Stella found several colors of lipstick this evening. She likes lipstick.
Wednesday School was a lot of fun today. Of course we went through the lesson. Alyssa, the parish secretary, has even found us some more catechisms of the edition we use here. They're out of print now. The newer version uses a Bible translation that is different from the one we use in our liturgy and worship. Evidently one person, on his own, decided to use a different translation than was used by our Synod in it's liturgy and Hymnal. That renders the new version useless to us in our parish, where we try to keep consistent wording with minimal changes.
Part of our Wednesday School curriculum is instruction in and understanding of the sources and uses of each part of our worship services. We started on the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, Rite 1, the Opening Prayer. The point is to enable the students to know where each part of our worship services come from in the Bible, why they are used in the service--especially at this particular part; and how to explain to others who don't know why we do things the way we do.
So many today in Confessional Lutheran Synods are turning to contemporary worship forms as a way to keep the youth from leaving their congregations. In reality, I think that they are yearning for kings like the other nations have. Now many of them have trained up a generation which has no outward liturgical mark that would distinguish it from the Methodist church or any E.Free church. So, it's no wonder that the kids are leaving in droves. They can't see or feel any difference. Why should they stay? And now some leaders within Confessional Lutheranism are promoting this garbage as if it's the answer to that loss, when it is in fact the main contributing factor to that loss. If there is no difference in worship form or format from the reformed churches, why bother with attending an Orthodox Confessional Lutheran congregation when you're away from home?
I, for one, want my kids to feel very uncomfortable when they attend a Reformed, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, E-Free or any other denominational church. I want it to seem weird, unfriendly, artificial, and creepy. I want them to feel that such a worship service is wrong as well as know from Scripture why it is wrong. There are times, like funerals of a loved one, when we cannot think. But if we can feel that something is not quite right, we might be able-later on, when we can think again-to honestly examine what was done in light of Scripture.
But with the growing adoption of contemporary worship in Confessional Lutheranism there is nothing the kids are growing up with that will visually, esthetically, melodically, hymnically, liturgically or even homiletically distinguish their Confessional Lutheran doctrine in worship from all the morass of popular Christianity out there today. There will be no sense of danger, no warning flags, no uncomfortableness, no reason to seek out a Confessional church.
A year ago, when my family went on our vacation we stopped at a church within our "official" fellowship. Mary opened the door and I heard, "Boom-, chick, chick; Boom-, chick, chick; Bzhhh, whaaa, zheeee, zoooooo; Boom-, chick, chick; Praise God, Hallelu-iah, Boom-, chick, chick"
I said, "Close the door, Mary. Were not stopping here."
Why did I say that? Firstly, I was on vacation. I didn't want to have to deal with an issue where a pastor might be compromising on the doctrine of Scripture during worship. I was lazy and just wanted to be able to get along. But secondly, this "Boom-,chick,chick" electric guitar, trapset, and synthesizer pop-schlock slapped me in the face and said "Hey, we're just like the other pop-culture churches out there. You can trust us, we're comfortable, we're hip, we're contemporary, we're relevant. We don't put up with no fuddy-duddy traditionalist worship. We want to appeal to your senses. We want you to dance, grind your hips, flap your arms, and show the world how wonderful God can be. We're not concerned about the Scriptural basis of Confessional Lutheran Worship. We just want you to come and join us."
Here's what the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord says in the article on Adiaphora:
"Likewise, when there are useless, foolish displays, that are profitable neither for good order nor Christian discipline, nor evangelical propriety in the Church, these also are not genuine adiaphora, or matters of indifference." (section 7)and in sections 10-11:
"We believe, teach, and confess also that at the time of confession [when a confession of the heavenly truth is required], when the enemies of God's Word desire to suppress the pure doctrine of the holy Gospel, the entire congregation of God, yea, every Christian, but especially the ministers of the Word, as the leaders of the congregation of God [as those whom God has appointed to rule His Church], are bound by God's Word to confess freely and openly the [godly] doctrine, and what belongs to the whole of [pure] religion, not only in words, but also in works and with deeds; and that then, in this case, even in such [things truly and of themselves] adiaphora, they must not yield to the adversaries, or permit these [adiaphora] to be forced upon them by their enemies, whether by violence or cunning, to the detriment of the true worship of God and the introduction and sanction of idolatry. For it is written, Gal. 5, 1: Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage. Also Gal. 2, 4f : And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you."Surely today is a time when a Confessional distinction is required between the pop-Christianity in America and true Orthodox Confessional Lutheranism, both in doctrine and in worship. Confessional Lutherans are assaulted every day on so-called "Christian" radio, television, and bookstores by this false pop-Christianity that focuses on works, sanctification, relevancy, utility, and the glory of God over and against the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins for the sake of Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament.
It's of great sadness to me that in today's pop climate that there are some churches within our fellowship who would rather do away with the name "Lutheran" and desire not to "offend" people with such things as Closed Communion. There are even a few congregations whose pastors have decided that in their web pages and their publications that they don't even mention that they focus on the proper administration of Word and Sacrament.
If they are ashamed of the Sacraments by which God has said He creates and nourishes faith, why should any Christian ever desire to attend their worship service?
As for me and my parish, we will continue in the ministry of Word and Sacrament without all the pop culture hullabaloo. No Powerpoint in our worship services. No "boom-,chick,chick" in order to attract people and show them how "hip" we are. St. Paul's "becoming all things to all people" does not mean that we minimize or even, God forbid, compromise the proper distinction between Law and Gospel in worship.
Here, we approach God through our Baptisms by which God has called us His own.
Here, we confess our base sinful nature and our own actual sins by commission and omission, in thought, word, and deed.
Here, we receive the absolution instituted by Christ in John 20 through the properly called minister of Word and Sacrament. And we have the confidence that our sins are forgiven even if the pastor (that's me) might be a hypocrite. Why? Because the absolution rests on Christ's institution, fulfillment, and promise. It does not depend in any way on the situation of the pastor's faith.
Here, we read the Bible out loud to the hearers, lessons from the Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospels. All of these are arranged through the year in a cycle that has been tested for a millennium and a half. We use the Historic selection of readings because they present the full counsel of God each year. Reminding the hearers of and refreshing them on the whole doctrine of God's Word and where it is found in His Word.
Here, we confess our faith publicly in the words of the Three Ecumenical Creeds without the pathetic modern language adaptations that dismiss the facts that Christ is male, or that He descended to Hell, or that He rose physically from the dead, or that we shall rise physically from the dead at the last day.
Here, we sing hymns and songs that confess, teach, proclaim, and petition God in His Grace in Christ on the basis of Scripture and the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. These hymns have lyrics of Biblical substance, not the "God, you're really big. God, you're really awesome. God, you're really cool. And we want to lift you up" sentimental schlock that pop-Christianity thrives on.
Here, we have a sermon based on God's Word and the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, not on the basis of the pastors ability to tell good anecdotes, stories, to get a good feeling going, or to guilt people into donating money.
Here, we are fed by the Lord Jesus Christ in His Closed Communion of Saints in the Church Militant with His true Body and Blood. The same Body and Blood which He sacrificed for us on the Cross-through which He unites us to Himself and each other.
And here, we do not have a "fellowship" hall. We have a dining room. Fellowship is at the altar through the Body and Blood of Christ given and shed for us to eat and drink. The dining hall is for eating earthly food for the body. The Altar is for Fellowship in Christ and the forgiveness of sins.