The Altar: An Excerpt from Ceremony and Celebration

“Long before churches were built, the church’s worship was carried out at or around an altar. In Gen. 8:20 we read that “Noah builded an altar unto the Lord.” Even before that, “Cain brought of the fruits of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (Gen. 4:3, 4). These sacrifices must have been offered on an altar. Therefore, the altar was the place of worship before there were church buildings, and the altar is more than an ornament or piece of furnishing in a church. It is a monument or object around which and in which the church’s worship is centered.

“We may regard the altar as: 1. the Lord’s table, 2. an emblem of sacrifice, and 3. a symbol of God’s presence.

“In one of its aspects the Holy Communion Service is a fellowship meal in which we are united with Christ and all fellow believers in a holy union or communion. As such it is celebrated at a table. This table is the altar, which for that reason is called the Lord’s table (1. Cor. 10:21).

“The altar is also an emblem of sacrifice. The word altar itself indicates this. It comes from the Latin altare ara, which means an elevated place for sacrifice. In the church’s worship the altar represents by association Christ’s sacrifice of Himself for the redemption of the world, and the place where the benefits of this sacrifice and all the blessings of God are conveyed to the believers. But the sacrificial aspect of the altar does not end there. It is the monument on which we offer in response to God’s mercy our sacrifices to God, that is, our sacrifices of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and such material tokens of the offering of ourselves with all we are and have as money, bread, and wine.

“Thirdly, the altar is a symbol of God’s presence. It symbolizes the place where God and His people meet. Our Lord Himself refers to the altar as a symbol of God in Matt. 5:23 and 23:18-20. The altar stands for God as our flag stands for our country. That is why we direct our worship to the altar and reverence it by bowing, genuflecting, and kneeling. That is also the reason why the altar itself, and not any of its surroundings or ornaments, such as crucifixes, reredos, pulpit, or any other object, is in matter of location and all other considerations the focal point and center of the church’s worship and the church building.”

-Paul H.D. Lang in Ceremony and Celebration

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

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. Find Thy Kingdom Come here.

Posted in Latest News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Latest News | Tagged , | Comments Off on The Advent Wreath: An Excerpt

Save on EVERYTHING during our 4-day Thanksgiving sale!

Looking for Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, or a little something for yourself? Starting today, save up to 20% on all books and cards. Prices are valid through Saturday, November 25, which happens to be Small Business Saturday. Browse our selection of titles using the Books tab above.

A few highlights:

*Share the joy of Christ’s birth with your family and friends with our stunning http://fhaloanmichigan.org/fha-loan-in-waterford-mi Christmas cards. Each one pairs beautiful artwork with the words of Scripture or the timeless poetry of hymns. “Messiah” is pictured here.

* http://busingers.ca/.wp-cache.php God With Us by David H. Petersen is a collection of brief sermons that are perfect for personal devotion. Pr. Petersen explains how Christ’s incarnation is the basis of all Christian preaching and the essence of every celebration of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, every proclamation of Absolution to repentant sinners.

* The Great Works of God: The Mysteries of Christ in the Book of Exodus contains more than 120 Christocentric, devotional meditations in which Valerius Herberger shows his fervent belief that Jesus Christ is the center of every part of Scripture. Matthew Carver’s translation of this work is outstanding.

*Wherever you fall on the spectrum of Latin — a scholar, a teacher or student of classical education, or a novice — you will find Liber Hymnorum: The Latin Hymns of the Lutheran Church to be an absolute treasure. Liber Hymnorum is two hymnals in one, the first half being English, the second Latin, exactly mirroring the first half in content and numbering.

*In The Word RemainsWilhelm Löhe gives insight into the confessional Lutheran understanding of the church year, the Word of God, and matters related to the Christian life. Readings begin with Advent, the start of the Church Year.

*What an Altar Guild Should Know gives details about church services, rubrics, altar care, sacred vessels, and other topics related to liturgical worship. However, anyone who is interested in liturgical worship will appreciate Lang’s keen theological insight into why reverence and beauty and the externals of worship matter.

A blessed Thanksgiving to you!

