Worship, Music & the Arts

Late last night I returned from Minnesota, where I spent the week at the Nation Worship Conference. For several days now I have been thinking about how I could possibly describe the event. It’s so hard, because the experience of being at this event is really quite overwhelming. It was more than I could even take in while I was there. How could I capture it and put it into words? I can’t re-create the powerful sermons. Even a recording couldn’t reproduce the sounds of the instruments and voices. It’s hard to summarize the content of the many interesting and informational presentations. 

I think that eventually there will be photos and video recordings of some of the services, concerts, and presentations available and you may be able to get a glimpse of what it was like. But it won’t match the experience of being there. 

Would it help for me to say that it was like a foretaste of heaven? A multitude of Jesus’ believers gathered to hear Jesus’ Word and to join in communion with him and praise him by proclaiming the wondrous things he has done? But as good as it was, it wasn’t heaven. Yet it, just like every time we gather for worship, was a foretaste. And that is true whether it was 1200 people led by pipes and strings and brass and percussion or if it is 100 people in a city in the southwest. When we gather around Word and Sacrament we are as close as we get to Jesus this side of heaven—intimately connected to him through his means of grace.

But it is precisely because our worship is such an important event (even when it’s a smaller group with more modest accompaniment) that we give this event our attention. That’s what makes it so important to learn about worship and music—so that in our worship the gospel predominates, the people of God can participate, the history of the church is honored, and that the best gifts of God are employed. 

I am very excited about the contents of the new Supplement that was highlighted at the conference. There are many wonderful hymns in this publication and I’m looking forward to making use of them.

The two images in this post are from previous conferences. I’m actually in both of the pictures. While I enjoyed participating the services in past conferences, it was kind of nice not to have any real responsibilities at the conference so that I could just attend. It was really nice to visit with so many people, including many classmates, some members of former congregations, and most of my siblings. Some of those I knew were coming; others were an unexpected treat.


I realized yesterday that some of you may have not have heard the news.

Large_211217Pastor Janke has decided to decline nomination as district president at this summer’s district convention. Since I was originally assigned to St. Peter as a pastoral assistant to the district president, obviously, it means change for us.  Since that news was announced, Pastor Janke also received a call to serve at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Jefferson, WI.

So while I know that things will change around here, I have no idea how. It’s possible that we might both continue to serve here. One of us might take a call elsewhere. Both of us could take a call. In any case, it will mean change.

But I don’t even attempt to know which path would be better or which I would prefer. At this point in time, I have one Call, and that is to serve as pastor at St. Peter. And since that is the case, there is nothing else I would rather do. Ever since I have been here, I have understood that things would likely not stay the same for very long. Until that point, all I will do is to continue to serve as faithfully as possible in this vocation.

For several years, I have found this prayer to be helpful to me in so many situations. This is no exception. I have the german prayer framed by the door to my study. It’s from a lecture by C.F.W. Walther, given to future pastors, and recorded in the book The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel. Roughly translated… (I don’t have the translation with me. I think the quote is around page 70 of the English.)

O, my dear Lord Jesus, you are mine, therefore I wish to be yours. Everything that I do and have, my body and soul, my abilities and gifts, my entire life should be consecrated to you, to you alone. Lay upon me whatever you wish, and I will gladly bear it. Lead me always, through pain or joy, through fortune or misfortune, lead me through shame or honor, through people’s favor or their disfavor, lead me through a long life, or should I die an early death: I will rejoice in it all. Only go before me, I will follow you!


Originally uploaded by revjwc

I know that many of my friends and family in the midwest are still experiencing real winter weather, but I still thought I would share this shot I took yesterday. It’s a close-up of one of the trees at church. I got a few minutes to go outside and take a few pictures at recess and a few more in the classrooms.

Christmas Top Five

I’ve been trying to figure out how in the world I could summarize or describe the activities of the past week. I think I’ll have to take things one at a time. There are five highlights that I would like to share. I’ll take each one in a separate post.

#5 – Come, Lord Jesus
#4 – Rejoice in God, my Savior
#3 – Gifts
#2 – The Word became Flesh
#1 – O Jesus Christ, Your Manger Is