Letters to the Editor (July)

Safeguarding students’ faith

I was glad to see the June Reporter article on safeguarding our college students’ faith.  Often we parents underestimate the intensity of the moral temptations and spiritual assaults our children will experience on secular campuses, or any campus for that matter.

Important preventive steps were mentioned: notifying the campus ministry, caring attention from the home congregation, and mission trips to instill a missionary mindset.

I did not see much emphasis on preparing students morally and intellectually before they leave home.  A missionary must first be a convicted, tested believer. 

It would be wise to gather high-school seniors together in discussion groups led by a savvy pastor or competent youth worker.  The purpose would be to anticipate and address both the moral temptations students will experience in the hedonistic social life and the intellectual assaults they will face in the classroom by professors who might consider biblical Christianity irrational and one step removed from superstition.  Students desperately need “Christian Apologetics 101.”

I made it a practice to include articles in our [church] newsletter that expose the bankruptcy of a purely secular worldview.  Students and all of us need to know how to answer the skeptic and “give reason for the hope within us.”

Rev. Ed Kast
Saginaw, Mich.

More on consecrating elements

In last month’s Reporter letters, Rev. Edward M. Geschke states, “Unless I’m mistaken, the consecration of elements adds nothing to the Sacraments.”  He also asks where in Scripture or the Confessions it is found that “the pastor must be in close proximity — or for that matter, … present at all — to make the elements fit for usage … .”   I would like to respond to both of these points.

Consecration of the elements is addressed in the Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration, Art VII., 79-87, 121 — Tappert, pp. 554-5, 590).  The Confessions maintain that “… words of institution cannot and should not in any case be omitted in the administration of the Supper” (p. 590).  It further states, “But this blessing or recitation of Christ’s words of institution by itself, if the entire action of the Lord’s Supper as Christ ordained it is not observed (if, for instance, the blessed bread is not distributed, received, and eaten but is locked up, offered up, or carried about), does not make the Sacrament” (p. 584).

The Lord’s Supper is not dependent on the pastor, but the Word of God, which we confess must be proclaimed over the elements.  Apart from the use Christ ordained, it is not the Sacrament.

Given that the Lord’s Supper is only efficacious in the manner in which Christ ordained, the answer to Rev. Geschke’s question is found in The Augsburg Confession, Article 14.  It states, “… our church teaches that nobody should preach publicly in the church or administer the sacraments [emphasis added] unless he is rightly called” (Tappert, p. 36).

Since the words are to be proclaimed during the Divine Service (the blessing occurs through the recitation of the words of Christ), this is only to be accomplished by a called and ordained pastor, necessitating his presence.

Rev. Geschke also wonders how Rev. Harris distributes the Sacrament to his shut-ins.

I cannot speak for Rev. Harris, but I will answer for myself.  When I visit a shut-in, I celebrate the Divine Service for shut-ins as provided in Lutheran Worship: Little Agenda, which includes the consecration, distribution, reception, and eating/drinking of the Lord’s Supper. 

Rev. William G. Sabol
Jasper, Minn.

Diverse worship

I have comments about the June Reporter story regarding the committee on diverse worship. 

Diverse worship is a timely topic and I look forward to the benefit its consideration will bring to the thousands of our Synod’s leaders involved in worship each week.

However, I am troubled by two sentences in a paragraph quoting the chairman of that committee.

The first sentence is: “We want to help the church define what worship is in general, to help people discover what is Lutheran about worship.”

Helping the church define worship is great.  But when it says “discover what is Lutheran about worship,” it sounds like being Lutheran is the end-all when it comes to worship; or, by its own reverse implication, that there are parts of worship that are not Lutheran.

Perhaps the quote means that one might discover things in a Lutheran worship service that may not be found in a non-Lutheran service.  Although, I’d have a hard time coming up with a single part of a service that I could say is distinctively Lutheran and not found in another church body’s worship.

I assume that since we already know there are differences in doctrine between church bodies, the quote must be referring to some specific part or parts of a worship service.

“And to that end,” the second sentence reads, “we want to identify material that will lead us to that.”

I’m not sure what “end” this refers to. I hope it’s not what seems implied — to help people “discover what is Lutheran about worship,” to quote the first sentence.

It would be a tragedy if our end in worship were simply to understand what is Lutheran about it.

I get the feeling that sometimes we get so caught up in continuing a heritage that we can become blind to new or different means of communicating the Gospel and/or expressing our response to His Word.

At the same time, I know how diverse our worship practices have become.  I care deeply about how we move forward as we worship the Father in spirit and truth, staying true to God’s Word while using the many gifts that God has given to His Church.

It’s very possible I am misinterpreting the meaning of those two sentences completely.  Perhaps someone would be able to help clear things up.

Tim Jank
Albion, Ind.

I am concerned about some of the LCMS worship services I have attended recently. They went far afield from what I consider solid Lutheran worship.  When I left them, I had the feeling that I had attended worship done in a frivolous way — certainly not worship as I would expect in an LCMS congregation.  It felt more like I was worshiping in a Methodist, Baptist, or some other Christian church.

Maybe I am too old-fashioned, but I see some of these efforts at “new” worship as just a way to make the service lighter and more entertaining.  They do not have the “meat and potatoes” of our Lutheran heritage.

I love the

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