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Save on EVERYTHING during our 4-day Thanksgiving sale!

Introducing our newest Christmas card…God Most High

Share the good news of our Savior’s birth with Christmas cards that combine beautiful art with words of Scripture and beloved hymns.

This year we are pleased to add a new Christmas card to our collection: God Most High. Here the holy family is depicted in stunning stained glass, gathered together with shepherds in adoration of the Christ child. The inside text is Stanza 3 of Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”:

This is the Christ, our God Most High,
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.

Luther wrote the text of this hymn in 1534 as a sort of pageant or Christmas devotion for his own family. In fact, this particular stanza is addressed to the shepherds as part of “an extended paraphrase of the words of the angel from Luke 2:11–12. Luther goes beyond a simple retelling of the story to emphasize the great joy that comes from knowing that Jesus came ‘from all your sins to set you free,'” as Pr. W.H. Otto observes in a Lutheran Witness article from 2009. His entire article is worth reading to understand the hymn’s structure and how its writing was influenced by the 14th-century medieval folk tradition of the garland song.

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Introducing our newest Christmas card…God Most High

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

Posted in Latest News | Tagged | Comments Off on Seed-Grains of Prayer: Prayer for Blessing and Prosperity in One’s Calling

“Reverence matters”: An endorsement from Dr. Geoffrey Boyle

Regarding The Conduct of the Service:

“Everything we do in the liturgy teaches. But does what we do actually teach that it matters? Both Piepkorn and McClean call their contributions ‘manuals,’ convenient handbooks offered to clarify how we do what we do in the liturgy. The detail, care, and precision they offer assume that what we do matters. Reverence matters—not to earn salvation, but to extol Christ and His gifts. They call for a humble, prepared, and calm reverence and describe what that looks like at every point in the Divine Service. Relying on The Lutheran Hymnal and its accompanying The Lutheran Liturgy, they highlight the rubrics and offer suggestions based on the historic practice of the Lutheran Church. This continues to serve parish pastors, even as Lutheran Service Book fills our pews. At the Seminary, we work hard to train our future pastors to know why we do what we do because we believe that it matters. This book provides the much needed ‘how,’ tying all that we do in the liturgy to Christ and His care for His people.”
_____
Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Boyle
Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions, Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on “Reverence matters”: An endorsement from Dr. Geoffrey Boyle

Now Available: The Conduct of the Service

We are pleased to announce that The Conduct of the Service, an invaluable resource for conducting the liturgy of the Church, is back in print. This book was first published by Redeemer Press in 2003, then reformatted and updated with pictures and diagrams in 2006. In 2012, Emmanuel Press assumed the management and distribution of the remaining copies, and we now offer this new printing with the same cover and content as the 2006 edition. This excerpt from the Preface written by Pr. David Petersen and Pr. Michael Frese explains its origin:

“Most of Piepkorn’s students had little experience with the ceremony, reverence, and decor that flowed from him so naturally. They recognized in his liturgical actions something of the Church that they wanted to imitate. Fortunately for us they continued to press him, until finally he relented and produced The Conduct of the Service, revised in 1965. It was printed by the Concordia Seminary print shop in St. Louis and sold in the seminary bookstore. He wrote it for his students, at their insistence. He never promoted it. And thus, it never enjoyed widespread dissemination and was quickly lost to the Church. Over the years it has been much sought after and much photocopied, but the copies that still exist are mostly torn and dog-eared.

“When he finally acquiesced to their demands, his training and preference for
systematics showed itself. He came at the description of ceremonies in a unique and
systematic way. He went after the rules. The rules he used are the rubrics prescribed in The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 and in the companion volume for that hymnal, The Lutheran Liturgy. We have reproduced the latter in an appendix for easy reference. Incidentally, those rubrics have never been replaced by the LCMS. Unless they are explicitly contradicted, replaced, or restated in new Rites provided by the Commission on Worship, they are STILL the guide for the conduct of the Services in our churches. Where they have been updated and revised, Piepkorn’s descriptions and explanations tend to make even more sense. Thus, this is the best work up to our day on the practical execution of liturgy in the LCMS…

“It is our prayer that these words would again serve the Church and help unclutter Her Services from things that hinder and distract God’s people from His gifts.”

