“As we worship, so we believe” – Lex orandi, lex credendi

“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.” (p. 22)

“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.” (p. 6, 11)

Ceremony and Celebration by Paul H.D. Lang is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to better understand why we do what we do in the Divine Service. As noted in the Preface, there is “a pious desire of both pastors and parishioners to be reverent in worship. That is the genius of this little book: It speaks to all participants in the Divine Service, not just pastors and theologians.”

The Divine Service is where Christians gather around Word and Sacrament. Its liturgy provides the structure for keeping Christ as the central focus. The words, music, actions, and physical elements of the Divine Service all play a role in the liturgy. Pastors and parishioners join together to receive God’s gifts, each playing a distinct yet integral part as defined by the liturgy, in accordance with God’s will (Heb. 10:25; 1 Cor. 14:40).

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Is Jesus in Exodus?

In a blog post entitled “Is Jesus in Exodus?” and also in an interview on Issues, Etc., Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes ponders the many different ways that Jesus is “in” Exodus.

Last year we published The Great Works of God: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Exodus, a translation which was underwritten by the Class of 2018 of Concordia Theologically Seminary. Originally written in German by Lutheran pastor Valerius Herberger, the book is now available in English, thanks to the work and talent of translator Matthew Carver. It is an outstanding resource for reading Exodus devotionally, focusing on Jesus as the center of Scripture and the fulfillment of all the types in Exodus.

As Carver notes, Herberger “writes mainly for the average educated layperson, with a very personal style. He mostly avoids technical or theological jargon and offers interesting insights….It is useful as a devotional since nothing exactly like this exists today.” Furthermore, Carver explains the book’s wide appeal: “It can be used theologically for perspectives on biblical interpretation and typology, devotionally for personal spiritual enrichment, and homiletically as an example of historical models of applying interpretation.”

Read excerpts and reviews by Dr. Carl Springer, Pr. William Weedon, Dr. Carl Beckwith, and Rev. Brian Kachelmeier.

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An excerpt from Thy Kingdom Come: “Thou art the Christ”

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“That is the right answer in all difficulties, sorrow, and temptation: ‘I believe that Thou art the Christ.’ That is the right answer in confusion as well. ‘Do you believe that Lazarus, who is dead, is not dead? Do you believe that these evil things are for the glory of God, that it is good that Lazarus was not spared this pain, or you your grief?’ He asks. And she says, ‘I believe that Thou art the Christ.’

“Jesus is the Christ. He is the resurrection and the life. That is the answer because it is the only thing that matters, the only thing that endures, the only thing that is trustworthy. Jesus is the Christ.

“Yes, we can speculate and make up excuses and find ways that death is good or cancer is a gift, but it is pretty thin, and it rarely brings comfort. We do well to learn from St. Martha not to excuse the evil in this world, but to simply say, ‘I believe that Thou art the Christ. Somehow this will be good. I don’t know how. I can’t see it. But Thou art the Christ. I have a Savior. God loves me. Death itself will come to an end. Thou wilt bring it together and bring me home.’

“May God in His mercy keep this clearly in our hearts and minds, that whatever afflicts us—fear of death, despair of our sins, deep sadness and loneliness—we might be kept safe in this Word and faith until the end. Yes, I believe that Thou art the Christ.”
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This is an excerpt from the sermon for Friday of Laetare (the fourth week in Lent) based on John 11:1-45. Thy Kingdom Come (which is currently 20% off!) is a collection of Lent and Easter sermons by Rev. David H. Petersen. With over sixty sermons spanning Pre-Lent, all forty days of Lent, and the Sundays after Easter, this book is an excellent daily devotion for both pastors and parishioners.

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Writing Contest: He Remembers the Barren

Emmanuel Press is joining with Katie Schuermann and the hosts of He Remembers the Barren blog to sponsor a writing contest. To enter, submit a reflection (no more than 800 words) on the following prompt: “I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1) by Monday, March 25. While you can read all of the details here, we do want to point out that the prize is a 14.7″ x 18″ giclee print of the cover art (left) from the second edition of He Remembers the Barren. We commissioned this beautiful painting from Edward Riojas; learn more about him at edriojasartist.com.

