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On May 2, 60+ men received their calls to serve Christ at one of His churches. These men, graduates of Concordia Theological Seminary, are now finishing up their academic work: papers, tests, and a few classes, and this Friday the 17th of May, will graduate from CTS and be fully certified as Pastors.
Along with these men, I also received my call and will graduate in two days.
I look forward to getting back to the south. My ordination, however, will be July 7th in Cloquet, Minnesota at Hope Lutheran Church (where I grew up). Rev. Walter Lehenbauer has agreed to preside and preach. I hope to have other pastors who have been part of my life attend as well.
I will be installed at Hope on the 14th of July, and finally at St Paul on the 28th. But for now until the end of June, I will continue to work here at CTS in the IT department, and finish up some final IT-related things at my Ft Wayne church (Mt Calvary). CTS is charging me a LOT to stay here (for food, over $500!!!), but I really don’t have much of a choice. It’s not as if I can just go live with family….it’s been 20 years…that just wouldn’t be right or good for anyone. I suppose I could live in my car and eat out of cans, but whatever. The campus has a food co-op. They should let us special case students use the co-op for food rather than charge us…but that’s my rant.
It has been a growing trend in churches these days to demonize tradition. There is this movement away from the ancient or practiced forms, liturgies, or orders of worship and toward this sort of unplanned, unpracticed, unknown activity.
People use Scripture in order to support their opinions about tradition, even citing Jesus Himself as a hero against tradition.
Well in part, I apply blame to the Roman church. The Roman church elevates tradition to the same level as Scripture which is bound to cause those who break away from Catholicism to also burn from themselves any spot which resembles their practice. When we look at the Protestant Reformation, what happened? After Luther went in hiding, the mobs began to destroy the statues and symbols of the church. In the post-reformation, those churches which followed Zwingli or others demanded that any symbolic form be removed from the churches deeming them idols. The Restorationist movement of the late 19th century demanded that any “engraven image” be taken out of the church (they can’t even have windows with stained glass OR kitchens!!).
And now what do we have today? We have postmodernism! The mobs don’t like the “establishment” thus, if a church practices openly some tradition or form on a regular basis, the postmodern addict deems it “establishmentarian” and wants nothing to do with it. Thus we have Lutheran churches changing their worship practice because some member or a small group of members sees no value in the traditions practiced for perhaps hundreds of years; they consider themselves oppressed by the oppressive forms and rituals and demand that they be removed, or they leave and find some other church (or religion) which celebrates their opinions and turns them instead into the oppressors (and the churches with traditions into the oppressed).
Is this right? Is this what God wants? I can certainly say NO, not in any way! You people who hate tradition, you need to get over yourselves and read your bibles! The Bible is FULL of traditions, many of which are ESTABLISHED by God! Now are you going to call your heavenly Father oppressive because He is establishmentarian? Are you that foolish? Hey, if you can find a Christ-centered church out there which will celebrate your futility, then by all means join! But I am here to tell you that you are NOT going to find a “Christ-centered” church which at the same time despises tradition! It doesn’t exist! It CANNOT exist!
God built into us the need for tradition! Let me type that one more time…GOD BUILT INTO US THE NEED FOR TRADITION! Tradition helps us remember. It helps us remember our past, our present, and it helps us look to our future. When tradition is removed what remains is a desire for it to be returned among a cesspool of chaos. God is NOT a god of chaos, but a God of order and when that principle is despised on account of some cultural movement or opinion, then God is despised right along with it.
It was the traditions of God’s people which brought Jesus into the world! Think about that. The people of Israel were commanded to “tradition” the Sabbath day (to remember it); the same people of Israel were commanded by God to “tradition” the Passover (to remember it and celebrate it each year). There were dozens of feasts and offerings that the people of God were “traditioned” to do throughout the year. The people of God would build altars to the Lord in order that they and their ancestors would “tradition” what happened in that place (consider Abraham’s altars, Jacob’s altars, etc). All of these traditions, these rituals, these sacrifices, these remembrances, they were ALL pointing to their past, they were all working in the present, and they were all pointing forward to the day of the coming of Christ to earth.
You who despise tradition, you should be ashamed of yourself! How dare you stand before the throne of God and accuse Him. You call the traditions of the church unnecessary while at the same time you seek out traditions in every other part of your life.
