Unveiling the book cover: He Restores My Soul

For the cover of He Restores My Soul, Katie Schuermann and Emmanuel Press commissioned an original work of art from Rebecca Shewmaker. While we gathered together ideas and expressed our vision to Rebecca, it was her artistic talent and theological understanding that produced a painting even more beautiful and peaceful than we imagined. Amidst the suffering and stress of this life, the Good Shepherd guards and keeps us, for “we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (Psalm 95:7).

The sky is streaked with pink to indicate dawn, showing the hopefulness of a new day and reminding us that we will be with our Shepherd on that final new day. Rebecca based the landscape on her memories of pastures near her childhood home, pastures which always have wide open fields with treed fence lines. Jesus faces the sheep and is attentive to them; the sheep are aware of His presence and are generally oriented toward Him. They are relaxed, however, feeling free and confident to do what sheep do – sit, eat, and wander around. Some of them are closer to Him, some further away, but they (and we) are always well within His care.

To create this tranquil scene, Rebecca used watercolor paint, applying thin layers that build color and tone from lightest to darkest. The first step in this landscape painting was the sky with its soft wash of pink, blue, and yellow. The field and trees were painted next in several layers, followed by the shadows and details on the sheep and shepherd.

For more information about He Restores My Soul and a complete list of authors and topics, visit our pre-order page, where you can save 10% by ordering before the release date. We are also in the final days of our Christmas in July sale! Save 20% on Christmas cards available only at Emmanuel Press.

Special thanks to our graphic designer Meghan Schultz, who collaborated with Janet Frese to design the cover. Visit Meghan’s Etsy site for a wide variety of theologically-based artwork, greeting cards, and decor.

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Christmas in July! Save 20% on all Christmas cards

It’s time for our annual Christmas in July sale! All Christmas cards are 20% off through Tuesday, July 31.

The card pictured here, A Child is Born, features illuminated artwork from a 14th-century choir book from a monastery in Italy. The inside greeting confesses, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Visit our Christmas cards page for more details and to see all 10 designs, found only at Emmanuel Press.

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The Great Works of God: Exodus – “Exegetically Profound and Spiritually Enriching”

Luther once said, “Remove Christ from the Scriptures and what more will you find in them?” For Luther and his fellow confessors, the whole of Scripture pointed to Christ and found its meaning in Him. Valerius Herberger’s robust Christological and sacramental reading of the Book of Exodus in The Great Works of God exemplifies this tradition.

Herberger, a gifted pastor and preacher, guides the reader through the mysteries of Christ in a manner that is both exegetically profound and spiritually enriching. He helpfully incorporates insights from the Church’s great theologians and hymns and ends his meditations with brief prayers. Herberger’s unique commentary will be useful for pastors preparing to preach and for families gathering for daily devotions. All who wish to see Christ in Exodus and to find comfort in the saving work of the Trinity will want to buy this book.

Matthew Carver has rendered a wonderful service to the church with his elegant translation and insightful notes. I wholeheartedly commend this beautiful commentary to all.

-Dr. Carl Beckwith, Professor of History and Doctrine
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University

For excerpts and purchase information, visit The Great Works of God, Parts Five and Six: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Exodus.

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A Hymn for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

The Nativity of John the Baptist in Speyer, Germany
Audio: Listen to A Hymn for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist chanted.

1. Let the example of Saint John remind us,
Ere we can meetly sing his deeds of wonder,
Hearts must be chastened,
And the bonds that bind us broken asunder!

2. Lo! a swift angel, from the skies descending,
Tells to his father what shall be his naming;
All his life’s greatness to its bitter ending
Duly proclaiming.

3. But when he doubted what the angel told him,
Came to him dumbness to confirm the story;
At John’s appearing, healed again behold him,
Chanting John’s glory!

4. Oh! what a splendour and a revelation
Came to each mother, at his joyful leaping,
Greeting his Monarch, King of ev’ry nation,
In the womb sleeping.

5. E’en in his childhood, ‘mid the desert places,
He had a refuge from the city gained,
Far from all slander and its bitter traces,
Living unstained.

6. Often had prophets in the distant ages
Sung to announce the Daystar and to name Him;
But as the Savior, last of all the sages,
John did proclaim Him.

7. Than John the Baptist, none of all Eve’s daughters
E’er bore a greater, whether high or lowly:
He was thought worthy, washing in the waters
Jesus the holy.

8. Angels in orders everlasting praise Thee,
God in Thy triune Majesty tremendous;
Hark to the prayers we, penitents, upraise Thee:
Save and defend us. Amen.

__________

Antra deserti, Paulus Diaconus, 8th century, trans. by R.E. Roberts, alt.
*At Morning Prayer: stanzas 1-4, 8; at Vespers: stanzas 5-8.
*An excerpt from The Brotherhood Prayer Book

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Weedon endorses The Great Works of God: Exodus

And just when you thought that the great works of God couldn’t get any greater after you’ve had the joy of Jesus all through his read of Genesis, Valerius Herberger marches into Exodus, and it’s more Jesus under every bush. Well, in every bush that burns and is not consumed!

