Thursday, January 19, 2012
That got me thinking… That sounds like something I’d expect to hear from a member of practically any church body, except Lutheran.
Being raised Baptist, and being the daughter of a Baptist minister, I have to say ~ You Lutherans don’t know what a treasure you possess! Please don’t trade it off for something else designed to appeal to human emotions, intellect, reasoning, and feelings! A church body’s doctrine is reflected in its worship and music. Yeah ~ it is… think about it. Pick up a hymnal ~ any hymnal. Then pick up a Lutheran hymnal. Compare the songs. What are they about? Who are they about? Is it full of “I, me, my, mine” or is it full of Christ? Although I love my friend dearly, I have to ask: What is it with all these Lutheran Baptist-wanna-be’s?
Before my husband’s application to the seminary could be accepted we had to go through an interview with our District President and a couple of other pastors. That is the process. During that interview one of the pastors, knowing my background, asked me, “was becoming Lutheran hard for you?” My answer was, “YES ~ Absolutely! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done because it required me to examine my entire belief system: what do I believe and why do I believe it?” His next question was, "Would you ever go back to being Baptist?" My answer: "Knowing what I now know, no! Never!"
Many years before that pre-seminary interview, before I met my husband, I had visited several different types of churches. Afterall, we were all worshiping the same God, weren’t we? So what does it matter if we do it in our own unique way? I supposed it was okay, as long as they’re sincere… after all, who am I to judge a person’s heart or the way they choose to worship?” I used to say that I was going to church there to get my ‘battery’ recharged. I was a ’seeker’, so I attended those services until I left feeling just as empty inside as I had when I began.
Baptist from the age of 10, I felt more comfortable in a church where there was singing from the Baptist Hymnal, no one disrupting the service. There was more order and there were no surprises from the choir. Every congregational song was led by a paid Director of Music. Then the pastor would deliver a wholloping sermon as he beat the pulpit with his fist. His job was to make people feel so guilty, so evil, so wretched and unworthy that they’d come forward during altar call at the end of the service. And he did a good job of it too! During altar call the pastor stood in the pulpit or at the front of the church urging people to come forward and ‘accept’ Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. ”The first step is the hardest,” he would say. “… once you step into that aisle you’re on your way home.” So I treked down that aisle. And I did it again and again and again. But I couldn’t get that peace that they said comes from ‘knowing’ Christ. There I often heard the word “grace” but the Gospel was used to beat people into submission to God. It wasn’t presented rightly. The idea is this: Jesus Died for You ~ you should live for Him. Like I *owed* him something in exchange for my salvation. His love was not unconditional. I lived in a perpetual state of doubting my salvation and I was constantly asking myself if I really meant it when I went forward and prayed the ’sinner’s prayer’. I was never sure of my sincerity. So I profaned the blood of Christ by believing that if I tried hard enough, I might be able to earn this ‘grace’. I was even Baptized twice ~~ because I wasn’t sure that I really understood what I was doing in my Baptism. What I was doing?? What WAS I doing??? What a mess I was.
Many years later, I sat in on an adult “information” class at a Lutheran church (LCMS). It was extrememly uncomfortable but I stuck it out for 3 weeks. I had been an unchurched Baptist for several years. But a Baptist, none the less, so I considered myself. I knew the Bible very well. And knowing the Bible I knew where to look in order to defend my Baptist beliefs. I let that pastor and everyone else in that class know how horribly wrong they were about baptism and communion. Oh Yeah ….. I let them have it. The pastor just wasn’t looking at the scriptures rightly, and I was going to show him. But I couldn’t out argue him. “This guy’s tough,” I thought. And it was aggravating, so I quit going. (As it turned out, that very pastor was one of the men attending the pre-seminary interview! Scary? You bet, but it made his day.)
After that, I didn’t visit any church for a long time, but I still considered myself Baptist.
