Saturday, April 28, 2007


The new Lutheran hymnal

In our congregation, I haven't heard anything about the new hymnal for ELCA, although from time to time I read about it on the internet. These things take a long time to work through, and our congregation does very little that other Lutherans would recognize anyway, so we are not the audience. At our Mill Run location, there are no hymnals. I use the hymnal for hymns if it matches what's on the screen just because I hate to totally lose my music reading ability; occasionally it is needed for liturgy, but not often. So what I have here are comments (used with permission) excerpted from an e-mail from another Lutheran, a choir director in another denomination, who does know music and liturgy and attended a regional workshop:

"There were 141 registered; majority was made up of pastors, choir directors and those interested in ELCA worship. The presentation team consisted of 5 pastors and 2 laymen from the Northern Illinois Synod. They went through one complete service setting as well as playing a very fine DVD hosted by Rev. Mark Hanson on the birth and completion of this new hymnal.

From the voices around me, I knew I was in the company of people who love to sing, know how to sing and have little trouble with rhythm or range.

I was impressed with the amount of information contained in this new hymnal. The line drawings, alone, were worth the price of the book.

But I came away feeling that those who put the hymns together did not give much consideration to range: many ran up to Ds, Es and even Fs on the treble clef. Too high for most congregations.

And the number of choices of service settings, prayers and responses was overwhelming. Putting hymns from WOV and the purple Hymnal Supplement into this new ELW was a great idea, but they overdid it on the liturgical variety.

I know it's been over 30 years since the green hymnal publication but I left the meeting wondering if the cost to each congregation was worth the gain in newer, more contemporary hymns and ten Holy Communion settings."

Ten communion settings? Silly me, we're lucky at our church to use one and only the older people know it. I'm almost afraid to see what 10 different settings can do to gender-free pronouns.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Was I the only Christian disappointed?

I thought it was good that the planners of the memorial service for the VA Tech students and faculty represented several faith groups: Sedki Riad, a Muslim, Julie Still, a Buddhist, Sue Kurtz, a Jew, and Bill King, a Lutheran. The campus is obviously very multi-cultural with many first and second generation Americans, and some of the dead were international students. The Muslim, Jew and Buddhist seemed to represent the beliefs of their faith, reading for comfort from their holy books, quoting their leaders even as they expressed their sorrow and disbelief. But the Lutheran pastor . . . well, here's what he said:

"We're gathered this afternoon for many purposes. To weep for lost friends and families, to mourn our lost innocence, to walk forward in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, to embrace hope in the shadow of despair, to join our voices and our longing for peace, healing and understanding which is much greater than any single faith community, to embrace that which unifies, and to reject the seductive temptation to hate."

"We gather together weeping, yes, we weep with an agony too deep for words and sighs that are inexpressible, but also we gather affirming the sovereignty of life over death. At a time such as this the darkness of evil seems powerful indeed. It casts a pall over our simple joys, joys as simple as playing Frisbee on the Drill Field. We struggle to imagine a future beyond this agony. If we ever harbored any illusions that our campus is an idyllic refuge from the violence of the rest the world, they are gone forever. And yet we come to this place to testify that the light of love cannot be defeated. Amid all our pain, we confess that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it," said King.

"We cannot undo yesterday's tragic events, but we can sit in patient silence with those who mourn as they seek for a way forward. As we share light one with another, we reclaim our campus. Let us deny death's power to rob us of all that we have loved about Virginia Tech, our community. Let us cast our lot with hope in defiance of despair," said King, who invited the convocation to a moment of silence. From The Lutheran (ELCA magazine).

Does this represent any particular faith perspective? If you didn't know it was spoken by a Lutheran pastor, would you even have identified the speaker as Christian, especially since he doesn't seem able or willing to identify the light shining in the darkness? Sad, very sad.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


A very sad interview

A young man from a counseling center--Christian or new age or secular, couldn't tell--was interviewed in Blacksburg today by Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts about how to counsel the parents and children in the aftermath of yesterday's shooting. Of course, he had no answers--who would? But he could have offered something positive and hopeful. He was either muzzled, tongue tied, or didn't know the Biblical truth that there is evil and sin in this world and that God has a plan. He stumbled around in some theological quicksand about "free will," but that was about as far as he got, and Robin even had to throw him a few prompts. Some students, however, knew the source of comfort.

Cross posted at Collecting my thoughts

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why is he still a priest?

Rev. Jeffrey John, an Anglican priest, didn't get to be bishop because of his long term homosexual affair, but apparently he can deny the most important belief in the Christian faith and insult millions of Christians living and dead, many who died for the belief he's ridiculing, and remain a priest. Some speculated on one web site that because the announcement was made on April 1, it was an April Fool's joke, but this is really nothing new for liberals. I've heard more "God is love" sermons that leave out human sin and the cross and how God wants to be our best friend no questions asked, than I care to remember.

Here's his Lenten talk on BBC. What drivel.

From Pierced for our transgressions, p. 216-217: These charges are extremely serious. We cannot pretend that critics of penal substitution are raising a minor point of dispute: they are accusing us of propagating a theological novelty, imposing our twisted modern world views on God's holy word, unwittingly encouraging and justifying sadistic acts of violence, and worshipping a malevolent, hypocritical deity who bears no resemblance whatsoever to the loving God of the Bible. Disagreements over penal substitution are fundamental; they cannot be ignored.