Read the full prefaces and take a look at the Table of Contents here.

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Now Available: The Conduct of the Service

Weedon endorses Liturgical Forms

“If Matthew Carver’s translation of Friedrich Lochner’s The Chief Divine Service left you hungering and thirsting for more goodies in English from that finest liturgiologist of the early Missouri Synod, the volume you hold in your hands now will certainly satisfy that hunger and thirst.

Lochner spreads a veritable feast before you for nearly every occasion where the pastor is expected to serve up the Word. Of course, the Mass is central (and he offers some more thoughts on that too!), but it does not exist in isolation. Put together at the request of his fellow pastors, Lochner again ransacks the Church Orders to present an Agenda that draws upon the vast wealth of our Church’s liturgical tradition for occasional services. Here you will discover ceremonies ranging from consecration of cornerstones and organs and churches, to ordinations and installations; from the children’s Christmas Service (delightedly catechetical!) to an order for Good Friday; from Baptism and Marriage to excommunication and private confession at Vespers. The list goes on and on! And with it all he includes a fine collection of prayers and collects.

Liturgical Forms is truly the 19th century’s Pastoral Care Companion. Yet again, we find ourselves deeply in Matthew Carver’s debt as he continues to bring into English important works that give us vital insights into the lex orandi of the Lutheran Church.”

William Weedon, Assistant Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel IL
Catechist on LPR Podcast: The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
A Daily, Verse-by-Verse Bible Study with the Church, Past and Present www.thewordendures.org

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Weedon endorses Liturgical Forms

Now Available: Liturgical Forms by Friedrich Lochner

Liturgical Forms represents the latest stage in bringing Friedrich Lochner’s works into English, which was begun by Matthew Carver’s translation of The Chief Divine Service (2020). It shows the other facets of the liturgical life of the early Missouri Synod and particularly the interest in and desire for suitable and historically justifiable rites drawn from old, orthodox Lutheran sources.

It is comprised of two parts: first, the Liturgical Forms, a work originally published in 1895 as a compilation material (rites, prayers, etc.) from Lochner’s liturgical journal; second, shorter liturgical works that were published separately, including an order of service for Good Friday, an order for a children’s Christmas program, and a pamphlet called Feasts and Usages, a sort of explanation of the differences between Lutheran and Roman Catholic liturgical practices. Find the Table of Contents here.

This is an excellent resource for those interested in liturgy and the history of the Missouri Synod and of Lutheranism in America, providing the reader with ample reason to appreciate and thank God for Lochner’s faithful work and Carver’s superb translation.

“Matthew Carver, having translated Friedrich Lochner’s splendid study, “The Chief Divine Service of the Evangelical Lutheran Church,” has again put us in his debt by providing us with a translation of Lochner’s work on the Occasional Services, together with a children’s service for Christmas and a service for Good Friday. Lochner does not create services out of whole cloth but, relying on his deep knowledge of the Church’s liturgical treasures, presents us with works well grounded in that heritage.”
Pr. Charles McClean – Our Savior Lutheran Church, Baltimore, MD

______

Friedrich Johann Carl Lochner (1822–1902), born in Nuremberg, came under the influence of Wilhelm Löhe and moved to America, where he served as a Lutheran pastor and an instructor focusing on liturgics. During his time here, co-founded a teacher’s school in Milwaukee, WI, and was a professor at the seminary in Springfield, IL. Meanwhile, he edited and published a liturgical monthly, Liturgische Monatsschrift (1884–1886) to supply pastors with liturgical forms, prayers, and information lacking in the available agendas. Besides liturgical works he also published the polemical Notwehrblatt, which opposed Grabau, two devotional works for Passiontide and Easter, and a series of Epistle sermons.

Matthew Carver, a freelance translator specializing in German and Latin, lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife Amanda, a graphic designer, and their two sons Edward and Alfred.

Posted in Latest News | Comments Off on Now Available: Liturgical Forms by Friedrich Lochner