Let’s get back to that pre-seminary interview now… I was sitting at a round table with some ‘big-wig’ Lutherans who would determine my husband’s future so my knees were knocking. Like I said earlier, becoming Lutheran was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – even harder than childbirth. In childbirth you know what you’re working toward. But examining your entire belief system requires some brutal honesty.
It was at that Baptismal font the day our baby was baptized. On that day I tried to resist what the Holy Spirit was working in me, but He was stronger than all my Baptist beliefs. For it was at that Baptismal font that I saw close up for the first time what the true meaning of grace is. I saw the pure and unconditional grace of God’s love for my little three week old son, who was helpless to do anything for himself, being poured out on his little head. And as the tears streamed uncontrollably down my cheeks, I knew that this was a work of God.
Not long after that I began adult Catechism with the pastor. I was fortunate enough to be the only person in the class. So I could ask him anything I wanted to. And I could argue fiercly as I wanted to. This pastor, God bless him, was kind and patient but firm in his explanations. He showed me what the scripture says about Baptism and Communion and salvation. It was all there – plain and simple. So how could I continue believing anything different than exactly what scripture said? I couldn’t, and I didn’t. And here I am.
Having wandered far off the topic I expected to write about, I will say this:
Don’t throw out the Liturgy in exchange for “feel good” stuff. We Lutheran Lutherans go to church to receive. Yes, we give back too. But the primary thing we receive are forgiveness of sins, salvation from death and the devil, and God’s pure, unconditional grace distributed to us in the two sacraments Christ established for us for His purpose.. and the Liturgy points us to Christ and Christ alone. The Liturgy shifts the focus of worship from “I, me, my, and mine” to Christ and what He has done for us.
One difference in musical text that has particularly struck me is this: The Baptist hymnal says “my salvation” while the Liturgy says “thy salvation”. Whose salvation is it anyway? Yours or His?
Just a post-script: I know there are true believers in other Christian denominations. And this is true. However, we must be able to recognize the error in their beliefs and practices. And we must not try to be like them in worship. We must continue to defend and protect the purity of Lutheran Doctrine and Lutheran Worship.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
During the Stearns County fair I had a chance to visit with a young woman in her twenties. She said that all her life, abortion has been legal - culturally accepted, and presented by media and medical professionals as a normal acceptable option to women facing unintended pregnancy - obviously, she was born after the United States Supreme court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade, on January 22nd, 1973.
"It’s a cultural issue", said a friend of mine -- “we need to change the culture”. Cultural changes happen over time. It’s taken us 38 years and 2 generations to get here. We DO need to change the culture. Cultural changes happen one person at a time through education and awareness campaigns. We see firsthand that we are changing people’s lives, one person at a time. And we couldn’t do it without you.
Last year I visited with a young woman who wanted to argue in defense of abortion. “It’s a woman’s right, it’s her body, it’s her choice, it’s legal, it’s between her and her god”, - the usual arguments we’ve all heard in favor of abortion. We talked for awhile -- but the conversation reached an impass - So I said to her: “You’re in favor of abortion … then you probably won’t mind looking at some pictures of aborted babies, right?” She agreed. So we went to the computer and searched Google Images for “abortion”. We spent forty five minutes looking at pictures and videos of abortion. I took the time to explain the gestational age of the babies and what abortion methods were used to kill them. When we were finished she was horrified and said, “I had no idea! Abortion is evil!”. Then she told me about a pregnant friend of hers who was considering abortion so I gave her some brochures and information from the Center to share with her friend. Two weeks later she called to tell me that her friend decided not to abort. A baby’s life was saved.
Just last week someone told me she had seen a woman who was obviously neglecting her infant - the child appeared to be starving - “that baby should have been aborted”, she said. “Why not kill him now?” I replied, “Really, what’s the difference?”. Born or unborn, abortion is murder any way you look at it.
Some states have made abortion illegal after 20 - 24 weeks gestation - but that doesn’t mean late term abortions are not being done - babies continue to be killed throughout all stages of pregnancy. Abortion is infanticide. The state of Minnesota puts women on buses and sends them to Kansas to get late term abortions. Our taxes pay for the trip, lodging, and the abortion itself. This is an outrage!