What a tremendous blessing translator Matthew Carver has given us to enjoy the insights of Herberger’s iconic read of the Scriptures in English. Irenaeus famously wrote that the heretics take the stones of the mosaic that is Scripture and rearrange them, so that what emerges is a picture, not of the great King, but of a fox. Herberger is no heretic! He lets the stones be just where the Spirit plops them, but by that same Spirit he opens our eyes to see in them on every page the astounding image of the great King whose love embraced a world on His cross that it might live through Him.

There is no wonder this man was regarded as the Lutheran Chrysostom. His piety burns with the fire of the Spirit and his joy in Christ is unquenchable, nourished by the Sacred Scriptures. You will be so blessed by joining Herberger on your journey and letting him be your guide in the Word. The Church owes a debt of gratitude to Matthew Carver for this labor of love, to the Master of Divinity Class of 2018 of Concordia Theological Seminary for the foresight to fund such an endeavor, and to Emmanuel Press for publishing it!

-William Weedon, Chaplain, LCMS Director of Worship

For excerpts and purchase information, visit The Great Works of God, Parts Five and Six: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Exodus.

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On the use of ceremonies

Why is it that some Christians kneel, bow, genuflect, make the sign of the cross on themselves, or hold their hands in a particular fashion during the Divine Service? These physical actions are called ceremonies, which are solemn religious actions that help to confess what we believe.

As Paul H.D. Lang writes in Ceremony and Celebration, “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)

Here are a few brief excerpts on the particular actions, taken from Lang’s much more detailed explanations in his book:

  • “For standing, sitting, and kneeling, the general rule is that we stand for prayer and praise, we sit for instruction and for lengthy chants and hymns, and we kneel for confession and adoration.” (p. 66)
  • “Bowing and genuflecting are very closely related. A genuflection is merely a more profound bow….Bowing or kneeling when the words of the Nicene Creed are said, ‘And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost…and was made man,’ expresses reverent awe over God’s grace in becoming man in order to redeem us. Luther speaks at length about the meaning of these words and how we should show our appreciation and reverence for the Incarnation.” (p. 68-69)
  • “Crossing oneself was practiced by Christians from the earliest centuries and may go back to apostolic times….It is one of the traditional ceremonies that was most definitely retained by Luther and the Lutheran Church in the 16th-century Reformation….The holy cross is the symbol of our salvation. We were signed with it when we were baptized. It is the sign by which the church blesses people and things. By using it we become part of the wonderful history of our faith and companions in the company of the saints. It is right that we should make the sign of the cross frequently and to glory in it, saying with St. Paul, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Gal. 6:14)”. (p. 72-73)
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What an Altar Guild Should Know: Not Just for the Altar Guild

WAG

Along with Ceremony and Celebration (see the previous post), we also offer this gem from Paul H. D. Lang: What an Altar Guild Should Know. In this book, 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 in conjunction with 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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Back in stock: Ceremony and Celebration

“Our attitude toward human rites and ceremonies is evangelical, not legalistic. Rubrics and directions do not proceed from the Law but from the Gospel. We do not want conformity on the basis of legal compunction, but on the basis of our new life in Jesus Christ by which we are made free from the curse of the Law and are enabled by the Holy Spirit to live more and more in Christian love and liberty.”

-Paul H. D. Lang in Ceremony and Celebration, an excellent resource for those who want to better understand why we do what we do in the Divine Service.

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The Great Works of God: Exodus – A “remarkable set of meditations”

“Behold, I come, in the book it is written of Me.” With this “profound and wonderful word” Valerius Herberger began his remarkable set of meditations in The Great Works of God, Parts Five and Six: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of ExodusNow Matthew Carver has produced a highly readable translation of this Lutheran pastor’s devotional commentary.

This is no dry academic work, although its author was by no means devoid of linguistic expertise and theological erudition. Rather, it is a series of animated exegetical studies, complete with vivid applications, that reflect Herberger’s conviction that the point of scholarship in the service of the Church is ultimately worship. Each of the 134 meditations begins with the word “Jesus.” Even though some 400 years separate our own age from that of Herberger’s, anyone who wishes to learn how to read the Book of Exodus from a Christocentric perspective today will find much that is still uniquely valuable in this splendid volume from Emmanuel Press.

-Dr. Carl P. E. Springer

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Now available for pre-order: He Restores My Soul

Pre-order He Restores My Soul and save 10%! You’ll find a complete list of authors and topics on the book’s main page along with a link to the cover artist. Stay tuned in the coming months as we reveal the cover art and more details about this unique project!

While you’re waiting for the release of this new book, have a look at Katie Schuermann’s He Remembers the Barren, the book that served as inspiration for He Restores My Soul.

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