Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Drawing People In?

Here's a thought-provoking article from the Internet Monk. And here are Lutheran reactions to that article at Paul McCain's blog. But the idea of Evangelicals looking for churches that feel like churches got me thinking.

If George Barna released a study that concluded that including the Lord’s Supper in a worship service was guaranteed to drive people away from the church, what would you do? If Thom Rainer studied 1,000 unchurched people and found that every single one of them was driven away from a church because the church advocated infant baptism, how would that affect the location of your baptismal font? If you had scientific proof that preaching Christ crucified would keep people from coming back to your church (or never coming in the first place), would you change the content of your sermons?

While the article is encouraging, I think it misses the point. We don’t embrace the liturgy of the church because it draws people in any more than we use Sacraments as ways to draw people in the door. The Sacraments are there because the Lord has given them to us. If they bring people in the door, great. If they drive people away, screaming in terror, vowing never to set foot in our churches ever again, we still must receive them.

If people want to return to churches where the history of the church is not denigrated, where the rhythm of the church year is repeated annually, where the liturgy is the same week after week, where sermons are preached in pulpits, where pastors dress like pastors and not baristas, great. God’s Word and Sacraments will be here for them. But if another study 10 years from now reveals a trend back toward pop-evangelicalism, God’s Word and Sacraments, wrapped in the holy liturgy, will still be here, doing what they always do: delivering forgiveness, life, and salvation.

More Dean Pictures

Evidently Picasa caps an album at 500 pictures. Huh. Click the picture for Album # 2.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bowl Picks

Every year, my parents put together a pool of the college bowl games. Every year, I lose, even when I make my picks carefully. Maybe I never won because I never asked Jesus whom He would pick (WWJP?). So, a little prooftexting, a little fudging, and here are my picks for this year. I expect to lose this year, too.

All justifications in ESV unless otherwise noted…

Eagle Bank - Wake Forest Demon Decons over Navy (Rev. 18:17-18)
New Mexico - Fresno State Bulldogs over Colorado State Rams (Ex. 29:15-22)
St Petersberg - S Florida Bulls over Memphis Tigers (Ps. 22:12)
Las Vegas - Arizona over Brigham Young (Gal 1:8)
New Orleans - S Miss Golden Eagles over Troy Trojans (Mt 24:28 (KJV))
Poinsettia - TCU Horned Frogs over Boise St Broncos (Ex 8:2-8; 15:1)
Hawaii - Hawaii Golden Rainbows over Notre Dame(Rev 10:1 )
(alternate selection, based on the modern meaning of a rainbow: Notre Dame, Lev. 18:22)
Motor City - Fla Atlantic Owls over Central Michigan Chippewas (Is. 34:11, 15; Lev. 11:13-18)
Meinecke - W Virginia Mountaineers over NC Tarheels (Jdg 9:36)
Champs - Fla State Seminoles over Wisconsin Badgers (Prv 30:26)
Emerald - Miami Hurricanes over California Golden Bears (Ps 83:15)
Independence - Louisiana Tech Bulldogs over N Ill Huskies (Is 56:11)
Papa Johns - NC State Wolfpack over Rutgers Scarlet Knights (Rev. 17:3-4)
Alamo - Missouri Tigers over Northwestern Wildcats (1 Cor 10:24)
Humanitarian - Nevada Wolf Pack over Maryland Terrapins (Ac 20:29)
Holiday - OK State Cowboys over Oregon Ducks (Hab 1:8)
Texas - W Michigan Broncos over Rice Owls (Jer 8:16)
Armed Forces - Houston Cougars over Air Force Falcons (Job 28:7)
Sun - Pittsburgh Panthers over Oregon State Beavers (Hos 11:10)
Music City - Vanderbilt Commodores over Boston College Eagles (Lam 4:19)
Insight - Kansas Jayhawks over Minnesota Golden Gophers (Is 34:11)
Chick fil A - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets over LSU Tigers (Is 7:18)
Outback - S Carolina Gamecocks over Iowa Hawkeyes (Mk 9:47)
Capital One - Michigan St Spartans over Georgia Bulldogs (Mt 15:26 or Is. 56:10)
Gator - Nebraska Cornhuskers over Clemson Tigers (Is 17:5 (KJV))
Rose - USC Trojans over Penn State Nittany Lions (Dan 6:22)
Orange - Cincinnati Bearcats over Va Tech Hokies (2 Ki 2:23-24)
Cotton - Texas Tech Raiders over Mississippi Rebels (Is 1:28)
Liberty - Kentucky Wildcats over E Carolina Pirates (Ex. 20:15)
Sugar - Utah Utes over Alabama Crimson Tide (Ps 106:9)
International - Connecticut Huskies over Buffalo Bulls (Jer 50:27)
Fiesta - Texas Longhorns over Ohio State Buckeyes (Dt 33:17)
GMAC - Tulsa Golden Hurricanes over Ball State Cardinals (Rv 8:3-5)
BCS - Oklahoma Sooners over Florida Gators (Heb 13:18-19)