At the county fair a stranger told me the story of her daughter’s hysterotomy. Hysterotomy is a legal late term abortion procedure, done in the last trimester of pregnancy - a Cesearean Section, performed in hospitals, that results in the death of the unborn child. Most babies are born alive with hysterotomy, and simply left to die in a surgical pan or linen closet. This woman’s daughter was 49 years old and following routine genetic testing it was confirmed that her baby suffered from a terminal birth defect and his chance of survival was poor. This is news that no expectant parent wants to hear. So her doctor convinced her that hysterotomy would be the merciful, compassionate thing to do for the child - “Why allow him to suffer after birth, he said. Just let him go now”. Hysterotomy is abortion. Abortion at any stage is infanticide.
Abortion is the un-choice. And abortion is no respecter of persons. Another woman told me about her abortion as a teenager. Church was a regular part of her family life in those days. When she found herself pregnant she feared the wrath and anger of her parents so she turned to someone she thought she could trust - someone from church. The woman from church was eager to help and although the teenager had chosen adoption for her unborn child, she was coerced into abortion. The Elliot Institute reports that 67% of women who chose abortion do so because they are being coerced, pressured, and threatened by parents, boyfriends, husbands, or friends. So the woman from church took care of everything for the teenage girl. She called Planned Parenthood, made the abortion appointment, and let the girl stay at her house for the night. In the morning, the trusted woman drew a nice warm bath for the girl. Then drove her to the clinic and dropped her off. A nurse led the girl by the hand to the “procedure” room, all the while telling her, “it’s not a baby, it’s not a baby." After the abortion the girl was take to another room full of small cots where other women who’d just had abortions were sobbing. The nurses did nothing to console them. So the teenage girl took her place among the crying women knowing that she had just killed her baby. And there was no going back. She didn’t realize that this was a forced abortion.
Women - I encourage you to mentor - and work to build trust relationships with the teenage girls you know. Because one day you may be the one person that a scared confused teenager might reach out to.
Abortion is genocide. In December of 1936 Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood wrote, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” Abortion is the leading cause of death among African Americans - more than 37% of them are aborted. Since Roe v. Wade, more than 53 million babies have lost their lives to abortion. -- At least 13.85 million of those babies were African American.
Roe v. Wade changed the legal definition of infanticide by stripping unborn children of their humanity and renaming them “products of conception”, “blobs of tissue”, “parasites”, and "blood clots".
I have seen Planned Parenthood’s “informed consent” video. In one or two short minutes they flash the shadow of a baby, 6 weeks after conception, and describe it as a “clump of cells” that has multiplied - as if it were some kind of tumor or cancerous growth. There is no mention of heart beat, facial features, limbs or organs. The child is not even acknowledged as a living thing.
Some people believe that First trimester abortion is a lesser evil. But there are no grades of evil. We live in the days when evil is called good - and good is called evil. The only evidence of life is growth. When you understand that, there is no denying that life begins at conception.
Monday, August 29, 2011
I'm currently reading a book called "Sexual Sabotage" by Dr. Juthith Reisman, a Catholic woman, who's done massive research on how the deviant, perverted, evil sexuality of Alfred C. Kinsey has influenced our culture since the late 1940's - early 1950's. This book tells the story of how America's chastity, abstinence, and love of marriage and family has been undermined in our cuture. Kinsey has normalized deviant sexuality, contraceptives, abortion, and pornography --- this is the ONLY "normal" our culture has known for 3 generations! Child pornography was born of Alfred Kinsey's work.
