Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Liturgical Seminar in Kewanee

I spent the last few days down in Kewanee, Illinois for the annual Oktoberfest/Liturgical Seminar.  What a tremendous blessing to be among so many faithful brothers and sisters in Christ to receive the Lord's Divine Gifts in the Mass (Divine Service) and to study and ponder the Liturgy, Church, and Ministry.  I say it every year, but I am certain that it holds true this year, namely that this was the best Oktoberfest/Liturgical Seminar in Kewanee yet!  We were treated to a heavy dose of Rev. Dr. David Scaer, which is always an experience to be cherished.  He was in his usual rare form (i.e. at his best), delivering to us serious and deep theological instruction, combined with his Scaer-istic wit (I don't know how else to describe it; if you know Dr. Scaer, you know what I mean).  It was pure joy, just like being back in class.  Loved every minute of it!

In between the "I have very little use for Lutheranism" and "Speak up!" outbursts, the good doctor delivered the goods, as he always does.  I particularly enjoyed hearing him expound upon his argument that a common liturgy shows forth and upholds the catholicity of Christ's Church.  While we can never fully see that catholicity, it is lived out and experienced in the liturgy.  When we introduce changes into the liturgy, no matter how "cute" they may be, we engage in sectarianism, corrupt catholicity, and run the risk of destroying faith.  I think he's exactly right.  The reason the Church uses the historic liturgy is not because she likes the "style" or longs to be "old-fashioned," but because, well, that's how she lives and breathes in Christ - it's how we participate in the life of our Lord, which is reenacted among us each time we gather together in His Name for Mass.

He also commented upon the love affair Lutherans have been having for some time with "evangelism," both personal and programmatic, making the case that there is no actual Scriptural warrant for these; that those popular Scripture passages often employed to motivate individual Christians and the Church at large to "get out there and win souls for Jesus" are grossly misinterpreted and misapplied.  He is most definitely right about this.  True evangelism happens when disciples are made in the Name of the Triune God, and disciples are made by the Holy Spirit via Baptism, catechesis, and ongoing reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in the Holy Supper.  "The true reality of the Church is what happens on Sunday in the Mass."

He also spoke at length about "The Ministry of the Word," a recently released WELS dogmatics book laying forth their doctrine of ministry, written by Pr. John Brug.  Suffice to say that Dr. Scaer is not very optimistic about the possibility of the LCMS ever again being in fellowship with the WELS, since he cannot see us ever agreeing on the doctrine of ministry.  Based on many of the quotes he cited from the book, I'd say his pessimism is warranted.

Favorite line (of many favorite lines) from Dr. Scaer's presentation:  "That's why I dislike Lutheranism!  It's just a parlor game." :)

On Tuesday, the Liturgical Seminar continued with Fr. Eckardt leading us in a discussion about his new book, "The New Testament in His Blood:  A Study of the Holy Liturgy of the Christian Church."   I read this through last night.  Wow!  This is a book that all Lutherans need to read.  Fr Eckardt has done the Church a great service in providing this excellent little treatise on the Holy Liturgy.  Ever wonder why Lutherans worship the way they do?  Here you go.  I simply cannot recommend this enough.  The book is divided into three parts:  I.  The Biblical Basis for Liturgical Worship; II.  The Case for the Holy Liturgy; III.  The Parts of the Liturgy of the Mass.  Each part is pure gold.  I've learned a ton from it already, and I'm sure I'll be learning more from it as time goes on.

Anyway, just a few thoughts I thought I'd share about my recent little getaway.  It was great to see and chat with so many faithful brothers.  And, as a bonus, I got to meet and chat with Adriane Dorr, formerly of Higher Things fame, but now the Managing Editor of The Lutheran Witness, which was a real treat.

Now . . . back to work! :)  

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