01 August 2007

Primarily a catechetical service

Easy to miss the first rubric under Service of Prayer and Preaching in LSB:

1. This order is primarily intended as a catechetical service, which could be used for new member classes.

This fall, St. Paul's will take this rubric to heart and begin to offer the new member and catechism class for public school children as a unified experience, using this liturgy from LSB. As observed earlier on this blog, it's the old Catechism service of the early Missouri Synod with a few additions.

Benefits to using this liturgy?

* It teaches the faith in the context of worship, prayer, and song.
* It provides a unified experience of catechesis for both youth and adults.
* It teaches the "core texts" of the Catechism by weekly repetition.
* It dovetails beautifully with the Lutheran Catechesis series by Pastor Peter Bender.

We're giving it a whirl at St. Paul's beginning this September. 24 times the service will be offered, and we'll use Lutheran Service Builder to provide a complete worship folder for each week with the assigned catechism for daily recitation included.

Of course, the rotten rubric is number 2: "This order may also be used at Sunday services when the Lord's Supper is not offered." EXCUSE ME! WHY should there EVER be a Sunday service where the Lord's Supper is not offered? If a single person in the parish wishes to receive on the Lord's Day, we have no right to deny them! I'm glad that so many of our parishes have restored the weekly Eucharist. This service makes sense under rubric 1, but under rubric 2 it is pure nonsense! What parish is there among us where there is no Christian hungering for the Lord's Body and Blood on a given Lord's Day???


Joel said...

I've been agitating for weekly Communion at our (LCMS) church for about a year now. The excuse given for not changing the current practice of twice-monthly Communion is that the church doesn't have a permanent pastor yet. (We are currently in the call process.) One of the elders once stunned me with the question, Why would you want to have weekly Communion?

Any suggestions?

Dixie said...

The former pastor at my husband's Lutheran Church pressed for and implemented Communion every Sunday at both services...that was about 6 or 7 years ago. At first the Altar Guild balked at the extra work and the Elders balked and the increase in expenses for that line item but the pastor was not deterred by those concerns...now from what I hear the congregation can't imagine not having Communion at both services every Sunday.

I am wondering, however, what was the original Lutheran practice, when did it change and why. Would you know? Was fasting prior to Communion ever common with Lutherans? If so, when was that abandoned or do any congregations still encourage fasting before Communion. Are the trends for these things different in Europe and other parts of the world than they are in the US? Surely some enterprising Lutheran grad student has done a paper on this!

Identifying the roots of change in practice is very interesting to me...you know...like the Eastern Orthodox sharing one spoon!

saxoniae said...

Pastor Weedon,

Where is that rubric? I looked in my LSB and didn't see it.

Mike Baker said...

The reply I would give to those who want to preserve a less frequent Communion schedule is, "What's so great about keeping twice-monthly Communion?"

I don't understand why weekly communion is automatically suspect until proven worthy. Should not the burden of defense be the other way around?

When military duty takes me away from my home church, I visit the local LCMS churches when I can get released from duty on Sunday morning. Often times, I walk in off the street to a church that is on one of thier "odd" Sundays where there is no Communion [this term "odd" is ironically appropriate!]

These churches are always very apologetic and embarassed that the Supper was not offered when I visited. They often use the same excuses a host gives for a messy house when a guest arrives unannounced. Deep down, their guilt over the matter reveales that they know that they dropped the ball. I wonder if they apologize to every visitor who shows up on "odd" Sundays.

I now call the local churches in advance to find out which ones are gathering around the Sacrament on the Sunday that I am going to visit the area.

[Insert a shameless plug for the synodical website's congregation locator. If that isn't troop support, I don't know what is!]

In response to Dixie's first question about what the original Lutheran tradition is, I offer this sliver of confessional text:

"At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we do not abolish the Mass, but
religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated EVERY LORD'S DAY AND ON THE OTHER FESTIVALS, IN WHICH THE SACRAMENT IS OFFERED TO THOSE WHO WISH TO USE IT, [emphasis added] after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things."

-Apology of the Augsburg Confession [AP XXIV:1]

Jim Roemke said...

We will also be doing this at Good Shepherd. We will have a Sunday afternoon catechesis followed by Vespers and the Service of Prayer and Preaching for the Catechumens and the congregation at large on Wednesday. We will be spending 6 weeks on each of the chief parts. They have never done this before at Good Shepherd, but so far the response has been great.

Susan said...