I highly recommend this book to all of you. It will change the way you see our culture - it's much much worse than we all realize. Kinsey has influenced our legal system, Roe v. Wade, the feminist movement, Planned Parenthood and abortion, pornography, and college, medical, and psyciatric textbooks and diagnostic manuals. Because of Kinsey's work The American Medical Association and The American Psychiatric Association have changed their definitions of abnormal sexuality - these are associations that decide what is "unhealthy" or "abnormal". Kinsey is pro-pedophile, pro-incest, pro-homosexuality, pro-rape, pro-bestiality, and pro-adultry/fornication, and pro-sado-masochism. Kinsey's research is based on the sexual abuse and torture of over 1,888 children between the ages of 1 month old and 15 years. He interviewed prostitutes and published their sexual behaviors as that of the average American wife and mother. He interviewed hundreds of prisoners jailed for pedophilia and the rape/torture/murder of innocent children, asking them to detail their crimes and published that as the typical behavior America's men and fathers. He discredited the WWII generation by accusing them of being "hypocritical" and hiding the "truth" of their sexual deviance from their children. This is how he won the Baby Boom Generation! He had great influence on the Viet Nam protests and "free love" movement of the 60's, and the legalization of contraceptives and abortion. Child pornography was born of Kinsey's "research" and "normalization" of pedophilia. Since America began acting out on Kinsey's false research, 25 new STDs have been created! Of course, one of them is AIDS. According to the American Psyciatric Association, homosexuality and bestiality is defined as "normal" unless it's disturbing the person who's doing it. There are pedophile organizations in the U.S. who are working, as we speak, to legalize pedophilia and protect pedophiles by classifying pedophilia as a "normal" sexual behavior - much in the same way homosexuals have accomplished this. Homosexuals are now a "protected" class in the U.S. -- this is what the pedophile's are trying to achieve -- protection under the law, which means that children will have no protection from them! We should be HORRIFIED!
Like a friend has said, "It's a cultural problem -- we need to change our culture" - We DO indeed need to change our culture. Change can be undone - It took us 60 years to get here, it may take another 60 years to undo it. But we have to start somewhere. Change happens one person at a time. We've got our work laid out for us.
Monday, June 6, 2011
The little Δ before the last verse of a song in The Lutheran Service Book is actually adiaphoric. It's an indication that it is appropriate to stand while singing that particular verse. Not necessary, but entirely appropriate. For me, it's second nature to stand when I see the symbol. It expresses an attitutde of reverence.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
While visiting out of state on one of those particular Sundays, the sermon included snippets about the mental health of Christians -- particularly that they should not need Prozac. "Should" statements can be damning and this one struck me as unsympathetic to the human plight of the Christian struggling with depression.
I can guarantee that there were Christians sitting in the pews on that day who struggle with depression on a daily basis, and probably some that take Prozac. Depression among Christians is controversial topic. I've heard both sides of the discussion. On one side you have Christians who categorize depression as a byproduct of sin alone with the merciless attitude that "if you are depressed then you're not in the Word enough, or in church enough, or praying enough, or busy enough". On the other side of the issue, there are Christians who have firsthand experience with depression and know how it affects people and their families -- and these people know that drugs like Prozac are helpful and a blessing.
Depression is no discriminator of persons. And it hits close to home for many of us. My mother is one of those who deny their own depression. And she suffers severely. She says, "all I need is Jesus". Well Jesus didn't keep her from locking herself in her bedroom for days at a time. And Jesus didn't keep her from the mental and physical abuse she forced on me from as early as I can remember. And at the age of ten, it forced me to be "the mother" to my four younger sisters -- my dad was on a ship half way around the world in the middle of the ocean. My mother's depression and mental illness robbed me of my childhood. In fact, as a child, we once knew a family in which the mother suffered tremendously to the point of hospitalization. My mother's response to that was "she's demon possessed". Well, I think we all know that demon possession is a far cry from mental illness. At least that woman was addressing her reality and doing something about it. Unfortunately, there's a negative social, and even religious stigma attached to depression. So where's the balance for a Christian who suffers from depression? And what is the Church's responsibility?
