NOTE FROM THE PASTOR

Published on October 3, 2016 by

        

God shows His love to Christendom With blessings ever mounting,

Among which He hath made for them Bright hosts beyond all counting;

So let us all with gladness sing, This day to God our thanks we bring

For our angelic guardians.

 

They dress for war when dangers near, And to the battle hasten,

To rescue all who God revere, And all the foe to chasten;

So let us all with gladness sing, This day to God our thanks we bring

For our angelic guardians.

“God Shows His Love to Christendom,” WH 155 stzs. 1 & 2

 

Greetings and a blessed Michaeltide to you!

 

The Reformation, 499 Years

 

This month marks the 499th anniversary of the posting of the 95 Theses on the Castle church (Schloßkirche) door in Wittenberg. Martin Luther’s theses have more in common with the Roman Catholic theology prevalent at the time than they do with Lutheran theology as we know it. These theses were meant to be talking points for an academic discussion on the abuse of indulgences and the true nature of repentance as taught by the Scriptures. Nonetheless, history has chosen this day to commemorate the Reformation. Next year, 2017, the church and the world celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. In preparation for this momentous occasion our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has put together a website: http://lutheranreformation.org. Here you will find abundant resources to explore the history of the Reformation and Martin Luther. Of note also is the Issues, Etc. series with the Rev. Dr. Ken Schurb on the life and works of Martin Luther. This is well worth the listen and has been ongoing for nearly a year, http://issuesetc.org/martin-luther-and-the-reformation/.

Available in the narthex are copies of the 95 theses. Please pick up a copy if your are interested in Luther’s arguments in 1517. Gentlemen please don’t forget to join us every month for Gemütlichkeit where we have been discussing Luther’s life and works. This month, October, we will meet at the Hicks’ to discuss Luther on Law and Gospel.

One final note, Lutherans are often accused of Luther worship. It is hard to avoid this accusation, since history and our adversaries gave us the title “Lutheran.” The first Lutherans actually called themselves Evangelicals, people of the Gospel or in German, Evangelium. However we must firmly proclaim that we worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our faith, the Lutheran faith is chiefly about Christ and him crucified. The Blessed Doctor Martin Luther was a chief teacher of the faith and an admirable theologian and doctor of the church. He too was a sinner, redeemed by Christ, and we give thanks to God alone for his contributions to the Church.

 

Status Controversiae: “Pastor, I’ve Got a Bone to Pick with You”

“Acolytes (or the roles of men and women)”

 

Introduction (Reprinted from August)

It is inevitable that something I do or say will get the hackles up of someone in the congregation at some point in the time that I am here as your pastor. It has already happened, and surely will continue. It happens with every pastor. I am not unique. The arguments are different of course, but there will be differences between members of the congregation and her pastor. In light of this I’ve decided to dedicate a portion of the newsletter to status controversiae, or states of controversy. Here I hope to unpack some questions that have been brought to me in order to discuss publicly where others come from, where I might stand, what ought to be taught, and where we are in working through the various disagreements that will arise as long as more than one person is involved in Christ’s church.

 

NOTE: The point of this section of the newsletter is to discuss topics that may be on the minds of many in thecongregation. The goal is to have a public forum in order to teach on these topics and to keep the Ten Commandments in doing so. This is not a venting place for me or for the congregation, but it is meant to be a healthy place to discuss what needs to be discussed and to teach what needs to be taught. Please talk to me about what you read here. My goal is to cover one at a time, because in order to give each topic the proper coverage a brief statement will not suffice. This month’s topic is: “acolytes (or the roles of men and women).” The following months will be: “Divine Service: Ceremony or Show?,” “Lutherans and Vestments: Meaningful Tradition or Catholic Costumery?”. Please see me if you have a suggestion for a topic of concern and I will attempt to work it in.

 

“Acolytes (or the roles of men and women)”

Our culture is currently a battleground for the discussion of the sexes (commonly called genders). The Church always has the backing of the Scriptures to stand firm upon God’s creation of mankind, both male and female. However we Christians have not always stood firm upon God’s Word and his design for mankind.  You may wonder why the title discusses both the roles of men and women and acolytes (those who light candles for the services of the Church). My hope and goal is that by the conclusion of this article the connection between the two will be solidified and that many will understand why this is a topic worth caring about.

The Scriptures establish firmly what we call the “orders of creation.” Man is given headship in the family as the husband (Ephesians 5; Genesis 2; Matthew 19). Woman is given the role of helpmeet (Ephesians 5; Genesis 2; Matthew 19). These roles reflect the eternal roles of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5). This should inform how we think about all roles of men and women in both the home and the church and also in society.

The past century in America has done great damage to our understanding of the orders of creation and how men and women are to relate. The damage is so great that almost all of us are affected by the wiles of feminism and egalitarianism to a certain extent. But we need to instead examine the roles of men and women in light of God’s Word, the Scriptures and not simply use our culture to decide what is relevant about the Scriptures for today. The latest issue of the Lutheran Witness dealt with the roles of women at length and did very well in doing so.

Here we enter into the discussion of the roles of men and women in the Church. The Scriptures firmly teach that the Office of the Holy Ministry was given to the male apostles. As man is the head of the household, so do men hold the office of pastor for the distribution of Word and Sacrament. Our church teaches from this that men hold the church roles of president and elder because these deal with pastoral responsibilities and the headship given to the husband in the family. Laymen and women alike have the responsibility and duty to teach their families the Word of god and to raise their families in the faith. Boys and girls should be trained in order that they would know what roles husbands and wives and men and women have both in the Church and at home.

Acolytes have often been viewed from a stark pragmatic or practical position. The candles need to be lit and confirmands have lit the candles. In fact in this congregation, as in many others, girl acolytes were introduced because there was only one boy acolyte at the time. This was indeed a practical solution.

After much teaching and discussion the pastors and elders have decided to train the boys to be acolytes in order to show them how men serve the Church as pastors and elders. For a good part of the history of the Church, the role of altar server or acolyte was considered a minor order amongst the clergy, thus it was for boys only. One sees this distinction in the traditional robes of acolytes which were designed for males, not for “unisex” use. Likewise we have decided to train the girls of the congregation to serve the Altar Guild. By training our boys to be men and our girls to be ladies, here at the Church we are doing our part to instill in our children the values of the Scriptures while the world wishes them to have different values.

I understand this move to be a change in practice. Many of you have learned to expect all children to serve as acolytes. We ask for your patience as we train our children in the Word and in practices that seek to honor the orders of creation. The devil will attempt to use any and all changes in practice and teaching to challenge our faith and resolve. Please speak with us, the pastors and the elders, about any concerns you may have so that we may speak cordially as Christians and use the Word of God wisely and prudently to serve the Gospel.

 

Blessed Michaeltide!

 

In Christ,

 

 

Pastor Paul

 

 

 

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