What an Altar Guild Should Know: Not Just for the Altar Guild

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In What an Altar Guild Should Know, Paul H.D. Lang gives detailed information about church services and rubrics, liturgical terms, everything related to the altar, sacred vessels and linens, paraments, and other topics related to liturgical worship.

However, this is not just a How To manual for altar guild members and their pastors. Lang offers keen theological insight into why reverence and beauty and the externals of worship matter. Anyone interested in liturgical worship would benefit from reading this book (and also Lang’s Ceremony and Celebration).

Beautifying worship: “The service which the altar guild can render is valuable as an aid to extol the beauty and greatness of God and to awaken the response of His people in all forms of beauty, care, and reverence. Beauty in the church is not a matter of indifference…. Why do we want to make the house of God and our worship of God as reverent and beautiful as possible? Such a desire is of God and for God. He is present in our churches. Through His Word and sacraments, Christ comes to us as we are gathered together in His name.” (p. 11)

Preparing a setting for the Gospel: “By making God’s house and the services of the church more beautiful, we provide the Gospel a setting in which it is more attractive to people and puts them in a more receptive frame of mind for worship….Of course, God’s Word and sacraments are not dependent on human embellishment for effectiveness. They are in themselves ‘the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth’ (Rom. 1:16). It is only fitting, however, that we should present them in surroundings that are as attractive as we can make them.” (p. 11-12)

Externals not essential, but important: “God has not given Christians of the New Testament era specific laws governing the outward forms of worship. Christianity is not essentially a matter of externals but of faith and life….Where the Word of God is rightly taught and the sacraments are rightly administered, there is the Christian church….Nonetheless, externals are invariably associated with Christian worship. Therefore they are important. Christian doctrine, faith, and life are never merely theoretical, barren, or lifeless. They express themselves in outward acts.” (p. 12-13)

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Scratch & Dent Sale

It’s time for another Scratch & Dent sale! We have several books with minor cosmetic flaws that we’ve offering at 25% off (plus the standard shipping rate, found here). Flaws include a slight fold or scratch on the cover, dented spine or corner, or a slight discoloration on the cover. These dents are simply cosmetic and don’t affect the inside material whatsoever.

Contact us with your mailing address if you are interested in purchasing any of these books. We’ll then email you a customized Paypal invoice with payment required in 24 hours. But hurry – we expect them to go quickly!

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Excerpts from Ceremony and Celebration

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“Many rules of ceremony are governed by the principle of reverence. God demands reverence. We owe Him reverence. We owe it to Him, not only as an inner attitude, but also as an outward expression….We Christians show reverence to God because the Holy Spirit prompts and enables us to do the will of God in response to His grace and blessings….In the church’s worship we meet with God who has called us into His kingdom. Therefore we express our reverence toward Him, His Word, His sacraments, and all persons and things connected with our worship of Him.”   (p. 61)

“Communication is not limited to language. We express ourselves to others and we receive impressions from others and from God through signs and symbols. These communications by signs and symbols are often more effective than those of language. While this is true in ordinary life, it is particularly true in the church’s worship. The things communicated there have to do with the mysteries of our holy faith. These deep mysteries cannot, of course, be communicated so as to be understood fully or else they would no longer be mysteries. But signs and symbols often communicate the realities of the mysteries better than language.”    (p. 64)

Ceremony and Celebration is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to better understand why we do what we do in the Divine Service. Understanding what is going on around us increases our appreciation for and insight into the details of the liturgy. Find more excerpts here, here, and here.

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Thy Kingdom Come: Excerpts for Holy Saturday

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“This Jesus, who was crucified, who went as weak as a kitten to the cross, has sapped the devil of all his strength. The trickster has been tricked. He ate the fruit that hung from the tree on Calvary, tempted and beguiled like Eve in the garden. He ate, and now his belly bursts. His jaws are seared shut. He can take no more. He is done, finished, over. He has no accusations left. He hurled every last one of them at the Christ, and the Christ has answered for all of them, and there are none left for us or for anyone. Jesus died to take them away.”

“Did Satan then think that a rock or a guard could keep Jesus dead? The angels laugh at such a thought. Can a thimble hold the ocean? Can a dolphin swim to the moon? They hold Satan in derision. God is good. He gets His way. He won’t be stolen from. He takes back what is His. He takes Eve, Gomer, us back out of slavery and prostitution and error. He has bought and paid for us, and the devil has no claim. He got what he thought he wanted. He took a bite out of God. He bruised His heel. He spent all the fury of hell on Him and killed Him, put Him to death. But Jesus has crushed his head. The devil has nothing left. He cannot speak. He cannot lie anymore. Jesus died, but Jesus lives.”

