Te Deum Laudamus

Every Wednesday, we pray Matins at church. We usually read an Old Testament selection from a daily lectionary. Then I usually comment on the Epistle from Sunday. Today, we commemorated the Lutheran hymnwriters Nicolai, Heermann, and Gerhardt and sang the Queen of Chorales. The other thing we regularly do is pray by name for the members of the congregation. 

But every week I look forward most to singing the Te Deum Laudamus. Today, this sight gave me all the more reason to sing, and I think the angels, apostles, prophets, martyrs, and Church throughout the world rejoice at this, too.

Matins

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Every Wednesday morning, we gather at church for Matins (Morning Praise). It’s usually a small group, and now in the summer it’s just been my kids. But we sing, listen, and pray. We use a recording for the music. We follow the order for Morning Praise from the hymnal. We use the readings and prayers from Treasury of Daily Prayer.

This morning’s Old Testament reading was from Proverbs 22, and included the famous verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” It’s quoted often and regularly printed on wall hangings and Christian artwork. But what does it actually look like? I suppose people have all kinds of ideas about what it means to bring up a child in the way of the Lord. But I, at least, hope that it looks like this: we sing, we listen, we pray. Morning hymn, Venite, Psalm, Lesson, Te Deum, Prayer. Certainly this is not all there is to raising children. But it’s a good way to start the day.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php

Nothing but Forgiveness

Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered toward this goal: we shall daily receive in the Church nothing but forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. So even though we have sins, the grace of the Holy Spirit does not allow them to harm us. For we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but continuous, uninterrupted forgiveness of sin. This is because God forgives us and because we forgive, bear with, and help one another.

–Luther’s Large Catechism, Part II Article III

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Virtual Organist

If your church…
…struggles to find an organist to play for services
…uses MIDI or Hymnsoft for services, but would appreciate something better
…needs to find a way to give organists a Sunday off
…wishes for a well-trained church organist to help lead the congregation’s song,

I highly recommend you check out The Virtual Organist service from Church Music Solutions. This Sunday we used this service to accompany our service for the first time, and I am very pleased with how it went. I won’t describe the whole thing here; just go to their web site and take a look. Contact them and ask them to send you a demo unit so that you can see and hear for yourself 1) how easy it is and 2) how good it sounds.

I will still say that in most situations I would prefer to have a real, live (even mediocre) organist on the bench each Sunday. And I still feel strongly that we need to work hard to recruit and encourage kids to become good church organists. But I am fairly confident to agree that in many situations, this is the next best thing.http://www.blog.pasarsore.com/wp-admin/css/colors/theme-index.php

Worship Conference

There are no words which can adequately describe the experience of attending the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts. The best I could do would be to encourage you to view online the two services which were held on the Martin Luther College campus in the Chapel of the Christ. Of course, it’s not quite like being there, but maybe it gives you some idea.

The theme of this year’s conference was handing down the Lutheran heritage to the next generation. WELS President Mark Schroeder, who was just re-elected to another term today, wrote in his introductory letter to the conference:

Lutherans have been blessed with a rich heritage—an astounding array of spiritual treasures, passed down to us over the centuries through faithful Christians who have gone before us. It’s a biblical heritage that grounds us firmly on the Words of Scripture. It’s a confessional and theological heritage that connects us to faithful confessors and to the church of all ages. And it’s a liturgical heritage that respects our roots and values commitment to worship that focuses on the proclamation of the gospel in all its beauty.

We Lutherans today are the beneficiaries and recipients of such a rich heritage. But blessings such as those we’ve received bring with them a solemn responsibility. Our heritage is one to be treasured for ourselves to be sure, but it is also one that we will want to pass along to the next generation of Lutheran Christians. By treasuring this heritage for ourselves, we keep the gospel of Jesus Christ as the focus of our worship and of our efforts to bring the good news of Christ to a fallen world. By passing this heritage to the next generation, we take our place in a long line of faithful witnesses, as “one generation commends [God’s] works to another” (Psalm 145:4).

Throughout the week, this theme was expressed in several ways, most notably in the keynote address, in the 48 voice children’s choir assembled for the conference, and in a number of the presentations.

It was under this theme that I presented the topic of “Hymns in the Life of Church, School, and Home.” I maintain that the church’s song—especially her hymns—provides us with a vehicle for passing the faith on to the next generation. This happens when these songs not only provide musical accompaniment for the proclamation of the gospel in corporate worship, but especially when these hymns accompany the lives of the church’s members. It starts with children at a very young age; when hymns are learned young and learned well, they provide for a lifetime of comfort and strength.

I have created a web page with all kinds of information related to this topic. There you can find links to all the books, presentations, CDs, etc that I referred to in my presentation. On the page you can also view the slides I used. Keep in mind that the slides are not the presentation itself; they were mainly used to illustrate the stories I used to make various points. If you click through the slides you will see various images, videos, and audio clips. Over the next several days I hope to post a few of the stories to which those slides refer.

Hymns and Children

Yesterday I heard an interesting segment of Issues, etc, on teaching hymns to children. You can listen to the segment here.

This covers some of the same ground that I will be presenting in a few weeks at the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts in St. Peter, MN.  Here is a description of my presentation:

A Lutheran hymnal is a rich devotional resource that deserves to be used in every church, school, and especially, in every home. Already at a very young age, children are capable of learning hymns and participating in worship. These hymns provide solid teaching and strong comfort for Christians, young and old alike. This presentation provides practical and inspiring ideas and anecdotes for teachers, parents, pastors, and all who influence children and worship.

