Monday, August 25, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014
Another great post over on Pastoral Meanderings by Pastor Peters:
"Wow! That is a lot to take for someone who has had only a passing association with church before!" So said one visitor to a Sunday morning Divine Service at my parish. She did not say it but clearly her comment meant "I wish the liturgy were more accessible" to a stranger to the church like me…
It would not be the first time someone has uttered those sentiments. It IS a great deal to take in for those who have not had much association with the church before. I will not deny it one bit. Neither will I suggest that it is a fruitful pursuit to try and find a way to dumb down the liturgy just in case there may be (and there always are) people who are strangers to the church and to the mass). I am sure it is overwhelming and even shocking. I would be disappointed if it were not — for what would it say of us if the Divine Mystery of Christ (both efficacious Word and Sacrament) were easy enough to get and dismiss out of hand!
I tell such folks not to make a judgment quickly but to return to the liturgy over and over again. Only then, with familiarity, can come the deep appreciation for the mystery and its grace bestowed upon us by Christ through His Word and Spirit. The liturgy is one of those things learned by doing as much as by studying.
If you are an avid reader of this blog, you know that I do not quote Aristotle — not ever — but one of his tidbits of wisdom certainly applies to the Divine Service:
Though some find it offensive that any person off the street, a stranger to God and His worship, cannot enter the church and feel perfectly at home, I find just the opposite offensive. If a stranger to God and His worship feels at home in the liturgy, there must be something wrong with the liturgy. The liturgy or mass is off putting — not because it is designed to offend but because it goes against all that the sinful heart values most — easy, comfortable, feeling oriented, self-centered pleasure. What is most disarming about the liturgy or the Divine Service is that it compels us to shed ourselves and to become focused upon and open to the work of the Lord through His means of grace. Such is the domain of the Spirit and not simply the training of the human heart but, that said, it is discipline whose value is learned by experience.
We tell parents all the time that the repetition of the liturgy is helpful to the child learning by the experience of it who God is, what He has done, and how He communicates to us the fullness of His grace and gifts. Would not the same be also true of adults who come as infants into the presence of God in the holy ground of the liturgy?
Hardly any sport is transparent or obvious upon first view. Watching the game being played is one of the most important ways we learn its rules and an appreciation for the sport. In the hospital we have interns and residents who continue their education by watching and doing — believing that this is the most effective way to train our doctors. Why do some insist that we must make worship cogent for and accessible to the unchurched who know little of God or His ways? Why do some visit once and presume that they have seen and learned enough to make a reasonable judgment against the church?
To the stranger come upon us, I say stay here long enough to get to know the liturgy. Study it and learn the faith from it, to be sure, but resist the great temptation to judge what you see or experience until you learn its words, its rhythm, and its tempo. To the parent worrying about a child growing distracted from or bored with the liturgy, I say hang in there. Children learn by doing and they are absorbing from the liturgy more than is obvious to you. Reinforce what happens in the Divine Service, to be sure, but do not reject what happens as they experience the church's liturgy and song over many years of growing up.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Delivered as a workshop at the Liturgical Institute at Valpo in April of 2014. Again, not a polished paper, but might provide some food for thought.
...I was going to go through and clean up this paper, but I never can find the time. So I'm posting it, blemishes and all. It is what I delivered at the Making the Case Conference in Collinsville last month:
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Mayes on Gerhard…
As Concordia Publishing House prepares to release the eighth volume in Johann Gerhard's magisterial Theological Commonplaces, the following interview with the series editor, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin T. G. Mayes, introduces Gerhard and his writing, and reflects on the place of this material in the 17th century and for pastors and scholars of the 21st century.
Who was Johann Gerhard and why is his work important?
What are the "theological commonplaces"? Why did Gerhard write this series?
As you work with this material translated from Latin, what have you found to be most challenging? What has surprised you most in the volumes so far?
This project is truly a team effort. Describe the roles of the people involved.
What benefits will a parish pastor derive from interacting with Gerhard's Theologocial Commonplaces?
Describe the value of the publication of this series for the scholar.
The forthcoming volume addresses sin and free choice. In addition to his constant dialogue with Robert Bellarmine, what other groups or theologians does Gerhard address?
Monday, June 16, 2014
A Christian lives his days with Christ and in comtemplation of Him.
His Days pass in remembering the sufferings of Jesus. When the clock strikes eleven, he knows that the bells are ringing in the noon hour of his Redeemer, when thick darkness overshadowed Him. In the afternoon at three o'clock, he breathes a greateful prayer of joy, for the Lord has finished. Every stroke of the clock calls upon him to consider what Christ did and suffered in that hour.
His Weeks are pictures of Christ's life. Sunday, at each return, is the brother of the Easter Day, the most joyful day of the week. It is preceded by days of repentance and suffering. Wednesday already brings the memory of the unholy bargaining of Judas with the high priests and murderers of Christ. Thursday divides his mind between the struggle in Gethsemane and the blessed institution of the Lord's Supper. Every Friday is a weekly "Good Friday." Every Saturday is a sabbath of the rest of Christ in the grave.
As in the week, so also the Year: it recalls the life, suffering and death of Christ, an ever new experience of what the Gospels narrate; itself a very Gospel of Christ our Lord.
--from Wilhelm Loehe's Seed Grains of Faith. p. 142, 143.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Dr. A. Andrew Das took some time to reflect on his Galatians commentary. Read on to learn what led him to this writing, what he thinks about modern Pauline scholarship, and how he hopes his commentary will be influential.
How did you become interested in studying Galatians?
What unique contribution does your commentary make?
How do you hope your commentary on Galatians will influence the ministry, preaching, and teaching of pastors?
What was the best part about writing your commentary?
About the Author
His articles have appeared in Journal of Biblical Literature, Journal for the Study of the New Testament,New Testament Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Concordia Journal, Concordia Theological Quarterly, and Logia, as well as in Paul Unbound (Hendrickson, 2010), The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (Abingdon, 2009), Reading Paul's Letter to the Romans (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), Unity and Diversity in the Gospels and Paul (Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), The Law in Holy Scripture (Concordia, 2004), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics (forthcoming), and The Oxford Handbook of Pauline Studies (forthcoming).
He was an invited member of the Society of Biblical Literature's Paul and Scripture Seminar and has presented at the Society of Biblical Literature; the African Society of Biblical Scholars; the Chicago Society of Biblical Research; the international Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, of which he is an elected member; and the Evangelical Theological Society. He is also a member of the Catholic Biblical Association of America and serves on the Holman Christian Standard Bible revision committee.
He received his M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary and did his graduate work at Yale University, Duke University, and Union Theological Seminary in Virginia. He served as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Lombard, Ill., from 2000–2002 and assisted as a pastor at St. John's Lutheran in Lombard from 2002–2004.