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders facing Americans today and Christians are not immune by proxy. In the world of mental health professionals depression is a medical "disorder" -- an "illness". It's not uncommon for the depressed person to hear comments like "just snap out of it", but depression isn't something that people can just "snap out" of. It's as much a physical condition as an emotional, mental one. Research shows that one in four American women and one in 10 men suffer from depression. The statistics on men reporting depression are probably under estimated because men are less likely to seek treatment for it. So how do we address depression in the Church? It's not really that tricky.
We live in a fallen world. And depression has a lot of root causes that can be hard to extract in therapy. But it is often a byproduct of physical illness. Chronic pain and life-threatening diseases like cancer or diabetes can certainly lead to depression. Sometimes depression is caused by the suffering from sins that have been committed against us. We live in a fallen world full of it -- sin. And yes, sometimes the natural consequence of depression arises from our own sin. Not a statement that Carl Rogers and other humanistic psycho theorists would believe in to be sure. But there is a remedy.
We may not have caused our depression, but we have to learn to live with it. And like any other affliction that torments the human condition depression is not any different. As long as we live in these sometimes seemingly cumbersome temporal bodies there will be pain and suffering. I never like to say "it isn't fair" because saying that disarms us and paralyzes us with an inability to function plummeting us into a deeper depression. And that can prevent us from seeking help.
I think it's important for us to remember that being a Christian does not automatically make one immune to the physical and mental illnesses that go along with having a temporal body living in a fallen world. We need to be a little more empathetic, merciful, compassionate, and loving toward our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering from depression.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Fifteen years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest child my OB Gyn ordered a prenatal screening test called Alpha Fetal Protein (AFP). My doctor said that AFP is a common blood test that is done about half way through a woman's pregnancy with a one week window of "opportunity" being exactly four and one-half months gestation. Because of my medical background and the fact that I was near forty years old, my pregnancy was classified as "high risk". I trusted my doctor and his judgement so without giving it another thought I was off to the lab for the test.
A couple of days later I received a phone call from my doctor personally, telling me that I should come in for a retest. There was a sense of urgency in his voice as he explained that the test was indicative of Down Syndrome. So I scheduled the retest for the next day and hung up the phone a bit shaken.
The next day my doctor called again to tell me that my second test had come back positive for Down Syndrome. His exact words were "there is a 95% chance that your baby has Down Syndrome". In the same breath he stated that he wanted my husband and I to visit a Genetic Specialist in Sioux Falls. He said that this specialist had a state-of-the-art ultrasound machine that would help determine whether or not our baby was "normal". So we scheduled the appointment, not really knowing what to expect.
The ultrasound was awesome! As I lay on the exam table in that specialists office I could see everything about my baby, including that he was a boy! But his gender didn't really matter at that moment because I was worried about his health. The doctor and his two assistants found Henry's little heart and I could see it beating. He said, "the heart looks healthy". Same deal with the lungs. Okay - that was a plus. Then the team of doctors continued on to measure the length of his thigh and upper arm bones. He said that babies with Down Syndrome have shorter bones. Then they measured the thickness of the skin on the back of Henry's neck. That was normal too. The doctor said that babies with Down Syndrome have thick skin on the backs of their necks.
When the exam was over we went into the consultation office.
The doctor asked if it were okay to include our information in a study they were doing on Down Syndrome in babies of older mothers. We said it was okay. Then the doctor went on to explain what the ultrasound exam revealed. He said, "There's never any certainty either way in examinations of babies with positive AFP tests, but it appears that everything is okay with your baby at this point." The next thing out of his mouth is what floored me. He said, "Do you want an abortion?" It felt like someone had jabbed a big knife right into my heart! I said, "NO - abortion is not an option for us."
We left that office feeling hopeless with broken hearts and cried all the way home. But we agreed that whatever the health of our unborn baby, he was a precious gift from God and we would love him no matter what.
In the weeks and months that followed I had uncontrollable bouts of crying mixed with fear of the unknown. We prayed ourselves to sleep at night, that God would give us the strength to face whatever lay ahead for our baby.