–David H. Petersen in Thy Kingdom Come, 20% off through tonight as part of our Lent Sale

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Seed Grains of Prayer: A Prayer for Good Friday

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“Almighty, eternal God, Who for us hast caused Thy Son to suffer the pains of the cross, that Thou mightest put away the power of the enemy from us, grant so to observe the memory of His suffering that we may attain to the forgiveness of sin, and the surety of release from eternal death, to serve Thee in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. Amen.”

-W. Loehe in Seed Grains of Prayer, 20% off through tonight

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Seed Grains of Prayer: A Prayer for Holy Thursday

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“Lord Jesus Christ, Who hast given us the joy of Thy bread to eat and Thy cup to drink in remembrance of Thy sufferings, we pray Thee, enlighten us that by true self-examination we may worthily receive that Sacrament, in true discernment of Thy presence. Amen.”

-W. Loehe in Seed Grains of Prayer, 20% off through Saturday

*If you’re looking for a helpful tool for reflection and self-examination, consider the Beichtspiegel (“confession mirror”) available in our free Downloads.

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Thy Kingdom Come: An Excerpt from Maundy Thursday

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“The fruit of the tree is on the paten and in the chalice. The angel of death passes over. He has no claim upon us. We belong to God. We bear His watery name. We eat at His table. We are His people and more. We are not merely guests, sojourners in His house for but an hour, but we are members of the royal family raised up from stones. We are not Gentile dogs hoping for crumbs, worshiping what we do not know. We, by grace, are the Lord’s own beloved and immaculate bride. We belong to God. We are baptized. We eat at His table. We are gathered under the protecting shadow of the cross.”

-David H. Petersen in Thy Kingdom Come, 20% off through Saturday

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Ritual and Ceremonial: Lex Orandi Lex Credendi

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“Ritual and ceremonial are component parts of the liturgy. They are materials of the liturgy, the things involved in doing the liturgy….Ritual refers to that part of a divine service which consists of its words, that is, the rite or the order of service….Ceremonial is everything connected with the performance of a rite. It refers not only to bodily expressions, such as speaking, singing, kneeling, bowing, making the sign of the cross, and the outward observance of the church year, but also to the ornaments, symbols, and material objects employed in the church’s worship, for example, the church building, the altar, crucifixes, candles, and vestments. Ceremonies are solemn religious things and actions….Rites and ceremonies are an outward expression of what a church believes and teaches. An ancient Latin formula puts it this way: Lex orandi lex credendi. ‘As we worship so we believe’ or ‘as we believe so we worship.’ The externals in worship are a means of communication which people understand and by which they are often affected more readily and powerfully than by words.”

Paul H. D. Lang, Ceremony and Celebration, p. 6, 11. (20% off during Lent)

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Seed-Grains of Prayer: Prayer for Blessing and Prosperity in One’s Calling

seed-grains-grid“My Lord, and my God, I realize that man’s work does not depend upon his own powers nor is it in any man’s province to ordain his walks and ways. So rule and govern me at all times, by Thy Holy Spirit, that I may keep mine eyes straight before me in my calling, and faithfully perform my duty. Guide me evermore in the right paths, that I turn neither to the right nor to the left there-from.

“Direct me always by Thy good pleasure, and let Thy Spirit lead me in the true paths, for Thou art my God. I realize also that Thou hast called me to labor in Thy vineyard, and how, even in my Baptism, I promised Thee that I would labor. To this end, I beseech Thee, grant me a healthy body, and strengthen me, O Lord, cheerfully to bear the heat and labor of my calling, always ready and faithful unto Thee. And since I know not the hour when my labors shall cease, teach me to be ready at all times unto a blessed departure, willingly to leave this world, and to fall asleep in peace and joy; that I may celebrate the eternal day of rest with Thee and all Thine elect. Amen.”

Wilhelm Loehe, Seed-Grains of Prayer, p. 67  (20% off during Lent)

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Get a Signed Copy of Didache

In between international trips and teaching at Concordia Theological Seminary, Prof. John Pless graciously agreed to sign 30 copies of Didache for us to offer to our customers. In Didache, Pless brings together the Holy Scriptures, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the hymnal to teach what Lutherans confess (doctrine), how we receive Christ’s gifts in the Divine Service (liturgy), and how we pray and live under the cross of Jesus Christ (vocation).

These won’t last long…and they’re also 15% off!

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