Dorothy Staub writes concerning “grotesque, repulsive covers for The Lutheran Witness” (“Positive covers, please!” May 2008, Letters), specifically in apparent reference to the March 2008 issue featuring the painting The Three Marys at the Tomb, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905).
In response to Mrs. Staub’s concern, I would like to offer a couple of points.
First, please consider the painting and the setting. Actually, there’s an amazing artistic and theological beauty to it. These women were grieving, yet about to find out the good news that their Lord, Savior, and Friend Jesus was risen from the dead! The presence of the angel in the painting, bathed in light, should provide helpful perspective here. The darkness of their world was about to be similarly bathed in Gospel light. This hardly qualifies as “repulsive.”
Second, I question whether the hymn “In the Garden” (referenced by Mrs. Staub) is appropriate as an example of hymnody to be promoted by our fellowship. There certainly are far greater examples of hymnody which are far more congruent with our theology, worship heritage, emphasis on Christ crucified and risen and His atonement for us (specifically), etc. One of the biggest challenges pastors and solid lay members face is the requests for hymns to be sung in worship such as the above, “The Old Rugged Cross,” “How Great Thou Art,” and others which do not nearly reflect our doctrine and practice as do “Salvation unto Us has Come,” “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” the hymns by Luther, and many others.
I greatly appreciate Mrs. Staub’s letter, and especially her concern for our youth and that they stay in the church, as well as the occasion it gives us to consider why we emphasize the things we do in our church fellowship, what they mean for us, etc.
Rev. Paul E. Gramit, Pastor
Ev. Trinity Lutheran Church
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