Communion together

Being at the pastor’s conference this week, I was able to do something as a family that normally I don’t get to do, unless I’m on vacation: we all got to commune as a family.

LSB Icon_108.jpgOn any given Sunday, I’m either the liturgist (the one who leads the Divine Service) or officiant (the one who presides over the Lord’s Supper). I rarely get the opportunity to commune with my family unless it’s vacation time. To be able to commune as a family is nice, even if it meant dealing with a crabby 2 year old who only had an hour nap and was 45 minutes past bed time. I did notice one thing though: for a 2 year old, Wesley has the desire to commune as well. He desperately wanted the host that was placed in my hand. When the chalice came by, he grabbed for the chalice and then grabbed the arm of the elder who had the individual cups. It’s good to see that Wesley desires Christ’s body and blood. Now if everyone else had that same desire, we’d be in pretty good shape!

Good Friday thoughts

Good Friday may have originally been called “God’s Friday,” but it is certainly also “good” because of the good gifts Christ won for us on this day. Good Friday is not observed as a funeral for Christ, but as a day for repentance over sin and restrained joy and praise for the redemption Christ accomplished for us on the cross.

The services of Holy Week are tied together and best viewed as one worship service. Therefore as you enter the sanctuary you will notice the candles are lit and there is no Invocation or Benediction.

In the service of “Tenebrae” (darkness) candles are extinguished to symbolize our Lord’s descent into death for our sins. The harsh sound (called “Strepitus” in Latin) has a variety of interpretations, including the scourging by the soldiers, the earthquake at the moment of Christ’s death, or the closing of the tomb.

One must not attend a Tenebrae service without also returning to celebrate the victory of Christ on Easter morning; else we remain in our sadness, unsure of our victory in Jesus. The forces of hell do not and shall not prevail against the Light of Christ. His resurrection is sure. He lives eternally. And we, too, shall live!

(From Trinity Lutheran Church, Gillette, WY Good Friday Tenebrae service)

Maundy Thursday thoughts

Holy Thursday, occurring on the eve of our Lord’s crucifixion, culminates the Lenten period of preparation for Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, and is a service of restrained joy. The Service of Corporate Confession and Absolution signals the end of the Lenten preparations with the absolution and peace of Christ. The Service of the Word focuses upon Christ’s sacrificial service demonstrated in His washing of His disciples’ feet, a servanthood enacted on the cross and whose benefits are bestowed in His means of grace. The service culminates with the Lord’s ministry to His people through the Sacrament of the Altar. The depth of Christ’s servanthood is demonstrated as the altar is reverently stripped in preparation for the Church’s observance of Jesus’ death on Good Friday.

During this Lenten season we have heard our Lord’s call to intensify our struggle against sin, death, and the devil – all that prevents us from trusting in God and loving each other. Since it is our intention to receive the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ on this night when He instituted this blessed meal for our salvation, it is proper that we complete our Lenten discipline by diligently examining ourselves, as St. Paul urges us to do. This holy Sacrament has been instituted for the special comfort of those who are troubled because of their sin and who humbly confess their sins, fear God’s wrath, and hunger and thirst for righteousness.

But when we examine our hearts and consciences, we find nothing in us but sin and death, from which we are incapable of delivering ourselves. Therefore, our Lord, Jesus Christ has had mercy on us. For our benefit He became man so that He might fulfill for us the whole will and law of God and, to deliver us, took upon Himself our sin and the punishment we deserve. So that we may more confidently believe this and be strengthened in the faith and in holy living, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.” It is as if He said, “I became man, and all that I do and suffer is for your good. As a pledge of this, I give you My body to eat.”

In the same way also He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Again, it is as if He said, “I have had mercy on you by taking into Myself all your iniquities. I give Myself into death, shedding My blood to obtain grace and forgiveness of sins, and to comfort and establish the new testament, which gives forgiveness and everlasting salvation. As a pledge of this, I give you My blood to drink.”

Therefore, whoever eats this bread and drinks this cup, confidently believing this Word and promise of Christ, dwells in Christ and Christ in him and has eternal life.

We should also do this in remembrance of Him, showing His death – that He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Giving Him our most heartfelt thanks, we take up our cross and follow Him and, according to His commandment, love one another as He has loved us. As our Lord on this night exemplified this love by washing His disciples’ feet, so we by our words and actions serve one another in love. For we are all one bread and one body, even as we are all partakers of this one bread and drink from the one cup. For just as the one cup is filled with wine of many grapes and one bread made from countless grains, so also we, being many, are one body in Christ. Because of Him, we love one another, not only in word, but in deed and in truth.

May the almighty and merciful God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit, accomplish this in us.

(From Trinity Lutheran Church, Gillette, WY Maundy Thursday service)

Church on Thursday or Sunday: YOU decide!

This has appeared in our local newspaper at least twice now.  The church will be left anonymous but that doesn’t affect the article.

Eight reasons why you might try our Thursday Night Church Service

8.  You’re never in town on the weekends
7.  Thursday Night Church might not be as boring and irrelevant.
6.  Gillette’s best looking pastor.*
5.  You’re always watching football on Sunday.
4.  In at 7 p.m. – out by 8 p.m.
3.  Your kids will have a blast at Thursday Night Jam Time.
2.  Everybody just wears their work clothes.
1.  You like to sleep in on Sunday.

* An opinion held by almost nobody


Ok, so let me discuss the following points.