For about half a year, we used the Service of Prayer and Preaching to begin and end every Thursday Bible Class. I like it! We also used it some evenings for Didache/catechesis. Now we've begun to branch out to Responsive Prayer and Matins for some Thursday mornings.

As to why this is recommended for Sunday services occasionally? When the pastor is gone. Yooou peeeeople ;-) who live close to St Louis and Fort Wayne seem to forget that in some places there are NO substitute pastors to be had on a Sunday morning. So for that one Sunday every third year when Pastor dares to take a vacation, or that Sunday when the pastor is suddenly hospitalized, the Service of Prayer and Preaching is something that a seminarian or kantor or elder can lead.

Brian said...

Pastor Weedon.

Hello. I hope you don't mind my commenting this here (I couldn't find your e-address) but I have a small stack of decent Lutheran books that I'm getting rid of and I've posted them on my own blog site.

I thought maybe your readers might want find them interesting.

I hope things in the Edwardsville erea, my homewtown, are fine. Things here in Maryland are crabby. Non-Marylanders please ignore that last line ;-)

Christine said...

Dixie, as far as Lutherans in Europe go my mother grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of East Prussia. I suspect that during her upbringing there was still a lingering influence from the era of 1817, when King Frederick William III of Prussia ordered the Lutheran and Reformed churches in his territory to unite, forming the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union, a predecessor to today's Evangelical Church in Germany.

The Confessional Lutherans dissented and formed independent churches, holding that Reformed doctrine and Lutheran doctrine are contradictory on many points (especially on the nature of the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper), and such doctrinal differences preclude altar fellowship.

The Confessional Lutherans were persecuted during the 1800s by the state. Many of them were not allowed to have church services or get their children baptized or confirmed according to the liturgy of the Lutheran Church. In some areas of Germany, it took decades until the Confessional Lutherans were granted religious freedom.

Now as far as I remember my mother's Lutheran upbringing did uphold the traditional Confessional positions regarding the Lord's Supper and Baptism, but I clearly remember her telling me that her pastors wore the black "Geneva" robes and Holy Communion was celebrated about four times a year (under the belief that it would lose its special character if celebrated more frequently, which was considered a "Roman" practice). She did tell me that when Holy Communion was offered it was a very special event in her family.

I don't believe that fasting was practiced at all in my mother's church. In her Lutheran culture the preaching of the Word gained a definite ascendancy after the Reformation over celebration of the Lord's Supper.

You may have noticed during your time as a Lutheran that in many Lutheran churches in America the lamp of the Presence that burns before the tabernacle in Catholic Churches was placed by the lectern in order to emphasize the presence of Christ in his Word.

Not all Lutherans have yet recovered the weekly celebration of Holy Communion, but progress has definitely been made.

Joel said...

Fasting before Holy Communion has definite appeal as a preparation, but has anybody else noticed that in the New Testament the Lord's Supper was held within the context of a meal--the Passover or the Agape? It seems that the earliest Tradition of the Church was to eat before Communion.

Past Elder said...

Ah, black Genevas!

In my early days as a Lutheran, in WELS, I noticed that some pastors vested in alb and stole Vatican II style (no chasuble of course) while some wore sort of a cross between a cassock and a choir robe, so I asked my pastor what that was all about -- which turn out to be my introduction to What Is Pietism, What is the Prussian Union, What Are Free Churches, and my first clue that WELS was not now what it had always been!

I had no idea of the associations Black Genevas brought with them. For a time I was probably the only guy ever for the celebration of the Common Service by a pastor in a suit. We should have known each other back then geliebte Schwester!

It's interesting to me that the loss of real confessional Lutheran observance begun with the Prussian Union, which in order to escape many came here, has continued here by an assimilation with American Protestantism. In the old country we at least had the excuse that it was state enforced. Here -- we've done it to ourselves! Unglaublich! And now the Vatican II for Lutherans infesting us since the LBW even into the LSB. Was noch?

Past Elder said...

You might enjoy this too Christine, given what you hear from me on other blogs. Years ago I was part of a group that met in the basement of an LCMS church. I used to pass by the sanctuary on the way downstairs and peek in. There was the lamp of the presence, and by the altar. I used to think ow characteristically Lutheran: keep the lamp and deny what it signifies, the presence of Christ in the consecrated hosts in the tabernacle fulfilling the showbread in the Temple, just the sort of thing that happens when you attempt to be Catholic without being Catholic! Yes, that was me!

