“See, therefore, that those who are spiritually poor, who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, who are sorrowing, downtrodden and upset over their sins, who are concerned for their salvation, who are fleeing the world and all its temptations, who are daily struggling and wrestling with God, who groan after God’s grace, wherever they go, who fear for themselves before God’s disfavor, hell and damnation: those are the ones referred to when it says: “The miserable shall eat that they be satisfied.” They are the rightful guests at the LORD’s table.”
C.F.W. Walther “Confessional Address on Psalm 22.27 (Maundy Thursday 1848),” Occasional Sermons and Addresses By C.F.W. Walther, Joel Basely, 278.
Comprehensive organ preludes based on the hymn tunes of Lutheran Service Book. In the tradition of The Parish Organist and the Concordia Hymn Prelude Series, this is the first of 12 volumes of creative, substantive, and practical preludes for every organist and congregation.
• Complete library will include 12 volumes
• Organized alphabetically by hymn tune
• Volume 1 (A VA DE through AZMON)
• More than 100 contributing composers
• Series edited by Kevin Hildebrand
• All newly composed
• Each prelude is 2-4 pages in length
• Useful for preludes, postludes, offertories, introductions, during distribution
• A rich assortment of styles, harmonies, and registrations
• Alternate keys provided to match LSB
• Every volume can be used throughout the Church Year
• Useful with other hymnals and worship books
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Series editor Kevin Hildebrand, M.Mus., M.A., is Associate Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Composer, educator, and recitalist, he is a frequent organ workshop leader. He has over 40 music publications with Concordia Publishing House, including the popular “Six Hymn Improvisations” series.
A beautiful photo by Tyrel Bramwell, which he gave me permission to share. This was taken on an iPhone at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
Great blog post by Pastor Michael Walther . . . Recently pop icon Justin Bieber got a tattoo on his leg – a tattoo of Jesus wearing the crown of thorns. Of course this caused quite a sensation among his followers, the “beliebers” as they have been called. They wanted to know what this meant. What kind of Christian was he? Sadly, Justin said that he didn’t need to go to church to be a Christian. Now I know he is a young man, and young men are known to say stupid things. I know that I said some stupid things like that when I was his age. But this is wrong. Justin either doesn’t believe what Jesus taught, or (more likely) he doesn’t understand.
Many people see problems in the church such as hypocrisy or people weak in faith. Unfortunately they respond by rejecting corporate worship or what some people today would call “religion.” People also feel that they can connect to God on their own without other people being involved. Justin probably wouldn’t want to be lumped in with Tom T. Hall, who sang, “Me and Jesus, We Got Our Own Thing Going,” but I think that’s were he and a lot of people are today.
This rejection of religion or seeking Jesus privately is not the solution. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18.20). The writer of Hebrews warns us not to forsake the “assembling of ourselves together” (10.25). We would do well to notice that the longest of the Ten Commandments is the Sabbath commandment calling us to worship. Luke tells us that on the Sabbath Day Jesus went to the synagogue “as was His custom” (4.16). Jesus also describes the church as the “body” of which He is the head. No one can love the head (Jesus) without loving the rest of the body (the church) (Colossians 1.18).
In John chapter two we read about Jesus clearing the Temple of animals and money-changers. He wanted to clean up the hypocrisy and weakness that sometimes infects worship. But He didn’t tell them to stop coming to the Temple! Instead He renewed worship by calling people to repentance and by offering His own perfect life and death as a redeeming sacrifice.
See “Renewing Worship” (sermon for March 11, 2012)
Subscribe and Save 20% on Every Volume in the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary Series — Great New Resource!
Subscription Offer Become a subscriber to the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary Series and save 20% off every volume. The price per volume is $24.99, so your discount would bring that price down for you to $18.74. To celebrate the launch of this new series we will also provide free shipping on this first volume. Offer expires April 30, 2012. Shipping costs will apply to each volume afterwards. Subscribers receive two volumes per year for a total of 14 New Testament volumes. You may cancel your subscription at any time. Call 1-800-325-3040 to sign up for the subscription.
We will be placing these books in e-book format and plan to release them in LOGOS format, but the subscription price is only good on print volumes, since we have no control over what Amazon charges for ebooks, etc.