8.  For Gillette, this is very common.  With traveling sports as well as intramural sports, people are traveling all weekend and playing games from Friday through Sunday.  By the time they get back in town, church is well done and over with.  For most sports travelers, there isn’t even time to go to church while traveling for sports because games are often held during church services to get all the games in.

7.  What does that say about your Sunday service?  That’s all I’m gonna say about that!

6.  This really isn’t even worth comment, joking or not.

5.  We have 2 services on Sunday: 8:30 and 10.  If you attend our 8:30 service, you will still be home before the early game kicks off.  Granted, you may miss some pregame interviews and what-not, but oh well!  Church is either important or it’s not.

4.  Wow, church in an hour.  We can do that too.  FYI, this church has two services on Sunday.  One lasts 60 minutes and the second lasts 70.  Question: what takes 10 more minutes in the second service?  Lord’s Supper?

3.  Obviously, you’re kids won’t have a blast during the Sunday service.  This tells me that worship isn’t a key point here but having fun.  As Higher Things says, “When we worship, we worship.  When we play, we play.  When we work, we work.”

2.  We have people who wear their works clothes here as well.  We have people just coming out of the mines, we have people on their way to the mines.  We have people on their way to the hospital.  They wear what they wear.  As long as it is appropriate clothing, we don’t say anything.

1.  Who doesn’t like to sleep in on Sunday?  I like to sleep in too, but I’m up and at church.  Granted, it is my vocation as pastor that requires me to be at church on Sunday morning.  But we have 200+ people every Sunday who, given the chance to sleep in or come to church, choose the latter. 

Now, I’m sure that this particular church isn’t holding up their Thursday night service as something better than their Sunday services.  This is just a way of advertising their service on Thursday.  Couldn’t they have done something different than this, making up a list of reasons why Thursday church might be better for you than Sunday?  Just by putting in a little ad highlighting their various services and indicating that Thursday is a more “relaxed” setting would have sufficed, but I guess this is more appealing to people.

Women Pastors? A new resource

Women PastorsA new book has just recently been released by Concordia Publishing House entitled, Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective. Below is the product description from CPH:

As the ordination of women becomes more commonplace, it is important for all faithful Lutherans, clergy and laity alike, to be able to articulate why, because of the teachings of Holy Scripture, women should not be ordained as pastors. This book offers a rich variety of essays on this topic from the past century up to the present time, responding to the practice of placing women in the church’s pastoral ministry.

There are over twenty essays in this volume, representing Lutheran churches throughout the world. The essays are divided into four sections: Biblical studies, historical studies, doctrinal studies and practical studies.

Anders Nygren, a Lutheran theologian from the Church of Sweden, said prophetically after his church adopted the ordination of women as pastors, “This decision not only means a determination of the specific issue concerning female pastors, but, I am convinced, also means that our church has now shifted into a previously unknown path heading in the direction of Gnosticism and the Schwaermerei. . . I must declare my deep sorrow regarding the decision and give notice of my reservation over the same.”

Just how far this direction of Gnosticism and Enthusiasm has progressed in Lutheran churches that ordain women to be pastors is now quite apparent in Sweden, and elsewhere, where there are now blessings of same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals.

The ordination of women as pastors is at the very center of the Lutheran Church’s struggle to retain a faithful view of the Holy Scriptures as the Word of God.

“Years ago, C.S. Lewis said that should the Church opt to ordain women, it would very quickly find that it had brought about a whole new religion. . . . His words have an uncanny prescience to them. Perhaps it is time to step back, reexamine what we have done, and if honesty requires us to say that we have done wrong, begin the necessary correction of the course.” from the essay in the book, How My Mind Has Changed, by Rev. Louis A. Smith, ELCA pastor

I have not had a chance to purchase this yet, though it is now on my “To Read” list. The price for this is $26.99 and is currently available. To order, contact CPH at 1-800-325-3040.

MINISTRY shapes faith more than WORSHIP

In the latest e-news letter put out by Rev. Terry Dittmer from the Youth Ministry Office of The LCMS Board for District and Congregational Services (what a mouthful), he has a blurb from the Associated Baptist Press under his “Teens and Trends” section. Here is what it says:

If you want to influence a teenager’s faith, have them serve meals to the homeless or do other hands-on service projects. “Involvement in community service is far more significant to the faith development of teens than involvement in worship,” says Michael Sherr, one of the Baylor University researchers who conducted the study (Associated Baptist Press, February 8, 2007).

So the question is: should I have my youth attend the Divine Service, where they hear the Word of God and receive Christ’s body and blood, OR should I send them to the local soup kitchen where they serve meals to the homeless? Better yet, why not just cancel church for all the members and send them to various places to do “hands-on service projects?” If it’s good for youth, then it has to be good for the entire congregation, right?

UPDATE: You can read the entire article for yourself here.

LSB Workshop

Lutheran Service BookThis past Saturday, a number of us from Trinity went to Trinity Lutheran in Casper for a workshop about the Lutheran Service Book. The workshop was 3 hours long and good for everyone who attended. Everyone who attended received their own copy of LSB, along with a guide for using LSB. After the workshop, all 14 of us from Trinity went to Old Chicago Pizza for lunch. It took quite a while to get all 14 served. Our food was cold/lukewarm at best.

We’re all looking forward to Dec. 3, the first Sunday in Advent, when we will start using Lutheran Service Book for the first time. We’ll be using Divine Service One, the equivalent of Divine Service Two, Setting One out of Lutheran Worship which we currently use. Slowly, we’ll start expanding to other services, such as Divine Service Three, which is the old p. 15 from The Lutheran Hymnal.

For more information about Lutheran Service Book, click here.