Thursday, March 31, 2011

IE 24 Returns!

A Couple More . . .

"Don't worry dude, having women pastors doesn't mean you have to start wearing a pink robe on Sunday morning. Oh wait, you totally already do that."
Yep - except it's not pink; it's ROSE! :)   And, I'll be wearing it this Laetare Sunday:

Japan Relief Update

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More Lutheran Satire Vids

Promises made to enhance dialogue and work toward unity:

Not THAT KIND of "Lutheran":

Gotta love when someone brings complaints from "some people":

Lady Gaga Mass? Seriously?

Last week, as I was catching up on blogs and various Lutheran forum discussions (something I've been limiting of late), I came across a link to a video from a "Lady Gaga Mass."  I thought it was a joke.  Turns out, it wasn't.  This was an actual "service" held at St. Aidan's Episcopal "Church" on Transfiguration Sunday.  "Pastor" Megan Rohrer rewrote the words to some of Lady Gaga's hit songs and employed these rewritten songs as liturgical elements throughout the "mass."  You can read about this here and here.

How any Christian could possibly think something like this would be okay is beyond me.  I mean, really, really, really beyond me.  Talk about profaning the Name of the Lord!  Can it get much worse than this?  Kyrie, eleison!

Here are a couple of videos from the "Gaga mass" - the first one shows "pastor" Megan leading the people in the Prayer of the Church, which is set to the Lady Gaga song "Bad Romance"; the second one is the rewritten "communion liturgy" set to the tune "Telephone":

And . . . Jesus wept!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Great Article . . .

over at Higher Things in response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami. 

Update on Japan Relief by Pres. Harrison

Please continue to pray. And, please consider donating. You can do so by going to this page and clicking on the "Help Today" button, or by calling (888) 930-4438, or by mailing a check (noting "Disaster Relief" in the memo line) to:
LCMS World Relief and Human Care
P.O. Box 66861
St. Louis, MO  63166-6861

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lord, Have Mercy!

Click here for resources and to learn how you can help.  

Almighty God, merciful Father, a very present help in time of trouble, again we are brought to realize that Your thoughts are not our thoughts, Your ways are not our ways.  In Your wisdom You have permitted the disastrous earthquake and tsunami to be visited upon Japan and surrounding nations.  We implore You, let not the hearts of Your people despair, but sustain and comfort them.  Heal the injured, console the bereaved and afflicted, protect the innocent and helpless, and deliver any who are still in danger, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beautiful Ash Wednesday Homily . . .

by Pr. Weedon here. I don't know how he manages to pack so much into such a short homily, but wow - simply awesome! Enjoy.

Blessed Lent from Pres. Harrison

"Lent is a time for serious repentance, a time to get on our knees," says Pres. Harrison, who wishes us a Blessed Lent and invites us to pray the Litany daily with him in the video below:

I intend to take Pres. Harrison up on his invitation and plan on beginning each day throughout Lent by praying the Litany.  I hope many more will join in.  To that end, here is an excellent post to accompany Pres. Harrison's invitation by Pr. Paul McCain:  How to Pray the Litany:  Text and User's Guide.

Ashing Our Way Into Lent

Today, we begin the holy and penitential season of Lent, our 40-day journey with our Lord Jesus Christ to the Cross and Empty Tomb.  It's a season set aside in the Church Year for self-examination, fasting, repentance, and prayer, a time in which God's baptized people have their hearts cleansed, prepare for the paschal feast of Easter, and have their zeal in faith and life renewed.