The great reformers’ influence upon the Bible’s interpretation and application could not help but revitalize the Church. This is as true today as it was five hundred years ago. The reformers taught with special insight due to their constant reading, study, translating, and preaching of the Sacred Scriptures. This commentary series shares with readers today insights from the reformers and faithful commentary that stems from their heritage. Similar to the NIV People’s Bible Commentary Series, this lay-level commentary allows readers to study the Word in a deep and meaningful way with devotional warmth and readability. The Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary Series provides readers with an insightful New Testament commentary in the English Standard Version translation. This new series is perfect for church workers, Bible class teachers, or anyone interested in learning more about the Bible. The series’ unique layout features both the English Standard Version and King James Version; the complimentary versions and parallel format allow readers to see both the classic and modern translations side by side. Starting with the Pauline epistles, two volumes of the series will be released per year. Each commentary will feature introductions, notes, charts, maps, applications, articles, and quotes from ancient, medieval, and evangelical Church Fathers. Through both broad contexts and specific verses, these historical, cultural, and doctrinal insights will surely lead readers to a sound interpretation and application of the biblical text.
Features of the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary Series:
- ESV text KJV text
- Book introductions
- Church Father quotations
“The Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary is a unique series that promises to be a valuable resource for laity and preachers. The verse-by-verse commentary focuses on major topics, providing clear interpretation and devotional insight in keeping with how the Reformers approached Scripture, and emphasizing themes that were central in their teaching. Illustrative quotes from key Reformers and their heirs, including Lutheran, Calvinist, Anglican, and Wesleyan sources, provide insights in their own words, without trying to survey the range of views represented in this heritage. This focused approach gives a clear reading of the text which engages one’s mind and heart.” — The Rev. Dr. Rodney A. Whitacre, Professor of Biblical Studies Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania
“Busy pastors and teachers of the scriptures need commentaries that are biblical, theological, and practical. Fortunately, the present commentary on Colossians and the Thessalonian letters fulfills those requirements. In addition, the commentary is accessible to a wide variety of readers, for it is written in a wonderfully clear way. I commend this work gladly.” — Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament ,The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“If the commentaries on Colossians and I and II Thessalonians is indicative of the entire series, the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary promises to be an asset to the library of serious Bible students, whether layman or clergy. This series exemplifies the reformers commitment to sola scriptura, that the revelation of God’s saving purposes is in scripture alone, which is primarily about Christ alone. The blend of overviews and insights from our protestant forefathers with exegesis and application from contemporary reformed theologians makes for an interesting read. Contemporary readers will also appreciate the devotional notes in these commentaries. Because the study of God’s word is not just an academic endeavor, it engages the mind, heart and will of those who trust Christ for their salvation. While many modern commentaries seem to focus on the application of the scriptures, the intent here is gospel centered interpretation, resulting in devotional application. This is a work of serious scholastic intent combined with theological scrutiny and integrity. I am grateful for such a work and confident that it will be profitable for years to come in aiding the church’s effort to know Christ more fully as He is revealed in Holy Scripture.” — Kenneth R. Jones, Pastor of Glendale Baptist Church, Miami, FL,Co-host of nationally syndicated talk show – White Horse Inn
“The Reformation of the church brought with it biblical insights that revitalized churches and radically changed the course of theological studies as giants like Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Chemnitz, and Wesley commented extensively on Holy Scripture. The new Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary is a one-stop-resource where the observations of these and other distinguished Reformation leaders are brought together around specific books of the New Testament. This first volume in the series, Colossians/1 & 2 Thessalonians, is an impressive treatment of these Pauline letters that pastors, laypeople, and professional scholars will treasure and find eminently useful.”— Rev. Dr. R. Reed Lessing Professor of Exegetical Theology and Director of the Graduate School, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
“There is little doubt that CPH will market the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary as a bunch of books. Having read Colossians and 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, I believe that would be a mistake. This was not a ponderous tome to be endured; it was an opportunity to monitor a lively seminar. As leader, St. Paul places on the table church doctrines, heresies, and challenges. These topics are then discussed by the minds and pens of Luther, Melanchthon, Hus, Cranmer, Chemnitz, and others. It was a joy to hear them and a comfort to find their struggles and successes are mine.”— Pastor Ken Klaus Speaker Emeritus, The Lutheran Hour
“This first volume of the Reformation Heritage Bible Commentary proves itself to be a useful resource for pastors and laity. The brief modern commentary focuses on the key features of each verse. Also, references are interspersed throughout the commentary to the great reformers and to the creeds of the Reformation. The results are illuminating and theologically informed.”— David W. Chapman Associate Professor of New Testament and Archaeology Covenant Theological Seminary
13 March (ENInews)–For years, advocates for greater unity among Christian churches have wrung their hands amid talk of an “ecumenical winter.” But now, 10 years after leaders took the first steps toward forming the broad-based group Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT), some have hopes that U.S. churches may be entering a new season of closer relations.
