Friday, January 29, 2010

Recommended Lutheran blog

http://pastoralmeanderings.blogspot.com/
There are many great Lutheran blogs on the internet and it should be easy for me to make a list of these. I am not so good at these things and so I do not have such a list on this blog.

I have been following the blog of Pastor Peters on my Google account and the entry which he made on the 28th was, in my estimation, particularly worthy of note.

My late father, B.W. Teigen, wrote a book on the subject of the relationship between Luther and Chemnitz. I think that the insights of Pastor Peters coincide with my father's work. This book, The Lord's Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz, is available for free download. Follow the prompts at http://www.logia.org/

In this post Pastor Peters is paying tribute to a wise pastor who influenced his ministry.

An example of his wisdom in practice.... When I arrived I asked to use a glass chalice since I was accustomed to the common cup. I did not challenge their practice directly nor did I ask anyone to change. I merely offered to those who likewise might desire the use of the chalice that both would be offered at the same time at the rail. I thought it would take a million years for such subtlety to make a difference I was wrong. Within the month, a woman of the parish came into my office after the service. She seemed upset. She opened her purse and placed upon my desk a check for $1,000 and told me please to purchase vessels befitting the Body and Blood of Christ. With this gift, a proper chalice, ciborium, paten, and cruet were purchased. Both chalice and individual cups are still offered together at the rail even to this day (though I have been gone for 17 years). But the practice of the Pastor did change the congregation and by the time I left (after just under 13 years in that parish), two thirds of the congregation had switched and most of those I had catechized and taught as youth or adults used the chalice exclusively. There was no conflict over this even though some families were divided with some choosing individual cups and some the chalice but both communing at the same time...

Another example of his wisdom... When I arrived and the Eucharist was offered twice monthly, we were able to move it immediately to every other week and on feast days. More than this I began a mid-week celebration that was also the Divine Service so that this was an addition to the regular schedule and not strictly a change in that schedule. During the summer, when we actually had an influx of summer residents, we added a spoken early Divine Service. For years this regular Eucharist stood in addition to the regular schedule and after a time it was incorporated into that schedule, an organist found, and it became a sung liturgy as well. An addition became the means to bring change. There was no conflict since most of the work was mine.

Another example of his wisdom... As we addressed the nature of the Sacrament of the Altar, it became clear that for some time a "receptionism" had been taught which said that the bread and wine were not the Body and Blood of Christ until touching the tongue. In effect, the teaching was not merely a receptionism but a spiritual presence which never was connected with or located in the bread or cup. Naturally this was an area of teaching that I addressed immediately. But before the congregation as a whole became the focus of this teaching, I began with the Altar Guild and how we treated what remains of the sacrament (the reliquae). Again, the change began with me. What remained of the individual cups was poured into the chalice and I consumed the remains at the rail during the post-communion canticle. At times the assisting minister assisted me. The congregation learned from this practice that the reliquae were not things indifferent and that our practice toward them is not a thing indifferent. Perhaps the most profound teaching moments came when a portion of the individual cups were spilled on the floor by the rail. Immediately I took one of the extra purificators and knelt down in full vestments right there during the distribution to cleanse the spill respectfully. The couple of times in my ministry when this has happened, I have had people speak to me about how this simple action taught them that the Sacrament was what Christ's Word said and that when this Word was attached to the bread, the result was what the Word said -- the Body of Christ was present in and with that bread. The old heresy had been addressed without argument and the people taught without words. Now, to be sure, we cannot in every case teach or reform without direct confrontation, but we can in other ways demonstrate what we believe, teach, and confess by the practice of what we believe...

So, to those of you who might find yourselves in the position I was, I would recommend Pastor's Evanson's sage advice and counsel. Confront directly what you must but remember how you can teach by your own practice and piety... Sometimes these address in profound ways the teaching without words (or, more correctly, in addition to words) that prevents unnecessary conflict due simply to the inertia of those for whom any change is suspect...

Something to think about. . .

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