The journey begins with the Ash Wednesday Divine Service.  Our congregation, like many others, will assemble in silence this evening.  The Prelude, Ringing of the Bells, and Opening Hymn, which usually begin the Divine Service, will be omitted.  Instead, the silence will be broken with the following Ash Wednesday Address:
P:  Dear brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ, on this day the Church begins a holy season of prayerful and penitential reflection.  Our attention is especially directed to the holy sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
From ancient times the season of Lent has been kept as a time of special devotion, self-denial, and humble repentance born of a faithful heart that dwells confidently on His Word and draws from it life and hope.
Let us pray that our dear Father in heaven, for the sake of His beloved Son and in the power of His Holy Spirit, might richly bless this Lententide for us so that we may come to Easter with glad hearts and keep the feast in sincerity and truth.  
Then, we will pray the Litany together:
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: God the Father in heaven.
C: have mercy.
L: God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: God the Holy Spirit,
C: have mercy.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Spare us, good Lord.
L: Be gracious to us.
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: From all sin, from all error, from all evil;
From the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death;
From pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and from rebellion;
From lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water, and from everlasting death:
C: Good Lord, deliver us.
L: In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment:
C: Help us, good Lord.
L: We poor sinners implore You
C: to hear us, O Lord.
L: To rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living;
To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived;
To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To raise those who fall and to strengthen those who stand; and to comfort and help the weakhearted and the distressed:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To give to all peoples concord and peace; to preserve our land from discord and strife; to give our country Your protection in every time of need;
To direct and defend our president and all in authority; to bless and protect our magistrates and all our people;
To watch over and help all who are in danger, necessity, and tribulation; to protect and guide all who travel;
To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings; to defend all orphans and widows and provide for them;
To strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children; to free those in bondage; and to have mercy on us all;
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve for our use the kindly fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers:
C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.
L: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
C: we implore You to hear us.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: have mercy.
L: Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
C: grant us Your peace.
L: O Christ,
C: hear us.
L: O Lord,
C: have mercy.
L: O Christ,
C: have mercy.
L: O Lord
C: have mercy. Amen.
Then will follow The Imposition of Ashes, where the penitents will come forward and kneel at the altar rail to have their foreheads marked with ashes in the sign of the + cross by the pastor, who says to each, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," which is a stunning reminder of our need to be cleansed and purified from our sins and a repentant expression of submission and humility before God, our Creator.

After all have received the ashes, we will make our way through the Rite of Corporate Confession and Absolution, which concludes with the penitents again coming forward to kneel at the altar rail, where the pastor will absolve them individually, laying his hands on them and saying, "In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Then, the Divine Service will continue in the usual fashion, as we make our way through the Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament.  But, this special and unique Service of Preparation, including the Ash Wednesday Rite, provides a wonderfully austere way for the faithful to begin the Lenten journey.  I'm very much looking forward to it!

A blessed Lententide to all!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Receptionism and the Lord's Supper

Yesterday, I listened to a fantastic interview on Issues, Etc., featuring Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, pastor at Memorial Lutheran in Houston and 5th Vice President of the LCMS, on the topic of Receptionism and the Lord's Supper.  We were just talking about this very topic last Sunday during Adult Bible Study.  There is a lot of confusion out there regarding this topic, and I really believe that the practice among Lutherans surrounding the Lord's Supper over the years has had a negative impact on how Lutherans view the Supper, and has allowed the false teaching of Receptionism in.  Ceremonies teach, after all.  Our Confessions are right about that.  And, when our ceremonies give the impression that the Body and Blood of Jesus are only present in the bread and wine when people eat and drink, as if the Body and Blood is not present the moment our Lord Christ speaks His Word through the pastor over the elements and doesn't remain present until everything is consumed, well, people are going to believe just that.  And, when they believe that, many abuses surely follow.  If it's only the Body and Blood upon eating and drinking, there is no reason to adore the Lord Jesus Christ upon the altar, nor does it matter what you do with the reliquae (what remains after the Distribution).  But, that's simply false.  The moment our Lord says, "This is My Body," it is.  Likewise, "This is My Blood."  Thus, are we right to adore Him upon the altar and to kneel before Him at the altar rail to receive Him.  This is why I also believe it is beneficial to elevate and genuflect during the consecration.  Ceremonies teach.  These particular ceremonies leave no doubt that the celebrant is confessing the Lord's Presence and teach the faithful accordingly.  No, I'm not saying that the celebrant has to elevate and genuflect, just that these are helpful and beneficial ceremonies, especially in our day and age when there is much confusion out there about this, not to mention the numerous abuses which have arisen because of this confusion - abuses like throwing used individual cups into a bucket with the Lord's Blood in them, or mixing consecrated wafers with the unconsecrated and putting both in a Jiffy jar in the cabinet in the sacristy, and so forth.