At a recent CCT meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, 85 Christians — Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, white and nonwhite — made pilgrimages to historic sites of the civil rights movement, Religion News Service reports. They also made plans to use next year’s 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to pursue anti-poverty projects with houses of worship unlike their own.
“I would like to think of it as an ecumenical spring and that we do not yet know what will break forth,” said the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., ecumenical staff officer of the United Methodist Church. “I think that there’s the potential for the ecumenical movement to be more alive than it’s ever been because it will be more inclusive.”
In many ways, the movement that has grappled with theological differences, leadership struggles, finances — and even what to call itself — is in the midst of major down-sizing that they hope will lead to wider engagement:
– The National Council of Churches (NCC), the flagship agency of ecumenism, has shrunk from some 400 staffers in its heyday in the 1960s to fewer than 20. It is seeking a “transitional general secretary” after its executive, the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, stepped down on 31 December.
– Churches Uniting in Christ, a network that dates to the 1960s, closed its office doors in 2010 and one of its nine affiliated denominations — the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church — has suspended its membership. CUIC’s remaining leaders hope to continue to address racism and shared ministries.
– CCT itself is looking for new leadership after its part-time executive director announced his retirement. Though it includes “families” of Catholic, Orthodox, historic and evangelical Protestant faiths, it has struggled to find acceptance among the “historic racial/ethnic” churches.
Ecumenical veterans say a movement that was built on slow-moving bureaucracies needs to find a way to stay nimble in the 21st century. “It’s a little bit like keeping the post office running,” said the Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, the outgoing president of CCT’s historic Protestant family.
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We hear a lot about Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, also known as the “Enchiridon” … an English word deriving from the Greek language, meaning, literally “In the hand” … in other words, a “Handbook.” The Small Catechism that Luther wrote in 1529 has, for many centuries, commonly been published with an “Explanation,” consisting of a series of questions and answers on the variety of doctrinal topics covered in the six chief parts of Luther’s Catechism. How did this “Explanation” come about, and on what is it based? Rev. Engelbrecht does a nice job explaining this, and I’m passing along his blog post:
Luther did not write “A Short Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.” Others wrote it while commenting on Luther’s catechism. Ultimately, the root of the book is from Johann Konrad Dietrich’s Institutiones catecheticae published in the 17th century and updated by subsequent generations in various languages to meet the current needs of Christian educators. Due to the number of contributors and to the constant editing of the text over the centuries, the work cannot be attributed to one or even a few contributors, which is why I suppose there are no specific author names associated with it. However, on page 45 of the current edition, you will find, “This explanation has been based upon and largely includes the work of Johann Konrad Dietrich (1575–1639), Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811–1887), Heinrich Christian Schwann (1819–1905), and the committee that prepared the synodical catechism of 1943.” Concordia Publishing House has updated the catechism in cooperation with the LCMS since at least 1943. I recently sent to Concordia Historical Institute the files of CPH editor Dr. Earl Gaulke regarding the 1991 edition, which was the last time we updated the book. The explanation exists under a separate copyright from the translation of the catechism itself. (See the indicia page for the current edition which refers to a 1991 CPH copyright and to earlier versions of the explanation published in 1965 and 1943.)
You may purchase a copy of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation from Concordia Publishing House by following this link.
I have posted my last criticism of the high church movement in The LCMS. Why? Unless and until our Synod deals, decisively and finally, with situations described in this post, there is simply no point in any further comments about the high church trends among us. The situation you will read about below is far, far more of a threat to our confessional identity than anything else we presently face. The question simply is this: are we, or are we not, going to be Lutheran? Read on.
A person sent me a link to a LCMS mission congregation, which has been held up around the Missouri Synod by some as a model of how we should be doing church and ministry. They invited a non-Lutheran singer/speaker not only to perform for them, but to take the stage to deliver the sermon during their “worship experience.” This mission congregation does not describe itself as Lutheran and has not a word on its web site in its core values about any means of grace theology. I suppose however you could say that this is merely truth in advertising.
That it happened is undeniable. It is now a public link on their web site. Perhaps the district sponsoring this mission congregation will help us all understand why, and how, this flagrant violation of our confessional commitments happened.
The person giving the sermon is Shaun Groves. Who is he? “Shaun Groves is a communicator who’s known by a lot of titles: Singer/songwriter. Speaker. Blogger. Husband. Daddy. Friend. He feels and thinks deeply and laughs easily. And he’s helping Christians discover what they were saved for, and being a voice for children around the world, desperate to be saved from poverty.” Here’s a link to his web site.
And, here’s a picture of the sermon delivery.