When Jesus called out the religious leaders concerning their traditions, he wasn’t condemning tradition. Tradition in and of itself is a good thing and useful for aiding us in remembering and reflecting and meditating. So when ARE traditions bad? Well, it’s like anything else. If we make our shoes the object of our faith, then our shoes become idols. If we make our cars the object of our faith, then we worship a collection of metal, gears and circuits. And if we make tradition out to be the object of our faith, then we no longer worship God by those traditions, but we worship those traditions as god.
Do you see the difference? To completely abolish tradition is idolatry! Why? Because we idolize ourselves and our own thinking (at the expense of Scripture). To elevate tradition as the Roman Catholic church does is also idolatry because then we place said traditions at par with or above God. But to USE traditions and ceremonies and forms in a way to point God’s people to Christ is not only good and proper, but it is the way of the Church!
So next time you condemn tradition, stop for a second and ask yourself what you’re REALLY condemning (or rather who). We ALL have traditions and there’s no way around that. You can throw out the traditional liturgies or hymns, dress in a suit and tie instead of vesting, do away with the crucifix or the altar or the pulpit or the font…but check your motives. If it’s because it will edify the people of God and serve to teach them God’s Word and promises in a better way, then fine. But if it is because you are enslaved with culture and worldly movements – repent and turn to God for forgiveness and the assurance that your sins are forgiven. I say the same thing to those who insist on certain traditions, giving them an elevated status and using them as a means to an end. REPENT!
Why not? Because our minds are cluttered with sin, doubt, fear, skepticism, and individualism. Because if we attempt to use frail human logic to answer the unanswerable, we end up becoming our own worst nightmare.
Throw out the lust for answering every question and the adulterous nature that tries to put God in a box. Get rid of it. Now, look at Scripture. What does it say? It doesn’t say what you accepted as truth according to what your rationalist teachers said, does it?
Is it the body and blood of Christ? YES! Why? Because Christ says it is! Does Baptism save? YES! Why? Because the Lord says so. If that isn’t good enough for you, then you will never understand the Christian faith. If the need for answers and the rational are more important to you than the simple but profound words of Christ, then Christ is of no value to you, because it is completely irrational that a man should die on the cross and rise again on the third day. It is utterly foolish that God should become flesh and sacrifice Himself in order that you might be free. There is no logic or sense to it.
A 6-day creation? Such nonsense doesn’t add up! Science has proven that things are older than what Scripture says. And so you pit science against Scripture and you abandon the Word of your faith so that you might bed with the thoughts of men and their reasoning.
If man can find a way to disprove God or cause doubt or questioning, he will find it! And the consequence is always the same. Therefore, quit trying to be God. Adam tried that and failed. A countless many have done the same and also failed. Now what about you? You know what Scripture says. Are you going to stand before the Lord of heaven and earth and say, “I don’t agree with you”? How utterly foolish! Is the serpent so cunning that you continue to fall for the doubt and faithlessness he persuades you to? Why is it so difficult to say “this IS the body and this IS the blood”? Jesus said it and meant it; why do you question?
Faith like a child means believing wholeheartedly in every word without question. Can you do that? Of course you can’t. But you must seek to, or you will never find the Truth.
“Submit to One Another”
Fellow members at Holy Trinity Lutheran church, guests, family and friends, and Shawn and Susan, Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Several weeks ago you approached me as a soon to be married couple and you asked me if you could choose the Scripture passage that our meditation today would be based on. And at first I said to myself: “Oh no…oh no…not another 1 Corinthians 13 wedding.”
But then you surprised me. You didn’t request 1 Corinthians 13, but instead you asked me to preach on a passage MUCH more fitting for our service today, and for your marriage.
The following is a work in-progress of a Catechesis/Confirmation course which I would like to implement in my perish, once called. It is a three-year plan which consists first of memorization, followed by understanding, and finishing with conversation. It follows an ancient form of learning, one which has lost its way in these last days, but that I would like to see brought back to our churches.
As you read through this (and as I continue to move closer to completing it), you will notice that it sways away from the standard 1960′s model of Confirmation (which has turned our Rite of Confirmation into a graduation ceremony) and more toward a lifestyle of catechisis where learning, understanding, and conversing become the core, rather than a part, of the Christians reality.
I simply want to make clear to anyone who reads this blog that the LCMS and its auxiliaries are NOT part of the “ELCA”, nor do we agree in any way with this, and that we hold these unscriptural and ungodly decisions and actions in contempt.