About a month later God gifted me with a peace and reassurance that no matter what lay ahead, we would be just fine. Henry was born normal. He was a chubby little 8 pound 12 ounce baby - perfect in every way. And the first words out of my doctors mouth at delivery was "he doesn't have Down Syndrome". Still, at that moment it didn't really matter because the love for this baby was bigger than all the fears we had had about his health.
The reason I'm writing this is because 80% of abortions performed after positive AFP tests end the lives of completely normal healthy babies. And it leaves mothers and families broken. Forever. Doctors must think they are doing families a "favor" by offering abortion to such prenatal screening tests. The truth is that prenatal genetic screening tests are completely unnecessary.
There are some who might argue that such tests enable delivery room staff to be prepared for unhealthy babies. That's not good enough. Prenatal screening hurts women and obviously causes the death of babies through abortion. Prenatal screening is not healthcare. Abortion is not healthcare.
When we believe that all life is a precious gift from God - that life becomes indisposable - not something we can just throw away because it's not perfect. We have no right to be "poking around" unborn babies with AFP or any other kind of prenatal tests in what is supposed to be the safest place in the world: their mothers womb. When we do this, we make ourselves greater than God, the giver and respecter of all life.
Read another woman's story about prenatal testing and Down Syndrome here.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Some weird trivia:
- The housefly hums in the middle octave, key of F
- The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher
- The longest word in the English language according to the Oxford English Dictionary is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis
- An ostrich's eye is bigger than it's brain
- A pregnant goldfish is called a twit
- A pound of potato chips costs 200 times more than a pound of potatoes
- Reindeer like to eat bananas
- Twelve or more cows are known as a "flink"
- A cockroach can live for up to a week without a head
- A typical bed usually houses over 6 billion dust mites (YUCK)
- Ants don't sleep
- A dentist invented the Electric Chair
- A sneeze can exceed the speed of 100 mph
- A pineapple is a berry
- Rain contains vitamin B12
- Peanuts are beans
- A moth has no stomach
- A shrimp's heart is in its head
- 25% of your bones are located in your feet
- 4.5 pounds of sunlight strike the Earth each day
"In the United States, there are about 115 Susan G. Komen Affiliates. Of these, at least 112 sponsor a Race for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. To date, at least 43 of these Susan G. Komen Affiliates have given grants to Planned Parenthood Centers or other abortion clinics, totaling more than 100 grants given across the nation Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics since 1998."
Read more about it at Life Issues.
Read Susan G. Komen Foundation's own press release dated March, 2011. In this press release they try to justify their support of Planned Parenthood, ignoring the fact that PP is one of the leading abortion providers in the country.
Corporate sponsors of the Susan G. Komen foundation are listed on their website.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Neutrois: "Not identifying with any particular gender." Apparently, neutrois is a gender in its own...
This from another blogger:
"In the beginning there was male and female. Soon there was homosexuality. Later there were lesbians, and much later gays, bisexuals,transgenders and queers. But anyone who thinks LGBTQ is the fullcount of contemporary sexualities is sadly out of date. For example, the transgendered have for some time been divided into those who are awaiting treatment, those have had hormone treatment, those who have had hormones and surgery, and those who have had hormones and surgery but are not happy and want it all reversed."
"Enter the Australian Human Rights Commission with someexciting new developments. In an extraordinary document entitled Protection From Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and sex and/or Gender Identity, the AHRC has come up with a further list of “genders” which they require us to recognize, and on whose behalf they want our federal government to pass anti-discrimination legislation. To date (by the time you read this,the AHRC's family of sexualities may have increased and multiplied) these are:transgender, trans, transsexual, intersex, androgynous, agender, cross dresser,drag king, drag queen, genderfluid, genderqueer, intergender, neutrois, pansexual, pan-gendered, third gender, third sex, sistergirl and brotherboy."