In a recent interview on KFUO’s The Coffee Hour, Katie Schuermann discussed the symbolism in the painting, the theme for the writing contest, and why the season of Lent is an appropriate time for such a contest. And the scope of submissions is not limited to barrenness, as Katie explains in the interview. How has the Lord inclined to you and heard your cry? We look forward to your submissions, dear readers!

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Bulk discounts for He Restores My Soul

As He Restores My Soul nears its six-month anniversary, we look back at this half year with much thankfulness. We are honored to have worked with such talented authors whose writing beautifully and continually points us to Jesus Christ. And we are humbled and grateful for the eager response from our customers and the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (see excerpts below).

Did you know that we structured He Restores My Soul to work well for either individual reading or for groups to read together? Study questions accompany every chapter, and each of the 14 chapters functions independently from the others, making it easy to read straight through or in parts. We also offer bulk discounts for larger orders. Save 15% on orders of 10-19 books, 20% on 20-29 books, and 25% on 30+ books. To take advantage of the savings, contact us for a customized invoice.
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“How often do we look at the Christians around us, marveling at their “put-together” lives, and secretly tuck our own struggle and insufficiency away? This book reminds us that living in this world is hard, and the effects of sin and our brokenness is something that we all share….Their stories do not prescribe a formula for temporal victory. They do not leave us praising each writer for her courage, faith, and strength. They are not given as a self-help digest. They simply remind us that, in all things, as God’s children living under the cross, we must look to Jesus for help and rest and restoration.”
-St. Louis Lutheran on Amazon

“I read this book in a single sitting, staying up late into the evening to finish. Every woman’s chapter was beautifully written, and each one left me with a deeper appreciation of the human condition, and a greater awareness of the struggles in life we know nothing about.” -Rebekah Theilen on Goodreads

“They share their tragedies but there is always triumph through Jesus. They suffer and are yet rejoicing in the cross of Christ. This book is filled with encouragement for the daily Christian life but also hope and wisdom for those extra rough seasons of life. Well worth your time and a great gift for those who may need a word of encouragement.”
-Jamie Lynn on Goodreads

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Easter greeting cards

Lent has just begun, but now is the time to plan ahead for Easter greeting cards. This theologically-rich card, “Eastertide,” features art by Edward Riojas. It depicts Jesus’ victory over the grave, for Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The inside verse proclaims:

For the sheep the Lamb has bled,
Sinless in the sinner’s stead.
Christ the Lord is ris’n on high;
Now He lives, no more to die.
Alleluia!

This particular card is limited-edition and not available on our website. Instead, you’ll need to contact us with the details of your order. Prices are as follows (shipping included): 5 cards for $9.95; 15 cards for $18.95. Once you email us with your order, we’ll send you a customized Paypal invoice for payment. *Not available for international shipment. Card dimensions are 6.25″ x 4.5″.

Available for regular purchase is our “Resurrection” greeting card. Through His death and resurrection, Christ has broken the gates of hell and conquered death. He raises Adam and Eve from their tombs, grasping their wrists as they passively obey. His victory over death redeems all mankind, even back to the Fall. This scene foreshadows the resurrection of the body on the last day. Find more details here.

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Thy Kingdom Come: An Excerpt from Ash Wednesday

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“Your ashes are smeared today. There is no beauty in them. The world cannot see anything in them but an ugly smudge of dirt and death. But for those with the eyes of faith, they are in the form of a cross, that most lovely and dear of all symbols, that emblem of our hope.

“We set our faces toward Jerusalem today. We turn our backs on sin. We look through the gallows on Golgotha and see the glory of the cross enlightening the empty tomb. He has been lifted up from the earth to draw us to Him, to drain the Law’s accusing power, to empty hell’s claim, to crush the devil’s head, to bestow peace upon the meek.

“You are a holy people, anointed with ashes. You belong to the Lord. His mark and name are upon you. This is what it is to be sanctified, to be holy. You are forgiven, to be sure, but there is more than that. You are not only forgiven, or just made even with God, as though you never did anything wrong, and that is that. There is more. For not only has your debt been wiped out, but there is a credit to your account. You aren’t just even; you are holy. You belong to Him. You have the superabundance of His good works counting as your own, and the earth, indeed all of the universe, if your inheritance.

