Tech Worship

Bulletin Covers

At the beginning of Advent this past year our congregation stopped using the NPH bulletin covers. The covers feature full color pictures and usually have a phrase from one of the lessons for that Sunday of the church year. However, it seemed that more often than not, the featured phrase was not the part of that lesson that made a connection to the other lessons and formed the theme for the day. In some cases, the emphasis on the cover seemed to draw the emphasis away from the theme of the day. On top of that, Christian Worship Supplement has a supplementary lectionary and if we happen to substitute the lesson with the featured phrase, the cover really makes little sense.

The cost of the bulletin covers is not outrageous, but there was a savings for us in dropping the subscription. We were also starting to print out our services in the bulletins, so the cost savings from the covers has helped cover the cost of the extra printing.

So, for several months now I have had to find some kind of graphic to use on the cover to our bulletin. I have almost always been able to find something appropriate from the collection Clip Art…for the Liturgical Year. That’s my go-to clip art collection. If someone has a good suggestion for another collection with high-quality B/W art suitable for this kind of thing, leave me a comment.

But every once in a while I just can’t find something that really fits. That happened last Sunday. I just couldn’t find something that was just right. So I tried something that I had seen before, but had never found an opportunity to use it. is a web application that creates a graphic visualization of a body of text, with the most frequent words in larger type. I tried it with my sermon text, the second lesson for the day—Ephesians 2:4–10. This is what I got:

I thought it turned out very well and was exactly what I needed for my bulletin cover. I’m sure that not every text works out like that, with the most frequent words as the most important words. But this is a tool I’ll probably want to check every once in a while, especially when I can’t find a bulletin cover.

Baptism Worship

Prayer at the Close of Day on Baptism

One of the services at this summer's worship conference was a Service of Prayer at the Close of Day (Compline) that centered on Baptism. If I remember correctly, we sang two of my favorite hymns from the Supplement, "I Am Baptized into Christ" and "Lord Support Us All Day." The setting of compline that we used was fantastic, and well done. The whole thing was tightly wound around the thoughts of baptism as we come to the close of another day. But I'd have to say that the highlight of that particular service was the commentary/sermon. I won't say anything more about it—you can watch it for yourself. I'll give you the link so that you can watch it on Streams.

Prayer at the Close of Day Sermon on Streams

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Children Worship

Children in Worship

With four children (and soon-to-be five) under the age of six, I am naturally interested in the topic of children and worship. But it's not just for my own children. As a pastor I am interested in all the little lambs who need to hear the voice of their shepherd.

I believe that Lutherans approach this topic from a rather unique perspective. (Unique because so many others do do not approach it in the same way.) The biblical teachings of original sin, the way the Holy Spirit works faith through the means of grace, and the understanding of the primary purpose of public worship as God's service to us—all these affect the way we think about the place of children in worship.

I want to share with you an audio segment from the Lutheran radio show "Issues, etc." It is a discussion about this topic that I found useful. You'll can listen to it here on the website or click the link below if that doesn't work. I also included a link to another book that talks about children and worship.

The picture here is part of an altarpiece in Wittenberg. I shared this with our school kids in chapel this morning. The point is pretty easy to get. Martin Luther preaches in such a way that Christ is the center of his preaching and the people's worship. But take a look at the congregation. Notice the kids right in the front. Even an infant sitting on a lap. Receiving God's gifts right along with the others. Someday I hope to have a good-sized print of this painting hanging in my study.


Church Year Worship

St. Matthew, Apostle

Evangelist Matthew
Yesterday at Trinity we observed the minor festival named for the tax collector-turned apostle Matthew. Since it fell on a Sunday this year and since it is year A in the three year lectionary series (and I've been preaching on the gospels), it seemed good to take this opportunity. It was a little refreshing to switch to red paraments during this long green season. But it was especially interesting to think a little about Matthew's perspective in writing a Gospel account. We don't hear really anything else about Matthew except that he was a tax collector (something Matthew always makes sure to point out). In recent weeks we've seen God's generosity in the parable of the workers in the vineyard, God's complete forgiveness in the parable of the unforgiving servant, God's concern for any one sinner who goes astray in Mt 18. I think studying the call of Matthew helps explain why Matthew would write these things. Jesus had shown this same concern, forgiveness, and extreme generosity to Matthew. 

