Monday, November 28, 2005

The Proud Winner of a Golden Aardie

It's nice to know that my deranged and often disjointed thoughts are receiving critical acclaim. It's also nice to know (and frankly terrifying!) that my deranged and often disjointed thoughts are being read!

Thanks for the Golden Aardie! I continue to strive and struggle with what it means to be a Lutheran. There's a reason "What does this mean?" is all over the catechism. If we stop thinking about what this means, we will lose the true meaning of what it means to be Lutheran...if you get what I mean!

Thanks again Aardie for this most esteemed honor! Check out Aardvark Alley! It's a great blog site!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Who Are We?

I am beginning to realize that the Missouri Synod knows some things very well. For example, we know who we are NOT. For example, we are NOT Roman Catholics, we are NOT Orthodox, we are NOT Reformed, we are NOT mainstream American Protestant, we are NOT charismatic, and we certainly are NOT EVANGELICALS!!

When my parents and grandparents were growing up in the Lutheran Church, the thing NOT to be was Catholic. As a matter of fact, there was nothing worse than the idea that we were just a different “kind” of catholic. As I am growing up in the Missouri Synod and learning more and more about our history, it seems that we have a long line of groups that we are NOT. It seems that in my career in the Missouri Synod, the thing so far that we are trying to distance ourselves from (at least the more vocal among us) is that of the dreaded Evangelical. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that I am NOT one of those mainstream, mega-church, feel good, polo-shirt wearin'-to-church-on-Sunday Evangelical ministers (actually, I’m not quite sure what I am sometimes, since I am, after all “just a Vicar.”) The atmosphere among the “in-the-know” theologically educated shuns this feel-good Evangelical, smiley, nice dressing and generally watered down group of happy-clappies.

Unfortunately, no one is clearly telling our people or our clergy what we ARE. Are we liturgical? If so, how liturgical can we be without crossing the historically dreaded line of Catholicism, or the mysterious, although somewhat alluring, line of Orthodoxy? Are we contemporary? If so, how many praise bands, testimonials, and “worship leaders” are we away from being general Protestants, or worse (gasp!) Evangelicals?!!

It's always a fine line that I find no one wants to cross. As a matter of fact, no one even really knows where it is, that is, until it's been crossed. By the time the line has been crossed in either direction it is not much longer until accusations are being made, threats are being lobbed by all sides and the fear of schism rears its ugly head in our beloved Synod.

So, here’s a real question, and I hope I will get some constructive feedback on this. Who are we as Missouri-Synod Lutheran Christians? How far can we go in either direction? Is incense too far one way? Are all out heavy metal Divine Services too far the other? No one really seems to know until it has already been done, and often times by that time it's too late.

I am confident that, for the most part, the majority of our pastors and theologians are well right of the center as far as theology goes. But what are we going to do about who we are? Can anything be done? Who knows? As for me, I’m gonna keep pushing that liturgical envelope until I can someday have people, without fear, follow Luther’s suggestion to “make the sign of the holy cross” as a rememberance of their baptism, to “let their prayers rise before God as incense” and all sorts of other fun and meaningful liturgical stuff that may be considered “too Catholic.”

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

This is a day that few of us in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pay much notice to. Maybe it's too "catholic" sounding, maybe it's just weird for us, who knows. But I think it's a wonderful celebration in the church year.

It is on this day that we give thanks to God for His faithfulness in leading His people to their eternal home. The focus in on GOD’S work, not the work of any saint. We give thanks to God for sending Christ so that we can be saved through Him and faithfully carrying His people to their eternal home in heaven.

So, today give extra thanks to God for His faithfulness, thank Him for the gift of faith that He works in us, thank Him for using His people over the ages to spread the Gospel of Christ.

Collect for Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

Almighty God, in whose glorious presence live all who depart in the Lord and before whom all the souls of the faithful who are delivered of the burden of the flesh are in joy and felicity, we give you hearty thanks for your loving-kindness to all your servants who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labors, and we humbly implore your mercy that we, together with all who have departed in the saving faith, may have our perfect consummation and bliss, in both body and soul, in your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Weird Pictures

Last night my good wife, Lesa, went through all my blog posts and edited them. Apparently I am not perfect and needed to have some errors corrected. That's what wives are for.

She asked me where I got my picture for my profile. I told her I took it myself and that it was one of my favorite self-pics. She told me that she couldn't quite figure it out, but there was something wrong with it and she really didn't like it.

I had taken the picture of myself in a mirror. The reason I liked it is because that is how I always see myself. That is the same reason my wife disliked it. She never sees my reflection and it looked off to her.

I"ll leave you, the good reader, to make your own theological connections to this. I just thought it was interesting that how I see myself and how my wife sees me is different. What I like is not what she likes and vice versa.

If you want a picture of yourself that you'll like, take it in a mirror!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Some Hymns I'm working on

Christ, the Source of all Praise and Worship

The holiday season is swiftly approaching! The Advent of our God is our theme in prayer! I have been bitten by the hymnology bug (if hymnology is a word.) These are a few attempts to leave my mark on the world, for better or worse.

I wrote this to be a Thanksgiving offertory. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei are also for our Thanksgiving service.

Give thanks to God for He is good.
He blesses us with home and food.
His steadfast love continues on,
Praise Christ who has the vict’ry won!

Be not concerned with anything,
But to Him with thanksgiving bring
Our supplication and our prayer,
Our needs with Him we gladly share.

Praise be to God who is our gain,
Daily He blesses us with grain.
Come let us now respond in love,
To the Eternal throned above.

Now may this peace from God above,
Given in Christ with perfect love,
Guard us in all our thoughts and ways
Till He returns at end of days.
(Text: James A. Roemke, 2005 Tune: Old Hundredth)

Sanctus (sung to “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel” LW #1)

O Holy, holy, holy Lord
In all the heav’ns and earth adored.
Thou art the Lord of power and might,
You fill us with Thy radiant light.
Holy, holy only Thou art holy
We come to Thee humble and lowly.
(Text: James A. Roemke, 2005)

Agnus Dei (sung to Puer Nobis, “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” LW #14)

O Lamb of God, perfect and mild
You came to us a little child.
The weight of sin you came to bear,
Now in your righteousness we share.
(Text: James A. Roemke, 2005)

These verses I plan on using for the Advent theme. I will be preaching on the names of Immanuel in Isaiah 9:6 using a different name each Wednesday service. I plan on inserting the appropriate stanza for the week's sermon in LW #12 "The Advent of Our God."

Wonderful Counselor, who guides us all our days, stay close to us abide with us and lead us through life’s maze.

Come Mighty God, arise. Defend us from all harm. Lord Jesus comes to save us with His Almighty arm.

Everlasting Father, beginning and our end, Alpha , Omega, Eternal your sheep you came to tend.

O Christ, our Prince of Peace, you died to give us life. Sins bonds are broke, the price is paid an end to all our strife.

(Text: James A. Roemke, 2005 Tune: St. Thomas)