Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Altar Call - Greatest Hits

I found this at fellow blogger Eric Carpenter's website, A Pilgrim's Progress.

My personal favorite: C'Mon (The Extended Remix).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why We Use the Liturgy...

Great read about Lutheran liturgy by Rev. Cwirla...

Top Ten Reasons Why We Use the Liturgy
By The Rev. William Cwirla
(posted at Higher Things

Why the Liturgy? First a definition and a disclaimer. By “liturgy” I mean the western catholic mass form as it has been handed down by way of the Lutheran Reformation consisting of the five fixed canticles – Kyrie, Gloria in Excelsis, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. Pardon the Greek and Latin, but it sounds cool and we still use ‘em. “Liturgy” also includes the assigned Scripture texts for the Sundays, feast days, and seasons. Most of what I will say about the liturgy of the Divine Service will pertain to “liturgical worship” in general.

Now, why do we worship according to the western, catholic liturgy?
  1. It shows our historic roots. Some parts of the liturgy go back to the apostolic period. Even the apostolic church did not start with a blank liturgical slate but adapted and reformed the liturgies of the synagogue and the Sabbath. The western mass shows our western catholic roots, of which we as Lutherans are not ashamed. (I’d rather be confused with a Roman Catholic than anything else.) We’re not the first Christians to walk the face of the planet, nor, should Jesus tarry, will we be the last. The race of faith is a relay race, one generation handing on (“traditioning”) to the next the faith once delivered to the saints. The historic liturgy underscores and highlights this fact. It is also “traditionable,” that is, it can be handed on.
  2. It serves as a distinguishing mark. The liturgy distinguishes us from those who do not believe, teach, and confess the same as we do. What we believe determines how we worship, and how we worship confesses what we believe.
  3. It is both Theocentric and Christocentric. From the invocation of the Triune Name in remembrance of Baptism to the three-fold benediction at the end, the liturgy is focused on the activity of the Triune God centered in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Worship is not primarily about “me” or “we” but about God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself and my baptismal inclusion in His saving work.
  4. It teaches. The liturgy teaches the whole counsel of God – creation, redemption, sanctification, Christ’s incarnation, passion, resurrection, and reign, the Spirit’s outpouring and the new life of faith. Every liturgical year cycles through these themes so that the hearer receives the “whole counsel of God” on a regular basis.
  5. It is transcultural. One of the greatest experiences of my worship life was to be in the Divine Service in Siberia with the Siberian Lutheran Church. Though I spoke only a smattering of Russian, I knew enough to recognize the liturgy, know what was being said (except for the sermon, which was translated for us), and be able to participate knowledgeably across language and cultural barriers. I have the same experience with our Chinese mission congregation.
  6. It is repetitive in a good way. Repetition is, after all, the mother of learning. Fixed texts and annual cycles of readings lend to deep learning. Obviously, mindless repetition does not accomplish anything; nor does endless variety.
  7. It is corporate. Worship is a corporate activity. “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” The liturgy draws us out of ourselves into Christ by faith and the neighbor by love. We are all in this together. Worship is not simply about what “I get out of it,” but I am there also for my fellow worshippers to receive the gifts of Christ that bind us together and to encourage each other to love and good works (Heb 10:25). We are drawn into the dialogue of confession and absolution, hearing and confessing, corporate song and prayer. To borrow a phrase from a favored teacher of mine, in church we are “worded, bodied, and bloodied” all together as one.
  8. It rescues us from the tyranny of the “here and now.” When the Roman world was going to hell in a hand basket, the church was debating the two natures of Christ. In the liturgy, the Word sets the agenda, defining our needs and shaping our questions. The temptation is for us to turn stones into bread to satisfy an immediate hunger and scratch a nagging spiritual itch, but the liturgy teaches us to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
  9. It is external and objective. The liturgical goal is not that everyone feel as certain way or have an identical “spiritual” experience. Feelings vary even as they come and go. The liturgy supplies a concrete, external, objective anchor in the death and resurrection of Jesus through Word, bread, and wine. Faith comes by hearing the objective, external Word of Christ.
  10. It is the Word of God. This is often overlooked by critics of liturgical worship. Most of the sentences and songs of the liturgy are direct quotations or allusions from Scripture or summaries, such as the Creed. In other words, the liturgy is itself the Word of God, not simply a packaging for the Word. Many times the liturgy will rescue a bad sermon and deliver what the preacher has failed to deliver. I know; I’ve been there.
Ten is one of those good numbers in the Bible signifying completeness, so I’ll stop at ten. I’m sure there are more.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Tree of Life With Ev'ry Good