One of the finest resources available to help parents discuss matters of human sexuality with their children is Concordia Publishing House’s Learning About Sex. In the past few years it was updated and reformatted, and divided into a boy’s edition and girl’s edition. It is simply outstanding. It is on sale now. You can purchase the full set of 11 books for only $99.99, that’s a $40 savings. There are five volumes in the set, in age appropriate levels, for boys, and five for girls. The set also comes with an updated guide for parents. You can place your order here, and use Code YLN to receive the $40 discount. Here’s a sample from the book in the series for boys, age 10-12, do a “save as” or right click this link, and it will download to your computer as a PDF file: 142136
Vatican City, 10 March 2012 (VIS) – This morning, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs, presented the Holy Father with the 2012 edition of the “Annuario Pontificio” or pontifical yearbook, and the “Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae”. Also present were the officials responsible for compiling and printing the volumes.
A note concerning the presentation highlights some of the facts contained in the new edition. In 2011, the Pope erected eight new episcopal sees, one personal ordinariate and one military ordinariate. One archdiocese and eight dioceses were elevated to the rank of metropolitan see; one prelature, one apostolic vicariate and one apostolic prefecture were elevated to the rank of diocese, and one “sui iuris” mission was elevated to the rank of apostolic prefecture.
The statistical information, which refers to the year 2010, reveals details about the Catholic Church in the 2,966 ecclesiastical circumscriptions on the planet. The number of Catholics in the world moved from 1,181 million in 2009 to 1,196 million in 2010, an increase of fifteen million faithful, corresponding to a growth of 1.3 percent. Over the last two years the presence of baptised Catholics in the world has remained stable at around 17.5 per cent.
The number of Catholics with respect to the total population varies considerably between the continents. Their numbers have dropped in South America (from 28.54 per cent to 28.34 per cent) and in Europe (from 24.05 per cent to 23.83 per cent), while they have increased in Africa (from 15.15 per cent to 15.55 per cent) and in South-East Asia (from 10.47 per cent to 10.87 per cent).
The number of bishops went from 5,065 to 5,104, a growth of 0.77 per cent. This increase involved Africa (sixteen new bishops), America (fifteen) and Asia (twelve), while numbers fell slightly in Europe (from 1,607 to 1,606) and in Oceania (from 132 to 129).
The steady increase in the number of priests which began in the year 2000 has continued. In 2010 their numbers stood at 412,236, composed of 227,009 diocesan priests and 135,227 regular priests; whereas in 2009 they numbered 410,593 (275,542 diocesan and 135,051 regular). The number of clergy has increased in Asia (by 1695), Africa (765), Oceania (52) and the Americas (42), while their numbers have fallen by 905 in Europe.
Numbers of permanent deacons have increased by 3.7 per cent, from 38,155 in 2009 to 39,564 in 2010. They are present above all in North America and Europe, which respectively represent 64.3 per cent and 33.2 per cent of the world total.
The negative tendency in the number of non-ordained male religious reversed, as their number passed from 54,229 in 2009 to 54,665 in 2010. Numbers fell by 3.5 per cent in South America and by 0.9 per cent in North America, in Europe they remained stationary while Asia and Africa saw an increase of 4.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.
The number of female religious is undergoing a strong decline, moving from 729,371 in 2009 to 721,935 in 2010. Numbers fell by 2.9 per cent in Europe, by 2.6 per cent in Oceania and by 1.6 per cent the Americas. Nonetheless they increased by around 2 per cent in both Africa and Asia
The number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan and religious seminaries has increased constantly over the last five years, from 114,439 in 2005 to 111,990 in 2010, a growth of 4 per cent.
Numbers of major seminarians have fallen by 10.4 per cent in Europe, and by 1.1 per cent in the Americas, but are increasing in Africa (14.2 per cent,) Asia (13 per cent) and Oceania (12.3 per cent).
Why the “I Did It My Way” Approach is No More Appropriate When Wearing a Chausable Than When Wearing Only Dockers and a Polo Shirt
That blog post title got your attention, didn’t it? Good! Now, let me say this very carefully: this is not about chasables, or however you spell that word, it is about the principle of the benefit of the greatest amount of uniformity as possible. If you refuse to understand this point, you don’t understand how Lutherans approach questions of ceremony and liturgy.
A confessional Lutheran pastor in Germany sent me these very informative, helpful and deeply thoughtful comments, and I’m passing them along to you. I have put in bold and underlined the comment that some of my friends who love to add ceremonies to the Lutheran service simply are failing to account for and, frankly, I am convinced they really just don’t want to hear this, because there is within every American Lutheran the “I did it my way” American love of freedom, liberty and “rights” to do what one feels is “best.”
