General Rules of Ceremony: The Second Principle

In the post just before this one, we described the first principle of the general rules of ceremony as outlined by Paul Lang in Ceremony and Celebration. In this book, Lang discusses how the confessional Lutheran position on ceremony is based on both tradition and the Holy Scriptures.

Continuing on to the second: “The next principle is love. God’s law demands that we love Him above all things and our neighbors as ourselves. But again, our Christian obedience flows not from the Law but the Gospel. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another’ (1 John 4:10-11). We show our love to God and to our fellow worshipers in many ceremonies. The rule for these ceremonies is the law of love.” (p. 61)

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General Rules of Ceremony: The First Principle


In Ceremony and Celebration, Paul H.D. Lang discusses a broad spectrum of topics relating to Lutheran liturgical worship. In Chapter 9, he shows how the confessional Lutheran position on ceremony is based on both tradition and the Holy Scriptures. (For definitions of ritual and ceremonial, read this excerpt.) Lang identifies four general rules of ceremony, which we will be posting over the next several days. The first of these is the principle of reverence.

“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. ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear’ (Heb. 12:28). 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)

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Looking for a Confirmation Gift?

Six Chief Parts FB

Our Six Chief Parts artwork (left), created by Lutheran artist Edward Riojas, features the six chief parts of The Small Catechism in a cruciform shape. It is available as a greeting card or as an 8″ x 10″ print, ready for framing.

The following description of the symbolism is printed on the back of each card and is provided in sticker form with each print for affixing to the back of the frame:

Symbols for each of the six chief parts are arranged in a cruciform shape: tablets of the Law represent the Ten Commandments; chalice and host, the Lord’s Supper; scallop shell with three water drops, Holy Baptism; thurible with incense rising to heaven, the Lord’s Prayer; and crossed keys, the Office of the Keys. Central to all is a triangle interwoven with a circle, symbolizing the Holy Trinity confessed in the Apostle’s Creed. These symbols are charged on a red Latin cross pointing to Christ’s all-atoning sacrifice, which in turn gives life and produces fruit in the life of the Church and her saints.

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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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An Excerpt from 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)

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


“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


“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


“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


“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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