Sunday, March 20, 2011
My next thought was, "that's not really what Lent is about ... being good." Lent isn't even about giving up something bigger or better than the next person is giving up. It's easy to think that way, making it a battle of who's got the stronger will. But that's where a lot of people who observe the Lenten season by abstaining or refraining from anything end up.
Lent isn't a time for giving up sin. No matter how badly we might want to, we couldn't give up sin if our lives depended on it -- not even for Lent! Yet, we end up measuring our sin against the sin of others in an effort to justify our goodness before God. But when God measures sin - He holds it up against the Law -- and that changes everything because none of us can stand up sinless before the Ten Commandments. If you've broken even one of the Ten Commandments you're guilty of breaking them all.
There are three uses of the Law. The Law serves as a curb to restrain sin, a mirror to show us our sinful state and our need for Christ's redemption, and a guide to lead us to love, trust, and fear God to willingly keep His commandments. I like what this blogger says: the "law cannot make us willing." We are only willing when the Holy Spirit has worked faith in us to want to do the will of God. St. Paul in his letter to James says, "But someone will say you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18 (ESV)
Lent isn't a time for works, it's a time for thinking about the passion of Christ during His last days on Earth before His crucifixion through the day of His ascension. It's a time of self examination, reflection, and voluntary restraint in quiet repentance remembering what Christ has done for us.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Liturgical dance - it's all the rage! I've never seen this kind of dance -- except for what comes up on youtube searches. It certainly can be beautiful to watch. I'm not really surprised that some protestant evangelical and non-denom church bodies are incorporating this into their worship. Churches that use liturgical dance consider it a "ministry" and have broken it down into categories: processional, proclamation, prayer, prophetic, meditation, warfare, travail, and celebration.
In liturgical dancing, colors matter. Amber means glory, blue is for hope, black is death, brown - the earth, bronze is for judgement, burgundy is wine, gold is wealth, gray is ash, green is freedom, and so on ... there are too many colors to list here.
Indeed, the use and meaning of these colors have replaced the colors of the Church Year that we use in observation of the life and death of Christ. So why is this so appealing to Lutherans as useful in the Divine Service?
Okay readers, you know I'm going to pick this apart don't you?
Thomas Kane says, "By bridging the visible and the invisible world of the spirit, liturgical dance serves the worship of the church by drawing the community into the sacred mysteries, revealing new dimensions of the word, and witnessing to the beauty of God. ... Liturgical dance takes on forms that combine different traditions, such as modern dance, ballet, folk dance and yoga. ... Liturgical dance presupposes a prayer life and a faith commitment on the part of those involved." So here, Kane saying that liturgical dance is prayer and an expression of faith.
According to Kathleen Kline-Chesson, "Liturgical dance is an invitational art. It invites us to respond to God with our whole being; it helps us move beyond verbal expressions to a fuller experience and expression of our relationship with God. Liturgical dances are choreographed to bring life and form to the joys, visions and struggles of a searching heart. When the dances are danced with the sincerity and confidence and spiritual discernment that worship requires, the Christian message is
brought to life." Kline-Chesson believes, "For dance to become liturgical dance -- for it to call God into the midst of a celebration, for it to enliven and embody a particular scriptural message, and for it to help create and enrich a worshiping atmosphere -- it needs to be carefully crafted to fit the context of the entire liturgy, so people can respond ... Worship is an active not a passive experience, and one’s participation in the liturgy determines the outcome."
Simply stated, liturgical dance is just another form of novel entertainment used by churches where the Gospel in it's purest stand-alone form is not taught or preached.
And the Divine Service becomes just another service propagating the theology of glory. It all points back to the question: what is worship?
The problem starts with the belief that worship is an "active, not a passive experience" and that individual participation is necessary in order to create a meaningful "worshiping atmosphere."
This attitude is evident in all types of churches, including some Lutheran churches.
I've been to churches that in the name of individual participation employ front-and-center praise bands, orchestras, and women lectors. Big screen TVs with power point presentations replace the use of hymnals and the choir stands in the chancel facing the congregations, mics in hand. None of these things are really any different than liturgical dancing because they are all done for the same reason -- "participation in the service."