As a side note, I don't think I've ever been able to use the proper preface for "minor festivals" before. As we give thanks to God for the example of faith of believers from the past, it gives new meaning to the words "therefore with all the saints on earth and hosts of heaven…"
Family Hymnody Teaching Worship

Week in Review

This has been a busy week. There are a number things I thought I'd share.

Sara and the kids traveled to Leesville, Louisiana, for the affirmation of baptism for Joel & Natalie's baby girl, Emma. They were planning to drive on Tuesday, when Gustav hit that area. They waited a day to come home, but didn't get much damage there. The nearest WELS church experienced flooding, though.

Shut-in Call and Hymns
I visited a shut-in this week who is not really responsive. I had not met her before, but she's unable to carry on a real conversation. But there was no hesitation on her part when I asked if I could read a psalm to her. And the moment I started singing a hymn to her, she clearly sang along with much of the first stanza. I have been teaching hymnology in our school here, and these kind of events just solidify my conviction that we need to keep teaching these hymns. This week I taught "Salvation Unto Us Has Come" (CW 390)—next week's Hymn of the Day.

The first week of the month we have our board meetings (before the council meeting next week). So this week I met with the Boards of Discipleship, Elders, and Education. I have been very encouraged my the commitment and support these people give. Not everything that we have to talk about is always fun, but it has been encouraging to work with these partners in the gospel.

Church Mice
I heard earlier in the week that people had seen mice droppings in the church kitchen. So I picked up a couple mouse traps and set them out yesterday. I actually caught two of them today. While I was preparing for Sunday in the sanctuary today, I saw a mouse run across the floor under the pews. I tried chasing him for a while—it was pretty funny. But as I was doing that, I starting thinking about various "church mouse" books or cartoons, and I imagined that perhaps there was a group of church mice who come out when the church is empty to learn about the church year or something. I didn't catch him, but I set another trap in the working sacristy.


Credo and the Ordinary
Tomorrow I'll be covering the Creed in our Bible class on the songs of the liturgy. Tomorrow's is interesting because it is the one part of the ordinary that is most often not sung. I've always found that interesting, and I wonder why it is. I wonder why people don't write settings of the Creed like the wide variety of settings of the Kyrie or the Gloria, for example.

Sunday School
Tomorrow we're going to start a new quarter of Sunday School and begin using the Growing in Christ curriculum. I've got 4 teachers lined up and 16 kids registered in K-8, though I'm expecting a few more. I'm looking forward to working with the teachers, and just in general giving Sunday School the attention that it deserves.

Now I'm ready for this week to come to a close and begin a new week with the Lord in his Word and Sacrament.

Jesus, Refuge of the Weary

Here is a recording of our choir singing this morning. (If you are reading this in a reader or an email, click to go to the web site to listen to the audio.)

Jesus, Refuge of the weary,
Blest Redeemer whom we love, 
Fountain in life’s desert dreary,
Savior from the world above, 
Oh, how oft Thine eyes, offended,
Gaze upon the sinner’s fall! 
Yet upon the cross extended.
Thou didst bear the pain of all. 

Jesus, may our hearts be burning
With more fervent love for Thee! 
May our eyes be ever turning
To Thy cross of agony 
Till in glory parted never
From the blessed Savior’s side, 
Graven in our hearts forever,
Dwell the Cross, the Crucified.


Advent Candles

This Sunday our preschoolers and kindergarteners are singing in church. This morning after chapel they were practicing, and I managed to snap a few shots of the kids.

Andrew came with me to church so that he could go to chapel and sing with the kids. (He only goes to preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays and doesn’t normally get to go to chapel.)

Notice the Advent wreath in the background with the first candle lit.