Here are better suggestions for Biblically victorious mascots:
Dumb Asses: 2 Pe 2:16 (KJV)
Lambs: Rev 17:14

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Keeping Christ in Christmas?

That's just about the most arrogant thing you can presume to do: keep Christ anywhere. Christ will be in Christmas or absent from it no matter how hard you try to you keep Him there. Christ doesn't bend to your will. He is where He has promised to be, and there's nothing you or anyone else can do to change that. So where is Christ? In the Mass, in the Divine Service, in the Lord's Supper.

Thanks to Mark for this article:

To de-secularize the season of Christmas, the writer proposes these actions:

· Put the Mass back in Christmas
· Restore Michaelmas
· Restore Candlemas
· Restore Childermas
· Restore the Feast of the Epiphany
· Restore the Advent season
· Restore gift-giving to the real Christmas season, which occurs after Christmas day
· Don't put up a Christmas tree until Christmas Eve — if at all
· Use Christmas as a day of contemplating Christ, not for engaging in commerce

Mass in Christmas? Check. Hope will have 3 distinct Divine Services celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord.
Michaelmas? Check. We celebrated it this year, albeit transferred to the Sunday before.
Candlemas? Check. It's coming: Feb 2. Join us for the Feast of the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord.
Childermas? Check. The Feast of the Holy Innocents will be celebrated Dec 28.
Epiphany? Check. Jan 6, every year.
Advent? Check.

Keeping Christ in Christmas is silly at best, sinful at worst. Instead, keep yourself in Christ. Receive His Body and Blood as often as He gives you the opportunity.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

St. Gregory of Nyssa on the Incarnation

From his Great Catechism:

"It is the peculiar property of the essence of fire to tend upwards; no one therefore, deems it wonderful in the case of flame to see that natural operation. But should the flame be seen to stream downwards, like heavy bodies, such a fact would be regarded as a miracle; namely, how fire still remains fire, and yet, by this change of direction in its motion, passes out of its nature by being borne downward. In like manner, it is not the vastness of the heavens, and the bright shining of its constellations, and the order of the universe and the unbroken administration over all existence that so manifestly displays the transcendent power of the Deity, as this condescension to the weakness of our nature; the way, in fact, in which sublimity, existing in lowliness, is actually seen in lowliness, and yet descends not from its height, and in which Deity, entwined as it is with the nature of man, becomes this, and yet still is that."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Luther on faith & works

Faith is not the human notion and dream that some people call faith. When they see that no improvement of life and no good works follow—although they can hear and say much about faith—they fall into the error of saying, “Faith is not enough; one must do works in order to be righteous and be saved.” This is due to the fact that when they hear the gospel, they get busy and by their own powers create the idea in their heart which says, “I believe;” they take this then to be a true faith. But as it is a human figment and idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, nothing comes of it either, and no improvement follows.

Faith, however, is a divine work in us which changes us and makes us to be born anew of God John 1 [:12-13]. It kills the old Adam and makes us altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers; and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active mighty thing, this faith. It is impossible for it not to be doing good works incessantly. It does not ask whether good works are to be done, but before the question is asked, it has already done them, and is constantly doing them. Whoever does not do such good works, however, is an unbeliever. He gropes and looks for faith and good works, but knows neither what faith is nor what good works are. Yet he talks, with many words, about faith and good works.

Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that the believer would stake his life on it a thousand times. This knowledge of and confidence in God’s grace makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and with all creatures. And this is the work which the Holy Spirit performs in faith. Because of it, without compulsion, a person is ready and glad to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, out of love and praise to God who has shown him this grace. Thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire. Beware, therefore, of your own false notions and of idle talkers who imagine themselves wise enough to make decisions about faith and good works, and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God that he may work faith in you. Otherwise you will surely remain forever without faith, regardless of what you may think or do. (LW 35, 370-71)