“So remember that you are dust and that you will return to dust. But remember also that God is a man, dust like you, joined to your temptations and sorrow, welded to your death, who was roasted to death in the Father’s wrath, reduced to ashes, and laid to rest in God’s good acre as a ransom, a whole burnt offering. That man is risen again from the dead and has come forth from the earth like a plant in the spring, that He would be your God. Turn your back on sin. Turn toward the Lord and His mercy. For here is peace and joy. Here is hope and faith.”

-David H. Petersen in Thy Kingdom Comesave 20% on this title during Lent

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Thy Kingdom Come: 20% off during Lent

“[The Lord] sows where no reasonable sower would sow: on the trodden path, in rocky and thorny ground. And His Word does what no ordinary sower could expect of his seed. It transforms the ground. It bears fruit in the unlikely hearts of rebellious men. He sows because He is good and His seed is good and we need it.

“He is no respecter or persons and does not discriminate. He sows His seed lavishly, inviting all those with ears to hear. No one comes to this kingdom worthily. There are no good people, no plowed and ready ground. There are only sinners. Some are stubborn and deny that they are sinners or deny that Jesus is the Lord’s Christ. But some – by grace, not because they are good or smart, but because He is good – are transformed and acknowledge their need for grace and the lordship of Jesus Christ. He who has gets more. The kingdom is not built on justice, but on grace.”
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This is an excerpt from the sermon for Sexagesima in Thy Kingdom Come by David H. Petersen. Sexagesima is the second Sunday in Pre-Lent, which falls on February 24 this year. The readings for this particular Sunday according to the historic lectionary are Isaiah 55:10-13, 2 Corinthians 11:19-12:9, and Luke 8:4-15. Thy Kingdom Come is 20% off during Lent.

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Thy Kingdom Come: An Excerpt from Septuagesima

“The main point of the parable is that entrance into the kingdom comes by grace. The workers are rewarded for work they did not perform. This is hardly a surprise to us; in fact, we practically expect it.

“G.K. Chesterton once said, ‘Do not be proud of the fact that your grandmother was shocked at something which you are accustomed to seeing or hearing without being shocked…It may be that your grandmother was an extremely lively and vital animal and that you are a paralytic.’

“Chesterton has in mind immoral things. He means, ‘Don’t think you are more sophisticated than your grandmother because you watch television shows full of vulgarities and aren’t bothered by them. It could be that she was highly intelligent and sensitive and you have been paralyzed by evil so much that you don’t even notice it.’

“The same sort of numbness applies to the Gospel as well. I fear that it is even worse. We’re not just numb, but we’ve crossed over the line drawn by Bonhoeffer into ‘cheap grace.’ I fear we’re now guilty of thinking grace is worse than cheap; it is a right, an entitlement, as though God owed us salvation. Repent.”

These are the first 4 paragraphs from the sermon for Septuagesima, based on Matthew 20:1-16.
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With Ash Wednesday nearing on March 6, now is the time to order your copy of Thy Kingdom Come. This book of sixty sermons begins with Septuagesima (February 17) and continues with Pre-Lent, all forty days of Lent, and the Sundays after Easter. Pastors and parishioners alike find it to be an excellent daily devotion during Lent. Click on the Reviews tab above for links to interviews and reviews, have a look at the Table of Contents here, or use the word cloud in the right sidebar (“Thy Kingdom Come” or “Petersen”) to find a variety of excerpts.

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The Advent Wreath: An Excerpt

“The lighting of an Advent wreath during the Advent season is a Christian ceremony which has come down to us from about the time of Martin Luther. As before the birth of Christ the light of prophecy concerning His advent and His redemptive work became brighter and brighter, so the nearer we come in the church year to the feast of His nativity, the greater the amount of light from the Advent wreath. This ceremony is helpful for recalling, discussing, and teaching the significance of Advent.”

-An excerpt from Ceremony and Celebration, in which Rev. Paul H.D. Lang describes the theological significance and historic, confessional Lutheran position on liturgy, ritual, and ceremony.

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