But at least, I thought, you gotta give them E for effort, at least they're trying -- the bleeding Catholics stuck the tabernacle and light off to the side in Cromwellian fashion but still genuflect to where it used to be and one of these days he's going to shout Hey I'm over here, the yo-yos put me over here!

wm cwirla said...

The Liturgy Subcommittee did not intend that this service be used in place of the Divine Service, but we recognized that some congregations, following the pattern of Bach's Leipzig congregation, offer catechetical teaching/services on Sunday afternoons or as an added service on Sunday morning.

While I would not encourage its use as a substitute for the Divine Service, it is far better than the dry-Mass that TLH propagated with p. 5.

Larry said...

"Public School Children"

Why do we continue to label children either Lutheran School Children or “Public School Children?” (quotation marks intentional) I've even seen the demarcation in church bulletins. I've heard Lutheran School teachers speak of "Public School Mentality." What is that? Do my children have some percentage of Lutheran Mentality and Public Mentality unduly thrown upon them because of the geographic locations where I have worked?

I have three children who have been in both Lutheran Schools and Publics schools basically as a matter of where we have lived and the opportunity which our location afforded to attend "Lutheran Schools" We have found great Christian educators in both school systems.

We treasure the Lutheran School system, it is truly a gem. However I do not believe we endear or encourage parents to bring their children to Lutheran Schools by setting forth a caste system with labels. I've even seen in a prominent Church Bulletin listing Acolytes who were named if they were in the Lutheran School and/or otherwise noted as "Public School" with no name listed. And so doing the caste/clique is cast.

Again Lutheran schools have been a blessing to all of my children, I believe a little forethought might encourage other parents to utilize this gem too...

That would be unified catechesis....

wm cwirla said...

Having attended public grammar and high schools, the University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkeley, I must agree wholeheartedly. The last thing we need is yet another division in the Body of Christ along the lines of which school do you attend.

I also rejoice greatly when some of our education majors from our Concordias go to teach in the public school system. They are often looked down upon for that decision as teachers are categorized in the same way.

Christine said...

We should have known each other back then geliebte Schwester!

Ja, mein Bruder, indeed we should have -- we could have done some mighty fine discoursing over a beer and good German wine (my one flaw as a German -- I hate beer !!)

I still remember when my mother, sister and I attended what is now an ELCA congregation but was formerly LCMS. It was a magnificently appointed church, with a woodcarved crucifix flanked by St. Mary, St. John and angels in adoration, the altar was still against the wall, the windows beautiful -- classic Gothic style. My mother never could get past the alb and stole that the pastors wore.

As far as the German Evangelical church goes, it is sobering to see what happened when they merged with the other congregational bodies in the U.S. that became the United Church of Christ. I have met some wonderful, warm, activist Christians in that body but I fear that they are on the road to unitarianism.

Actually, I found the fact that the lamp was placed near the lectern in Lutheran churches quite meaningful. I was fully aware that the practice in Catholic Churches was to place the lamp by the tabernacle but in a Lutheran context it made sense.

My parish, by the way, still keeps the Tabernacle on its altar right behind the main altar so no one needs to search. We do reserve the sacrament in an adoration chapel also.

I've noticed that in some of the newer church buildings the tabernacle is making its way back to a central location in the sanctuary.

The Lutheran schools that the LCMS has are one of its greatest treasures. Oh, for the days of the thundering voice of Oswald C.W. Hoffmann and Wally Schulz on the Lutheran hour.

That was my experience of the LCMS back in the day.

Christine said...

Oh, and what makes my mother's history even more interesting is that her parents' families were among the Lutherans expelled from the Salzburg region of Austria. Some of the Salzburger Lutherans went to Prussia and some immigrated to the U.S., founding the town of Ebenezer, Georgia.

I suspect that in the early days of the Church, particularly under the persecution of the Roman empire, the agape meals were very meaningful.

Many Protestant congregations continue the practice in their fellowship meals and potlucks, although usually after the service.

Definitely would be hard to replicate in suburban Catholic parishes which may offer Mass five times on a Sunday.

The closest I've seen is when my parish holds a supper in conjunction with the predominantly African American parish with whom we have a sister relationship. It's usually after the Saturday vigil mass when the folks from St. Cecilia's worship with us.

William Weedon said...

The designation "public school" is not derogatory. It just denotes those children from our parish who take confirmation at a time other than during the school day at our parish school.