Again, I as a communicate member of an LCMS-rostered congregation, stand behind my belief and doctrine regarding homosexuality, a doctrine which is scripturally derived and scripturally sound, and I can do no other and still call myself a person of faith. Homosexuality is a sin and should be treated as any other sin, and the sinner should be called to confession and repentance just as with any other sin of thought, word, and deed.
We should not parade this sin, endorse it, support it or flaunt it as though it is not sin, for doing so would mock God’s holy name, and God will not be mocked. The ELCA, and any Christian sect, which stands behind the sinful actions of sinful men – even calling what is sin as not sin – should be called out for their foolishness and depravity, and even if the situation demands, excommunicated for teaching and practicing false doctrine which is NOT the doctrine of the Church.
I do not even think that the “ELCA” should call itself “Lutheran” as they do not confess and adhere to the doctrine OF the Evangelical Lutheran church anymore.
It was January 26, 2008. Lance Corporal Maria Frances Lauterbach was to be remembered and honored at a funeral in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Lauterbach was earlier found dead, burned to death in the back yard fire pit of one Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean. She was eight-months pregnant at the time of her death.
In a blog article posted on November 19th, 2012 by Matthew E Cochran called “Debunking a Myth: Contemporary Worship is not Inclusive“, Mr. Cochran makes some valid points.
First of all, he asserts that the notion that “traditional Lutheran hymnals are more than a collection that only old people sing” is dubious. Well, I agree. I grew up singing those traditional hymns from the LW (Lutheran Worship) hymnal, and even now I continue to sing and even rely on the LSB (Lutheran Service Book). He also makes the statement that the hymns in the LSB are hundreds or even thousands of years old, and of course he is correct.
But now here comes the question that must be asked: When did Lutheran hymnody become a “closed canon”? When and who decided that the 950 or so hymns we have in our current hymnal are the end all-be all and final say in what we will ever have or use, even in any future hymnal? This reactionary, closed-door approach to church music simply will not fly, especially since there are many VERY GOOD and Lutheran hymns (songs) being written today that, in some respects, may be better (more theological, easier to sing, easier to remember) than even some of the hymns from TLH (The Lutheran Hymnal).
We cannot make the hymnals used in the LCMS a “closed canon” but we must be willing to consider other songs/hymns so that the hymnal that now spans thousands of years can continue to span time (and not just stop with the era of Luther or Bach). Granted, there are some hymns in the hymnal that are more current. Obviously the folks who put the LSB together understand as I do, that new music and hymnody should be encouraged.
Really, my only other issue with Mr Cochran’s article is his sort of underhanded way of dealing with the use of other instruments (other than a 5 million dollar pipe organ). I LOVE the organ! I have played the organ for most of my life. But I also know how much a real, good sounding pipe organ (or even electronic organ) costs. For our churches today who are struggling financially, investing in an instrument which could close the doors to the church permanently is simply not a wise decision. If I am called to a congregation that cannot afford an organ, but at the same time has several talented musicians who can do the service, I will call on them FIRST before even entertaining the idea of finding an organ for the church. IF I have a jazz bad leading the music for worship, then they will lead the hymns because it’s what we have. If I have a group of guitarists and bass players and a drummer, then they will lead the music.
I will not make laws and rules about how worship should be and should not be done (for the sake of “reverence”) when such laws are not made in Scripture or the Confessions, and when the congregation cannot afford to do it any other way. We don’t even NEED musicians or organs or accompaniment in worship in order to sing the hymns. We can sing acappella, for that matter, and it is just as reverent because it is our response to the great and wonderful love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Mr Cochran is certainly not like some of the weasels out there in the LCMS who look down on anyone who doesn’t wear chausibles and cause allergies to go crazy with incense. I appreciate that, Matt. But at the same time I think you should be a bit more understanding and, as Paul instructs, put things in the best light possible so that these crazy divisions and battles which continue to rage in the LCMS can come to an end.
I forgot to mention this: The fact that, in one service I can lead a contemporary song such as “Open the Eyes of My Heart”, and then sing “O Holy Night” followed by a contemporary version of “Joy to the World” says something. It says that I am willing to at least consider, to look, to listen, and to work diligently to find good songs which are Lutheran in theology, but yet easy to sing, easy to remember, and edifying to the congregation.