16 September 2006

First Look at the Lutheran Service Book - Agenda

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...


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.

For example:

"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)

Or again:

"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!


Rev. Benjamin Mayes said...

It seems to me that confirmation can be given to younger children, but that it should precede first communion. If it's seen as a post-baptismal blessing, how can it come *after* first communion?

In LSB Agenda it seems that confirmation is being viewed not as a post-baptismal blessing, but as a ceremony (and perhaps blessing) marking the end of catechism study: catechism graduation, if you will. (See "Through the Church the Song Goes On.")

Since this has been incorporated into LSB, I accept it, but I don't really like it. Please correct me if you think I'm off base on this.

William Weedon said...

Pastor Mayes,

A few thoughts. One of the things that I think the LSB has in mind is that there should not be a single opportunity to rejoice in the gifts of Baptism - Confirmation as the rite is portrayed in the book is a major rejoicing in Baptism.

But so will be the yearly Easter Vigil, when the same words are used again.

I think the idea is that there should be in the church's liturgical practice numerous returns to the joys of Baptism - not merely a once in a life time return (aka Confirmation).

Thus, even in the anointing of the sick, the words used for the anointing are the words of the post-baptismal anointing and laying on of hands. At the confirmation, the words are the words of the post-baptismal anointing and laying on of hands. At the Vigil, the same goes. What LSB is offering is an opportunity to think of Confirmation not as stand alone remembrance of Baptism.

You referenced "Through the Church" - and in Burresonn's essay there, that is precisely what he proposes. Looks like his approach won the day.

Now, I would argue that the FIRST use of the post-baptismal blessing is the REAL confirmation in any case! Would you agree?

Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

Glad you're excited! Good for the adrenline to surge once in a while(I need more myself!). As a Byzantine it seems it would be easier to just return to the ancient practice of confirmation/chrismation immediately after baptism as the Eastern churches have always maintained. That way communion is given from that point onward. You Westerners make things so hard on yourselves! Anyway, I'm curious to check out all the new liturgical stuff even if it is LCMS. Thanks for the heads-up!


Pastor Saar said...

Pastor Weedon,
Prof. John Pless wrote the introduction to the Agenda. Various members of the committee wrote the section introductions, including as you suspected, Pr. Bender and yours truly. I'm quite pleased with the Agenda. I think it will prove to be a great resource for pastors. I used it this morning to install our Sunday school teachers and bless Bibles given to the Sunday school children.
Pastor Saar