A beautiful new hymn that was introduced to me by my wife.  It was sung during the distribution of the Lord's Supper last week.  (Unfortunately I missed going to the Divine Service last week).  The hymn is written by Pr. Stephen Starke.  A beautiful hymn of justification and Christ's work on the cross...

The tree of life with ev'ry good
In Eden's holy orchard stood,
And of its fruit so pure and sweet
God let the man and woman eat.
Yet in this garden also grew
Another tree, of which they knew,
Its lovely limbs with fruit adorned
Against whose eating God had warned.

The stillness of that sacred grove
Was broken as the serpent strove
With tempting voice to Evil beguile
And Adam too by sin defile.
O day of sadness when the breath
Of fear and sadness, doubt and death,
Its awful poison first displayed
Within the world, so newly made.

What mercy God showed to our race,
A plan of rescue by His grace
In sending One from woman's seed,
The One to meet our greatest need -
For on a tree uplifted high
His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread
To crush the ancient serpent's head.

Now from that tree of Jesus' shame
Flows life eternal in His name:
For all who trust and will believe
Salvation's living fruit receive.
And of that fruit, so pure and sweet,
The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find within this cross of wood
The tree of life with ev'ry good. (LSB 561)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.   (Revelation 22:1-2)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Will of God...

The following is a devotional from Higher Things.  A wonderful reminder who actually does the will of God...

August 14, 2011 - Sunday of the Eighth Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Matthew 7:15-23
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just because you call Jesus Lord doesn't mean you're in. Whoa! Wait a minute! What does THAT mean? It means simply this: Not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is. So how do you know? How can you be sure? Jesus says that everyone who does the will of His Father will enters the kingdom of heaven.
Okay. Checklist time. Do you love God above all things? Do you love your neighbor as yourself? Don't lie. That's God's will. Have you done it? If not, don't get all and say, “Lord, Lord!” to Jesus.
But Jesus tells us also that God's will is that we believe in the One whom He sent, that is, believe in Jesus. And here we begin to realize that the doing of God's will is not something we'll ever be able to do. It is something that must be done for us, otherwise we're doomed. Or, to put it another way, if you call out “Lord, Lord” because you think you've done God's will, you're in trouble. But if you call out “Lord, Lord,” because only the Lord can save you then you have the promise of a Savior.
First of all, Jesus did the Father's will. All of it. He loved the Father perfectly. He loved others perfectly, even giving His life for ours. He obeyed the Father's will to save sinners. He obeyed and kept every Law and commandment. That is Jesus doing the Father's will. The will of God is that those who don't keep His Law are doomed. So Jesus did that, too, when He suffered for our sins and died for them. Then He rose again, defeating death.
Now He still carries out that will by the Spirit who has brought you to faith in the waters of Holy Baptism and who keeps you saying, “Lord, Lord” the right way by the words of Absolution and the Supper of Jesus' body and blood.
In accomplishing salvation and delivering it to you, Jesus is doing the Father's will. And because you are in Him, you have done the Father's will. And your “Lord, Lord” is the confession of a Savior who won't let you down. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Grant to us, Lord, we implore You, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we, who cannot do anything that is good without You, may be enabled to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen. (Collect for Trinity 8)

Friday, August 5, 2011