quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, June 06, 2014

on purity

Not purity, which is the saving work of Christ in Word and Sacraments, God's free grace in Christ for sinners. Not purity which is the work of the Holy Spirit, through the same means, in His sanctifying work among sinners, to make a holy Bride, the Church.

The purity of God can be misplaced or absorbed into the cultural and political views of His people, on both the right and the left. Altar, font and pulpit are diminished in favor of public activity and, ironically, it somehow then seems unethical for the church to be involved in ministry.

Although there have been hints in "false divides" (as opposed to keeping the whole) suggested in theological discussions online in recent years, I confess that I am blindsided by this new purity. Something is indeed doing its work, narrowing down the chosen to but a few, dividing congregations and even Christian families, destroying pastors and scattering the sheep. Where is this "purity" coming from? This legalism apart from forgiveness, life and salvation? This departure from the Body and Blood of Christ?

In the liturgy we pray regularly for the whole church on earth and for the enemies of the church. Come Holy Spirit!

Monday, May 19, 2014

idle thought

How can one tear down the idols? When class warfare is the fad, find contentment instead. When material success is the option of popularity, instead look beyond.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

liberally offensive

One explanation for bringing offense to people may be that the society is polarized and so everything becomes politicized thus making all views offensive in one way or another . . .

In my own particular church context, I find that one may theoretically offend everyone with liberal views. Let me explain with two examples:

First, I liberally hold to the belief that the Sacrament on the altar, or Eucharist, is the Body and Blood of Christ. The catechism of my church says the same thing in so many words. While this is the traditional view of the Eucharist, many Christians who call themselves "conservative" reject this view. Hence I call this a "liberal view."

Second, I liberally hold to the view that the Church has the freedom and right to hold to and teach distinct views on matters such as pro-life, marriage between a man and a woman, etc. When and where secularism, or culturally based Christianity, seek to impose other beliefs on the Church this imposes on religious freedom. Here I liberally depart from traditional "liberal" or "progressive" correctness.

Theoretically, or maybe realistically, one may bring offense to everyone. It's OK.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Lit Note

Lit. Note: I have been silent on liturgical renewal lately but liturgical renewal never really stops among Lutherans. In my ecumenical fervor I simply find that Lutheran hymnals work best among Lutherans. The new LCMS hymnal is called the "Lutheran Service Book." Over the years each of the LCMS hymnals have demonstrated strengths of different kinds. The "Lutheran Service Book" or "LSB" combines some of these strengths while omitting others. Still, an LCMS congregation in liturgical renewal will certainly use the hymnal, especially nowadays.

Feb. 24 - St. Matthias, Apostle.

Nota litúrgica: También, entre los hispanos luteranos, el uso de los himnarios es parte de la renovación litúrgica, una señal que la congregación toma como algo serio la pregunta de la misa.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

house cleaning and ancient languages

We are back to the blog's original title, "on church and liturgy" and its subtitle, "de ecclesia et liturgia", which is the title in Latin.

Speaking of Latin, it is assumed by some that one cannot believe that God has saved us through His Son, Jesus Christ, if one knows or supports Latin. While I am not proficient in Latin, I took three years of the language in high school and appreciate its value. Learning Latin has helped me, among other things, learn English vocabulary and grammar. If knowing some Latin makes me a bad Lutheran, "C'est la vie."

At seminary, I learned some Greek and Hebrew. Sharing this may be controversial. Then again, there is a positive side. In the liturgy we find all three ancient languages and more. For example, the Introit (Latin) is from the Psalms (Hebrew) and one of the oldest, if not the oldest, parts of the liturgy is the Kyrie (Greek). The faith is never old.

As I am not a linguist, nor overly proficient in these languages, there is nothing more to add, except that learning ancient languages does not make one out-of-date. Rather, it may be surprising how learning such things may help one to live in the present. While the faith is never old, there is also nothing new under the sun.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

thinking and praying

As I have written in the past, the central act of Christians together is the receiving of the Lord's Body and Blood following the hearing of the Scripture and preaching. This, I have usually addressed in the past in response to the change of some Protestant and Catholic forms of worship into entertainment ("contemporary", etc.) In recent years there is an equally dangerous devaluation of the central act of Christians together in a societal emphasis on dividing people according to class or social status, thus changing the liturgy into some form of advance of a particular understanding of justice. Both an entertainment model and a justice model are ultimately materialistic and man-centered. Both emphases lead away from the divine nature of the sacrament which is to benefit of both body and soul. In other words, both the conservative and liberal approaches, in their extremes, work against the uniting of believers at the altar. The Holy Supper is instituted by the Lord for us and is a Holy Communion with God and with those at the altar (i.e., baptized believers).

Moving away from this observation for a while, and paying more attention to such an undue creeping of "conservative" and "liberal" notions into the faith it becomes difficult to discern at times what is happening in both the society and the church. Different trends, emphases, forces, may be at work simultaneously pulling people in society and people within the church in varying directions. This is no less confusing to pastors. As a pastor I have struggled with these things and their effect on the church. Rather than approach this from a "conservative" or "liberal" dichotomy I have thought how one might be affected personally by all this. Here is a model that might help explain different and possibly simultaneously occurring influences using very simple categories of thinking and praying:

I. Encourages Thinking and Praying

II. Encourages Thinking and discourages Praying

III. Discourages Thinking and encourages Praying

IV. Discourages both Thinking and Praying

Obviously, the first is preferred and the last, while seemingly not a possibility, does occur from time to time. However, all of these seem to be part of the experiences of the believer in this day and age. For example, the academic might experience more occurrences of II while the pious might experience more occurrences of III. IV is to be avoided although circumstances might place one there from time to time. All four possible scenarios are understood in a greater context of the faith.

Hoping especially that the first scenario is more common and preferred we return to the altar where maybe prayer is more dominant although thinking is indeed part and both are connected to the divine mysteries of grace and salvation.