Tuesday, March 13, 2012

ramblings on faith, life and spring

All right, so that title is a little ambitious. But remember that these are ramblings and therefore can go wherever the feeling leads me. I dare not say wherever the Spirit leads me, because then we must test the spirits and see if it from God or from man. Those from the Lord are blessed while those from man are merely thoughts that can mislead or even destroy.

Spring first. What is up with this weather? It feels more like it should be late April or early May than mid-March. We haven't hit the midpoint in March and we are having a week of 70+ weather with lows in the upper 50's and lower 60's. We slept with the window open most of the night last night. And is is ONLY March 13. Does this bode well for spring/summer or does it give us a warning of what is to be? Will summer be overly warm? Or perhaps things will get really mixed up and we will have a cool summer. We will know come August and September. Just like we now know that this last winter was a mild one, not giving us much snow or cold - though in other areas of the country they might argue with us about that. While one area is mild, another is severe. That is the nature of the beast.

I must say that I am enjoying this warm weather. We clipped a few daffodils and brought them in yesterday. How nice it is to have fresh flowers in the house. Gives a certain cheery look to the house that you can't have in the middle of winter. Thanks Lord! You designed the most wonderful things when You made this world and all that is in it. Sorry that we mess it up so badly.

Faith - I have been thinking about Mandi's question of what makes a good Lutheran as opposed to a good Christian. I used that term in my ramblings as a way of showing the difference between the high church and low church people. Perhaps it is an unfair term but it is one I use because it is what I feel. When I am in the midst of the discussion on the types of liturgy or worship that is used, I use the term "good Lutheran" as one that is set up by others to define who is right and who is wrong. A "good Lutheran" in this sense is the one that loves the liturgy, desires that the pastor chants the service, leads high church, extremely liturgical service, and sees all else that is done by others in the church as less than worthwhile of being called Lutheran. This may be an unfair statement but that is what I begin to feel in the midst of the worship wars that go on. Would those on the side of high church say these things? No they wouldn't. But that is how they make someone like me feel. Since I am not so "knowledgeable" in liturgical practices, since I do not chant, wear a chasuble, participate in a Gospel procession or kiss the altar at the appropriate times in the service, then I am not truly a "good Lutheran." (I know, cry fowl. That is unfair! You can't say those things. This is my ramblings and my feelings. It is what is laid out that there without saying the words.)

What truly makes a good Lutheran? It is a person who holds firmly to the Word of God as the sole source of life and doctrine. It is a person who is faithful to the Confessions of the Church. It is a person who does not focus on his own self but on what the Lord desires for his life. It is a person who know that salvation comes to him only through the blood of Jesus Christ, not by his decision, not by his actions but by the grace and mercy of God who works in his life through the blessed Means of Grace - Word and Sacraments (in which we have 2, Baptism and Lord's Supper). It is a person who knows that the rites and rituals of the service don't make him more Lutheran or less Lutheran. He knows that the pastor can wear a cassock and surplice, an alb or a suit and the divine worship is still the divine worship. He know that a spoken service is just as edifying as a chanted service and that no one can say one is right and one is wrong just because he doesn't prefer one or the other. He knows that you can sing a hymn from LSB, LW or TLH to the powerful sound of the pipe organ as well as a contemporary praise song (that is doctrinally correct of course0 to the music of a praise band that includes a guitar, bass, keyboard and drums as well as a Sunday School type song without anything accompaniment at all. He knows that his pastor can bow before the altar or not bow before the altar and it is all right - because we do not worship the altar but the one who has given us the altar. He is certain that the Lord is present in high church, low church, middle church, or contemporary service and that as the pastor is faithful to the Word, the Confessions and to the practices/doctrines of the Lutheran Church he is leading his people faithfully in that time and place.

I am sure that I have forgotten something or perhaps have misstated something. This hasn't been through doctrinal review. But then again, there are those things that go through doctrinal review that some still disagree with. When we say that we must use only CPH hymnals (dead horse, I know), I know of a highly conservative, "true Lutheran" pastor who would rather not use All God's People Sing because he doesn't feel that it is of the same value or strength as TLH. There are those who were adamantly opposed to Lutheran Worship. It was seen as liberal and not fit for a truly conservative Lutheran Church, who now embrace Lutheran Service Book because it is a correct and true hymnal of the church even though it has "How Great Thou Art" which I can remember being taught is a hymn that shouldn't be used in the church because it wasn't truly Lutheran. Times have changed, haven't they?

So what of all this? I once wore a cassock and surplice for a worship service. When asked why I wore it, I answer, "Because as a Lutheran, I can." I am not bound by any liturgical law that says I can't or that says I must. I can lead worship in a suit or in an alb and chasuble. And one is not better than another. One might desire it one way and another desire it another. To say "you must" steps beyond what Lutheranism says. I do not "have" to wear a certain thing in order to lead worship. The outer wear does not make it more Lutheran or less Lutheran. I am free to go any direction, until I say that one is the only way to go. Then I am wrong. I am also wrong to make a fellow brother feel that he is wrong because he doesn't follow the practice that I have adopted or desire. For me to tell a brother that he cannot be high church is wrong. So is he wrong to tell me that I must be high church. That is a desire of the heart, a practice of the congregation (that will follow the way of the pastor if he lovingly leads them in that direction rather than coming in and being a bull in the china shop in order to get his way),

All right I hope I answered Mandi's question. Where there any straw men in this one? Probably. But then again, we all set them up. To say that to take people back into the high church, extreme liturgy worship is no different than using an altar, pulpit, hymnal or alb is a straw man. After all, there was several generations that lived and died without chanting or high church worship but at the same time still used the altar, pulpit, etc. They would have been offended if the pastor chanted. They would have been appalled at the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The straw man says that we are just doing what is accepted but the reality says, we are going back much further than Lutheranism in the USA. All right history people, come down on me an correct me. But I will show you Art Troge or Norman Rex both of whom would walk out on you in your were to try to high church them in a worship service but they were devote, God-fearing Lutherans who could pass the blood test for Lutheranism. They lived, breathed and loved the writings of Martin Luther and held firmly to their Lutheran teachings and church. You are not "going back" to their church. They would have scoffed at that thought.

I end there. for I have rambled more that I wanted. Sorry. Test the spirits. And may the Lord bless your day.

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