Anyway, enough blathering on.  You can listen to this excellent and very informative interview below.  There is also a link to an excellent paper written by Dr. Murray, well worth your time to read.

You ARE Being Fed!

"I'm just not being fed."  This is the complaint many people utter when they become dissatisfied with their church, for one reason or another.  Usually, people who complain about "not being fed" really mean to say that the church is not meeting their expectations or "felt needs."  It rarely has anything to do with them being fed or not.

This is especially obvious when people lodge this complaint from within a traditional, liturgical Lutheran congregation, where the Holy Word and Sacraments are delivered faithfully and reverently on a continual basis.  It is not that they are not being fed; it is, rather, that they long for a different meal.  This can only be due to the fact that they do not understand what actually takes place in the Divine Service - or have forgotten.

In the Divine Service, our Lord comes into our presence, as He promised ("Lo, I am with you always"), to feed His flock with the richest of Foods.  He first serves us with His Holy Absolution upon the confession of our sins, assuring us that our sins are forgiven and forgotten.  Simply delicious!  Having been forgiven of our sins, we enter the sanctuary of our Lord, singing the Introit (Psalm, Entrance Hymn) and pleading with Him to have mercy upon us in the Kyrie, to which our appetite is further quenched with the glorious song of the angels, wherein we hear that we have received the mercy for which we plead in the Incarnate Son of God, born into our flesh to bear our sins and be our Savior (Gloria in Excelsis).  Scrumptious!  Next, we petition our Lord in the Collect (Prayer) of the Day to strengthen our faith, and He responds by filling us with the sweet honey of His Holy Word (Old Testament, Epistle, Gradual, Holy Gospel, Sermon).  Divinely delectable!  Already, our hunger is more than quenched.  Already, in the Service of the Word, we have been well fed by our gracious Lord.  But, with the Lord, there is always more!

So, He prepares a Table for us and invites us to dine of the Fruits of His Cross, which is our Tree of Life, serving us with His very Body and Blood, the Manna from heaven which sustains us as we make our way through the wilderness of this sinful world.  No gourmet meal in the world can compare with this richest of Feasts!  Our Lord prepares us for this Meal of meals by inviting us to pray for the whole people of God and for all people according to their needs in the Prayer of the Church, and by reminding us that He is Really Present among us in the Preface, Proper Preface, Sanctus, Lord's Prayer, and Verba, to which we respond with the words of St. John the Baptist and with the cry of faith in the Agnus Dei, "O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us."  You simply can't get any more fed than having Jesus Himself fed to you!  Thus, do we sing with blessed Simeon in the Nunc Dimittis, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation . . ."  We are simply stuffed full of Jesus at this point.  But, again, with the Lord, there is always more!

Having received the Holy Meal of His very Body and Blood, He sends us on our way with His peace and with His blessing in the Benediction, assuring us that He has strengthened us and is with us as we go back out into the world.  If we are not stuffed full with the delicious Food our Lord provides us in the Divine Service by the time we hear the Benediction, we must have an eating disorder, for there is surely nothing wrong with the Menu or the Waiter.  You cannot possibly faithfully receive the rich Food our Lord serves up in the Divine Service and "not be fed."  If you still feel hungry, it is not because you haven't been fed.  Either something is amiss with your faith or you are longing for a different kind of "food."

The beauty of the Divine Liturgy is that it guarantees that you are fed by your Lord.  Even if the pastor's sermon is especially bland that day, or the organist goofs up, or the choir doesn't sound the greatest, or you don't feel especially "inspired," and so forth, you can rest assured that your Lord has fed you - and fed you well!  He always shows up to serve you with His Gifts.  He is always faithful.  He always feeds His flock in the Liturgy.  You are never, ever "not fed" in the Divine Service!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Greek Tuesday

Even though this is a few weeks late, since all the really cool Lutherans follow the historic, one-year lectionary and are now basking in the joys of Gesimatide, there is some great stuff here on the Transfiguration of Our Lord. :)

Lutherans and E.A.C.H.

Below is an introductory video and an overview of a new pan-denominational outreach initiative/movement/program that hundreds of congregations in the Metro Detroit and Downriver areas are planning to commence this Easter.  The initiative/movement/program is called E.A.C.H. (Everyone A Chance to Hear).

