On Thursday I had a hospital call over in St. Louis, so I stopped in at CPH and was able to pick up the LSB Agenda. Just a few initial thoughts...
WOW! AWESOME! INCREDIBLE!
Okay, okay, so I do tend to get a little excited. I admit it. But honestly, what a book! It's not just a collection of rites that a pastor needs to carry out everything but the Mass and the Daily Office, it is a veritable handbook of pastoral theology. Yes, extended introductions to each section of the Agenda remind the pastor of the theology of the particular section, and does so in an exceptional way. I have no way of knowing, but it sounds like Pastor Peter Bender had a hand in writing these introductions.
"The agenda rites are best seen in the light of the Divine Service, which stands at the center of the Church's life. The liturgy itself is the primary place for ongoing pastoral care as week after week Christians are called together in the name of the triune God to receive His gifts in sermon and Sacrament and are enlivened to live in Christ by faith and in love towards the neighbor. All pastoral care radiates from the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments and ultimately culminates in the reception of the Lord's gifts proclaimed and distributed in the liturgy. Just as the planets are in orbit around the sun, so the rites of pastoral care revolve around the Divine Service, reflecting the light of Christ's on our living and dying, hallowing grief and pain with His promises." (p. viii)
"The liturgy has a cumulative effect in the care of the soul. Sure and certain gifts are going into people, strengthening and building them up for the long haul of life under the cross." (p. ix)
Yes, yes, and yes.
As to specifics in the rites, I am especially delighted to see the rite for First Communion Prior to Confirmation come into its own. Very well done, and may it substantially lower the age when the baptized children are given the Supper in our Churches!
More later, but I was studying the prefaces and introductions again this morning and was very, very impressed by the careful theological underpinings provided. Clearly written by those who 1) know that lex orandi equals lex credendi and 2) who take serious the lex credendi of the Lutheran Church. Kudos, Agenda Committee!