The last days I watched the discussion on Facebook and in your blog concerning high church liturgy. Here in Germany there is also a High Church Association within the churches of the EKD. Its roots go back to movements after WW I which eventually found a leader in Friedrich Heiler, a Roman Catholic theologian who became evangelical without leaving Roman doctrines behind. Hermann Sasse wrote an article about him and his movement in 1944 which is now reprinted in Sasse (2011), In statu confessionis 3, 231-260. The main distinguishing features of high church theologians in Germany are their zeal to get the “apostolic succession” by the laying on of hands (mostly in Scandinavia or by sympathizing Roman Catholic bishops) and to restore the practices of the Roman mass especially in regard to sacrifice language to make the “lacking” Lutheran liturgy “whole” once more.
When I studied in Münster/Westf. in 1992, I had a seminar with Prof. Martin Brecht about Luther’s reform of the mass. There we compiled the main concerns of the reformer in regard to worship in consequently purging all allusions or references to sacrifice in the Last Supper. Since the EKD was preparing a reform of their main agendas in that time, we compared Luther’s goals with tendencies in VELKD Lutheranism to incorporate prayers for celebrating the mass right out of the post-Vaticanum II Missale Romanum in their new book of worship. Of course, Prof. Brecht was highly critical of theses tendencies.
A few weeks ago you mentioned the liturgy of XYZ Lutheran Church in XYZ. I have found their ordinary of the mass as PDF on their web site. This is a most disturbing text. We not only have here problematic allusions to the intercession of the departed saints which, in my opinion, are not in accordance with Apology XXI (IX) – this tendency of invoking the intercession of the saints also exists in German High Church circles as their breviary shows in the order of Compline -, in this ordinary there are parts which speak of the Last Supper as being our offering to God. This is pure heresy and should not be tolerated in a Lutheran congregation. It is disturbing how far some are willing to go in “rediscovering lost treasures of liturgy”. The Roman Mass is no way a role model for Lutheran masses.
Another point often overlooked in High church circles is the fact that not all Lutheran churches in Germany followed Luther’s Deutsche Messe from 1525. The Lutheran Church of Württemberg with Johannes Brenz reformed their worship after the model of the medieval Prädikantengottesdienst (a simple service of the word which contained the Last supper at least once in a month). This form is used up to this day. Luther knew about the Württemberg ordinary and approved it. He deemed it not necessary that all churches had to follow the form of the mass. (But I like Luther’s form better than the Württemberg one.)
As problematic as it is that some congregations abandon the service book in favor of contemporary worship, it is equally problematic if a congregation abandons the order of service chosen by a given church body (synod) in favor of high church liturgy because the consent of all congregations is lost. Luther pointed out that, though a congregation is free to order its worship as it seems fit, it should always seek the harmony with other congregations of a given area (Letter to the Christians in Liefland 1525). Since the LCMS gave itself four forms in the LSB, it is not appropriate when a congregation ignores them in favor of their own form.
So, these were just some ramblings and musings I had to ventilate after reading the ordinary from the congregation in XYZ.
And, let’s remind ourselves, once again, of Martin Luther’s extremely important and wise counsel:
In the first place, I would kindly and for God’s sake request all those who see this order of service or desire to follow it: Do not make it a rigid law to bind or entangle anyone’s conscience, but use it in Christian liberty as long, when, where, and how you find it to be practical and useful. For this is being published not as though we meant to lord it over anyone else, or to legislate for him, but because of the widespread demand for German masses and services and the general dissatisfaction and offense that has been caused by the great variety of new masses, for everyone makes his own order of service. Some have the best intentions, but others have no more than an itch to produce something novel so that they might shine before men as leading lights, rather than being ordinary teachers—as is always the case with Christian liberty: very few use it for the glory of God and the good of the neighbor; most use it for their own advantage and pleasure. But while the exercise of this freedom is up to everyone’s conscience and must not be cramped or forbidden, nevertheless, we must make sure that freedom shall be and remain a servant of love and of our fellow-man.
Where the people are perplexed and offended by these differences in liturgical usage, however, we are certainly bound to forego our freedom and seek, if possible, to better rather than to offend them by what we do or leave undone. Seeing then that this external order, while it cannot affect the conscience before God, may yet serve the neighbor, we should seek to be of one mind in Christian love, as St. Paul teaches [Rom. 15:5-6; 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 2:2]. As far as possible we should observe the same rites and ceremonies, just as all Christians have the same baptism and the same sacrament [of the altar] and no one has received a special one of his own from God…For if I should try to make it up out of my own need (an order of service), it might turn into a sect.” (emphasis my own) (LW, Volume 53, Liturgy and Hymns, pages 61 and 64)