices often embody our values and our visions about what it means to live a fully human life.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
A strange turn of phrase is found in today's devotional reading from To Live With Christ by Bo Giertz (translated from Swedish into English by Richard Wood and Bror Erickson:
"The Divine Service Jesus experienced in the synagogue was the basis for the Swedish high mass without communion" (page 103).
The word commonly translated as "High Mass" from Swedish is actually an amalgamation of "High Mass" and "God's Service" (German: Gottesdienst). In Swedish the whole word is: Högmässogudstjänst.
But the idea of a "Mass without communion" is not only an oxymoron, it is also a concept as alien to the Lutheran Confessions as the "Non Communion Sunday" - a creature that ought to exist, like the unicorn, only in myth. But the rarification of the Holy Sacrament among Lutherans is not limited to Americans and Germans, as it also infected the Nordic churches as well - in spite of their overall greater emphasis on the catholic tradition of Lutheran ceremony and rite.
Our own American version, of course, comes from The Lutheran Hymnal, page 5, a service known officially as "The Order of Morning Service Without Communion," but also bearing the affectionate unofficial moniker: "The Dry Mass."
But how can it be a Mass when there is no Mass?
I can't read the words "High Mass without Communion" without calling to mind Uncle Remus's paradox: "How can there be a tale, when there ain't no tail?"
Monday, January 10, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Epiphany Announcement, A+D 2011
After the Reading of the Gospel, the Pastor of the parish makes the following announcement.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever manifest itself among us until the day of His return. Through the rhythms and changes of time let us call to mind and live the mysteries of salvation.
The center of the whole liturgical year is the Paschal Triduum of the Lord, crucified, buried and risen, which will culminate in the solemn Vigil of Easter, during the holy night that will end with the dawn of the twenty-fourth day of April. Every Sunday, as in a weekly Easter, Christ's holy Church around the world makes present that great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death.
From Easter there comes forth and are reckoned all the days we keep holy: Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten spring, the ninth day of March; the Ascension of the Lord, the second day of June; and Pentecost, the twelfth day of June; the first Sunday of Advent, the twenty-seventh day of November.
Likewise in the feasts of Mary, of the apostles, of all the saints, and in the commemoration of the faithful departed, the pilgrim Church on earth proclaims the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
To Christ who was, who is, and who is to come, the Lord of time and history, be endless praise forever and ever!
Monday, January 3, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
By Larry Beane
The 2011 calendar from Concordia Theological Seminary has just arrived.
Above is the picture for March. The caption reads: "Rev. Steve Ahlersmeyer shares a children's message at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana."
Well, let me get this disclaimer out of the way up front: 1) I do not know Pr. Ahlersmeyer, and I have no reason to doubt his orthodoxy, integrity, and faithfulness as a pastor, 2) I have the utmost respect and affection for CTS, from which I graduated in 2004. CTS - Fort Wayne openly promotes liturgical worship, the use of the hymnals, eucharistic vestments, processions, bowing and the sign of the cross, the chalice, and even on occasion, incense - both in chapel services and classroom instruction. CTS is blessed with an extraordinary faculty of world class scholars and a campus that is the envy of theological schools the world over, and is doing an exemplary job in its mission of training pastors, both from America and from abroad.
I don't understand why CTS would advocate for such a practice as a "children's message" - a ritual lacking not only in our hymnal and its resources, but also in the Lutheran liturgical tradition. This is precisely the kind of liturgical innovation that our Symbols decry. While many faithful pastors are stuck with such local customs and have to roll back such things gradually and with a lot of teaching - why would CTS even consider depicting a pastor sitting with his back turned to the altar which is only a few feet away, buttocks planted square in the chancel area, with a paper bag and what seems to be a puppet with which to entertain a child who has become the center of a kind of stage show?
Our professors painstakingly explained why the liturgy is not entertainment, why choirs are best located in the loft, why vestments hide the man, why liturgical innovation is a bad idea, why preaching is a sacred act, and why the altar ought to be treated with reverence - but for 31 days of the current year, CTS is asking its alumni, supporters, and members of LCMS congregations to put this picture up in a prominent location, at least partially, for the purpose of promoting the seminary. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.
I just don't get it.