I learned about this last week from a friend on FB, whose non-denominational congregation is gearing up to participate in this endeavor.  This friend excitedly exclaimed:  "I'm so excited that our congregation is going to be a part of this massive effort to win people for Jesus!"  This friend went on to explain how small groups in the congregation are being trained to "share the story of Jesus with people, so that they will accept Him into their hearts as Lord and Savior."

I didn't respond to this friend.  I've learned the hard way not to try to debate theology on FB.  So, I just blew it off.

But, then, just yesterday, I received a message from a Lutheran friend, who informed me that her LCMS congregation recently announced that they were going to be involved with E.A.C.H.  Huh?  What in the world is an LCMS congregation doing involving itself with this "Revivalistic Evangelism" endeavor?  Such involvement sends the message that the enormous theological differences between Lutherans and "Americanized Evangelicals" are, at best, minor and inconsequential, and, at worst, non-existent.

It is understandable that Americanized Protestants and "Evangelicals" would involve themselves in this sort of evangelistic project.  It's right up their theological alley.  Tell people about Jesus, encourage them to make a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior and, if you can get them to say that "Sinner's Prayer" with you, voila, you just won yourself a soul for Jesus.  Been there, done that.  Have a few t-shirts to prove it. 

But, Lutherans should know better.  Shouldn't they?  I mean, we're not talking about joining with other Christians to do acts of mercy in their surrounding communities here.  We're talking about joining with other Christians to "win people for Jesus."  We're talking about joining with other Christians who have developed special "message series" and "training series" built upon "decision theology" and geared toward their false understanding of evangelism.  We're talking about joining with other Christians who have bought hook, like, and sinker into the Satanic principles of the "Church Growth Movement," many of whom have created "churches for people who hate church" and have turned worship into entertainment.  We're talking about joining with other Christians who emphatically deny that God works solely through His means of grace - His Holy Word and Sacraments - to create and sustain faith.  We're talking about joining with other Christians who have no concept of the distinction between the Kingdom of the Right and the Kingdom of the Left, believing that they solve Metro Detroit's economic and societal problems through strategic and intentional "evangelism."  How can Lutherans sign up for this?  They really should know better.  Shouldn't they?

The video and overview:

Everyone A Chance To Hear
  • Collaborating together with all the evangelical churches in our region . . . 
  • Having blanketed our efforts in substantial prayer . . . 
  • Using every good strategy available to us . . . 
  • Having trained our people to be ambassadors for Christ in their world . . .
  • For Forty Days beginning with Easter 2011 . . .
We will attempt to give everyone in our region (over 3.5 million people) a chance to hear the message of Christ and to take the 'next step' in their spiritual journey.

Mission Statement:  Working together as a body of believers, we will give everyone in the Metropolitan Detroit area a chance to take the next step in their journey toward Jesus.

Lord willing, this will be the widest and most effective evangelistic campaign in the history of Michigan.  The goal is not simply to give every person multiple chances to connect with the message of Christ; but also . . .
  • To see tens of thousands come to faith in Christ . . . 
  • To see churches and church leaders working together as one body . . . 
  • To see substantial growth in our existing churches . . . 
  • To see momentum in the planting of many new churches in our region . . . 
  • To permanently alter the spiritual landscape of Southeastern Michigan . . . 
  • To make a statement to a watching world:  Detroit IS rebuilding, and JESUS is the foundation of our comeback!
From the 2010 Time Magazine Annual Edition:

Opening sentence:  "Detroit has become an icon of the failed American city."

Closing sentence:  "The world is now watching Detroit with interest - and waiting to see if it finds a way to rise from the ashes."

The time is now to show a watching world that Metro-Detroit has found a way to rise from the ashes . . . and that 'way' is more than inner-city green spaces and smarter cars.  That 'way' has something to do with the Lordship of Jesus in this region.  And the only way the Lordship of Jesus is going to be felt in our region is if the church rises up to its mandate to boldly tell the world its message and give everyone a chance to hear it and respond to it.

E.A.C.H. Steering Committee