After the conference, I will post my presentation and materials here. But I’m looking forward to seeing some of you in Minnesota in just a few weeks.

What I’ve been up to

I’ve been pretty silent here lately, so I thought I’d give you a quick rundown on what has been keeping me busy.

Lent and Easter
Yes, this is perhaps the busiest time of the year. People will make comments to me about how busy I must be, with all the extra services. And this year we even added a service on Good Friday—five unique services from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. But I’m never exactly sure how to respond. Yes, I’m busy. And it is a struggle to get ready for all the services, especially when they come so quickly, and especially when other issues inevitably come up during holy week. But I really don’t want anyone to think that I would rather be doing anything else.

For all of the busy-ness and the craziness, there is simply no time of year I love more than holy week, and especially the feast of the resurrection. It can be such a temptation to get through Good Friday, and sort of coast through Easter. But, no. The festival service on Easter is the most important of all, the highest festival in the entire year. This year I preached on the historic epistle for Easter Sunday, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. What a joy to keep the festival, and for it all to culminate in the feast that is the Lord’s Supper, a foretaste of the feast already enjoyed by the saints in heaven.

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong his love—to save us.
See, his blood now marks our door;
Faith points to it; death passes o’er,
And Satan cannot harm us. Hallelujah!

So let us keep the Festival
to which the Lord invites us;
Christ is himself the Lord of all,
The sun that warms and lights us.
Now his grace to us imparts
Eternal sunshine to our hearts.
The night of sin is ended. Hallelujah! (CW 161, st. 3,4)

School Planning & Accreditation
We are busy planning and preparing for the next school, and even beyond. In January we began the process of a school self-study for accreditation. But we’re also gearing up for next year by getting all of our enrollment materials in place. This week we’re distributing fliers throughout the area. We’ve already delivered 2,000 to surrounding homes, and we’ll be getting more out as soon as they’re printed. El Paso is a growing city, with lots of young military families. Accreditation is an important part of serving these families, partly because Ft. Bliss requires school to be accredited in order to be recommended on post, and also because military families move so often that we want to make sure our students records easily transfer to the schools nationwide, even worldwide, where our students end up.

Home
I’m trying my hand at desert gardening this summer. The kids and I have planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and melons. We’ll see how things grow here. We definitely have plenty of sun. It should be a fun little experiment. and if we get some food out of it, great.

Last month Sara’s sister Liz arrived in El Paso. She is an Army nurse and will be stationed at William Beaumont Army Medical Center for the next two years. She will be staying with us until she finds a place of her own. We’re not really in any hurry for that to happen, however; it’s nice to have her here. And it will be a real blessing to have family within a few miles instead of a few hundred miles (or thousand).

It’s baseball season again, and I’ve again been enjoying the MLB AtBat app on my phone. As much as I wish I could be in Minnesota to actually see outdoor Major League Baseball in Minnesota this summer, being able to listen to the games on my phone is better than nothing.

Reading
I’m still trying to make my way through my “to read” stack of books. However, I just can’t resist adding more books to the pile. If you want to, you can watch what I’m reading on the web site GoodReads.

I’m looking forward to reading through the Lutheran Confessions in the Book of Concord again this summer. I try to do that every other year. I’ll write more on that in the next couple weeks.

Coming Up
Right now I’m especially gearing up for our Ascension service. I’ve always had a service on Ascension wherever I’ve been, even though they’re not always well attended. This year we’ve invited our area congregations to join us and with our combined efforts hope to have a service fitting for this high festival. It seems that every year I appreciate the significance of Jesus’ ascension even more.

Next week I’ll be heading to Flagstaff Arizona for pastor’s conference. In a few week, we’ll have confirmation here. And just after that school will be out for another year. Wow, it’s gone by fast.

Now Rise

Over the past several years I have really appreciated the hymn “To Jordan’s River Came our Lord” (CW 89) as the Hymn of the Day for the Baptism of our Lord. In particular, there’s just something about climbing into the pulpit while singing these words:

Now rise, faint hearts: be resolute!
This man is Christ, our substitute!
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream,
Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.

Saturday Evening Prayer

I have found the collection of prayers in the CW Pastor’s Companion, as well as the LSB Pastoral Care Companion, to be quite useful. Here is a pastor’s prayer as he prepares for Sunday morning. The version is from the CW:PC.

O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I humbly pray: pardon all my sins. Look not on my great unworthiness but on your great mercy, by which you have appointed me to be your ambassador in Christ’s place. Put your Word in my mouth and speak with my tongue. Bring forth fruit through me, your unworthy servant, and let not the preaching of your Word be without effect among us. May all that I utter be in accord with your will and the confession of your Church, that your name may be glorified, your congregation strengthened, and your Church built up.

Let the praises of the Church be acceptable to you. Keep us from vain babbling and lying lip service. Preserve your Holy Word among us that it may be joyfully and boldly proclaimed in its truth and purity. Guard us in the right use of the Sacrament in accord with the institution of Jesus Christ our Savior. Be our God and our children’s God, now and forever. Hear my prayer, O Father, for the sake of your dear Son.

Christian Worship: Pastor’s Companion. Northwestern Publishing House, 2004, p. 11.

See also: LSB Pastoral Care Companion. Concordia Publishing House, 2007, p. xix.

Note: Both of these volumes are very valuable to me. I hope to write a comparison of the two books sometime in the near future.