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quod pro nobis traditum est

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proficient in these languages, there is nothing more to add, except that learning ancient languages does not make one out-of-date.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.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Read on

Dear Readers,

Although I may not know some or many of you, thank you very much for reading this blog. This blog is a general collection of comments, quotations, etc., on various issues facing Christianity and the church's faith. Earlier this blog was ambitiously titled, "On Church and Liturgy" and reflected a time when my experiences as a pastor took me beyond the local congregation into questions facing my church body and Christianity in general. This blog has over the years unashamedly upheld a connection between "church" and the liturgy (or "historic liturgy") as a work of God in and through His Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Ghost. As such, much of what was shared here is not anything new. However, in this time and age, with the forgetting of the past, revisionism, and any other number of other reasons what is old "is" new because many simply have not heard these things before.

Current trends are working strongly against me and my work on this blog. There are the obvious secular forces opposed to anything of a religious nature which we all face on a daily basis. Then there are the "contemporary" movements which this blog has continually attempted to address. Understandably, within the greater Christian sphere, those who are not of the same religious background might find any number of things troubling about issues discussed here. Admittedly, there are also things written here that would be even controversial to my fellow Lutherans. I believe that much of Lutheranism has collapsed into a generic protestantism that has, in short, gutted the faith. This is reflected publicly and primarily in what goes on in worship (the liturgy) on Sunday mornings. My own lack of understanding might also make this blog troublesome to those of historic church background. This blog may also be a target for some of its moral stands, especially in the America of today. Although issues addressed here may be controversial to some, or even some positions I have taken over the years may be controversial they are written for the purpose of collecting my own insights and as an attempt to help the reader question the zeitgeist. Sort of a combination of growing and sharing.

These trends and factors all seems to be coming to a head and affecting my personal and professional life in unforeseen, yet likely, predictable ways. I do not know and understand all that is going on and how much more I will be able to contribute to this blog but I do hope to say here that I do not regret anything I have written here so far. Since much of what I have written here addresses matters that go beyond my own tradition, I fear that most of the opposition I face these days is likely from within the very tradition that nurtured me in the faith. In large part too I am ignorant of forces that might use my words against me. On the other hand, this is the risk one takes in having the freedom to share and write what is on one's mind. It is impossible to take this personally since there have always been and always will be forces working against church, liturgy, faith, etc. Whether intentionally or not, personal and professional factors may coincide to silence this blog or limit greatly what I have to share in the future.

Thank you very much for reading. In short, do not be surprised by any silence in the future. Keep on reading for reading's sake!

Best Regards,

Timothy D. May

Thursday, September 19, 2013

the chicken and the egg

. . .

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

"The family built upon marriage, and not upon the individual, is the basic unit of society. In fact, each family is a miniature society — analogous to a miniature state — out of which the larger political community is constructed. This is more than a theory; it is an historical fact: A country like Scotland is built upon the MacDonalds, the MacIntyres, the Robertsons, and so on.

"As G.K. Chesterton pointed out in The Superstition of Divorce, it is no coincidence that totalitarian regimes typically seek to weaken both the Church and marriage. The reason is precisely because both of these institutions claim to be independent societies with their own constitutions. Since they exist within the same territory as the state, from the perspective of a tyrant, they obstruct the extension of his own absolute authority.

"Now, if the family built upon marriage is the building block out of which the state is formed, the family is antecedent to the state . . ." [source: William Newton, newoxfordreview . org]

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

the Spirit's work

Although not surprising, in many ways the origin of the ministry has been lost among Lutherans. This may be due to emphasis on auxiliary offices and ministries, doubt in the pastoral ministry, or surprise expressed when it is discovered that the confessional writings grant that ordination may be called a sacrament. In short it may simply be the adoption of a general culturally influenced view which sees the ministry merely in functional terms. Hence, the related erroneous supposition that the ministry arises from a vote of a local assembly, that is the authority of ministry is man-made.

For pastors who are put on the defensive because of the confusion caused by these views and/or by those who clearly hold these types of views in a dogmatic fashion against their pastors, there is encouragement that the pastoral ministry is neither man-made nor apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. First, it may be added that the pastor still has the Holy Spirit given him in Holy Baptism. However, in terms of the peculiarity of the ministry, among the many God-given vocations, there is the peace which the risen Lord gave to the Apostles and the gift of the Holy Spirit he gave them for the retention and the forgiveness of sins (John 20). Also, there are Paul's words of encouragement to Timothy where the young pastor is reminded of the "gift of God" he received when the Apostle put his hands upon him (2 Timothy 1; i.e., ordination). The Holy Spirit of the risen Lord is passed on through the laying on of the Apostle's hands. Indeed, this is a Scriptural phenomenon that may not be easily discounted.

Although Lutheranism is weakened by the loss of the knowledge of the origin of the ministry among us it is encouraging for pastors to know that we need not look to others for assurance when the origin is from the Lord himself and the ministry itself is the Spirit's work. Considering that this gift involves the retention and forgiveness of sins then it is no wonder the reformers said it may also be called a sacrament.

Monday, August 19, 2013

when news is now news

For years Christians have been and are being killed overseas because of their religious beliefs. Since this is not broadcast on the major networks it is not news. In the last week or so, major news networks have drawn attention to the killing of Christians, the burning of churches and the burning of sacred texts. The Coptic Christians, or "Copts," are of one of the oldest church bodies of Christianity. In the last week or so, this has become a news story. We look beyond our coexistent reality and our emphasis on the religion of peace and see what is really going on.