18 May 2007

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly

What little fare we settle for! I was reading in Chemnitz' Examen today his description of Church life in Braunschweig, where he served as the Superintendent (or Bishop). He speaks of DAILY matins and vespers in the churches (with sermons - yup, count them up: preaching sermons in the parishes in the number of 15 a week minimum - hey, with that much practice I might finally learn how to do it!). He specifically mentions at these services that "a number of psalms" are chanted and that readings are distributed "in an orderly manner" from the Old (usually at Matins) and the New Testament (usually at Vespers).

He speaks of the people gathering in larger numbers for the praying of litanies on certain week days.

He speaks of a multitude of people assembling on Sundays "with great regularity to sing the praises of the Lord, to hear and meditate upon the Word, for use of the sacraments, for public prayers, and for the gathering of alms..."

He clearly implies not only Vespers on Saturday and Matins on Sunday morning with the Chief Service, but also Vespers on Sunday afternoon.

And he speaks of celebrating with great devotion "solemn festivals about the chief benefits of Christ, and of the principle points of the heavenly doctrine." He speaks of the three-day celebrations of the Nativity (and implies the three day celebrations of Easter and Pentecost); Circumcision; Epiphany; Purification; Baptism of our Lord; Annunciation of Mary; Maundy Thursday; Good Friday; Resurrection; Ascension; Pentecost; Nativity of the Baptist; Visitation of the Virgin; Michaelmas.

He mentions the 40 days of Lent and the setting aside of the four sets of ember days for "the customary treatment of the Catechism."

He mentions the blessing of the set readings for all these occasions.

Thus, he can say: "With the superstitions removed, the true and useful festivals of the ancient church are celebrated among us for church gatherings, and with such devotion and peity that there is no doubt that under the blessing of God piety is kindled and increased, since the people are taught that the Holy Spirit wants to be efficacious through the ministry of Word and Sacrament, and that Christ wants to be in the midst of those who are gathered together in His name."

I read through it and think: that's a tall mountain to climb, but would it not be a joyous one?

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