We pass this attitude along to our singing children when we line them up in front of the church to be seen and "shown off" to their parents and grandparents. So why does anyone feel they need to participate in the Divine Worship service for it to be meaningful? There are all sorts of answers to this question, a common one being "I just want to serve." But I'm fairly certain that it always comes down to the visibility a person receives in doing such things. And the motivation for this is only self-gratification.
he rhythm of worship in Divine Service is this: God gives to us in confession and absolution, hearing of the Gospel (the preached Word), Communion, Baptism and the remembrance of our Baptism. Through the Gospel and the Sacraments we receive God's gifts passively in the understanding that Worship is something God does, not something we do for God in an attempt to please Him. And then we return thanks and praise in the form of prayer and singing our thanks in the Liturgy and other songs from the hymnal. Liturgical dance has been used as a sacrament to deliver the Gospel. It really isn't much different than speaking in tongues.
Liturgical dance is being used as a type of invocation to "call God into the midst of a celebration" and as an expression of faith." Liturgical dance does not sync with the Liturgy, it replaces it completely and it points us to our own feelings as an indication of faith.
Particularly distressing is the idea that liturgical dance is intended to minister to the "joys, visions and struggles of a searching heart." Liturgical dance is considered a "ministry" by making anyone a minister and completely disregarding the ordination of men into Office of The Holy Ministry as God has established it. By allowing anyone to become "minister" liturgical dance violates the Divine order of creation by placing women in positions of spiritual responsibility and care over men. If liturgical dance is a tool to minister to the struggles of a searching heart then where does that leave the Sacraments? It completely replaces them and once again points us toward ourselves for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that the Sacraments offer.
Clearly, liturgical dance brings false teaching into the church. It replaces the Sacraments, undermines the Gospel, makes everyone a "minister," and removes observation of the Church year, which is all and only about Jesus Christ.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
So what makes an American, or anyone else for that matter, an idol? Who's the one that decides exactly who the idols are? The judges? The voters? The media? What ever else it is that makes anyone an idol, America is certainly full of them (idols). American culture reveres those dubbed 'celebrity' by whatever means. But the word 'idol' is not reserved only for human beings who have achieved fame. An idol can be anything and everyone has one.
What's your idol? Perhaps it's money, or cars and houses, or job status. Maybe it's a smaller, benign thing like the latest must-have fashion. How about a habit, or secret addiction that no one else but you can see? How about sex? Never thought of sex as an idol? The sexual 'freedom' movement of the '60's changed everything. The legalizatoin of birth control pills resulted in a 'worry-free' cultural attitude that 'sex is for anyone and everyone', no commitment needed. But even that has changed! Since the '60's sexual activity has become as non-personal as going to the movies.
Today, there are no boundaries. During what used to be considered 'family TV time', prime time sit-coms present all sorts of sexual behaviors as 'normal' and 'good'. Sex is a recreational thing, just for 'fun'. America's children are being desensitized to abstinence and chastity -- being a virgin is something to be ashamed of; it means "you're a geek". In 2010, 'friends with benefits' is 'good' and 'normal'. "Awe, come on mom, everyone's doing it" -- "it's everyone's personal right"! Infact, some moms will agree with that. How did we get here?
Ask almost anyone on the street. Today, sex is not a moral issue. The idea of recreational sex, cohabitation, and pregnancy outside of marriage is the 'norm'. And it doesn't matter in which order you do it. Anyone who objects is 'a bigot', 'judemental', 'intolerant', a 'goody-two-shoes'.
Sex is presented to preschool children, highschoolers, and college students as a basic human right -- and anything goes.
Organizations like Planned Parenthood (PP) are taking it straight to the classroom (your children): kindergarten through college. According to PP, anything goes; it doesn't matter what kind of sex you like -- PP is encouraging children to try anything and everything they might be 'curious' about. Courtesy of PP, even the Girl Scouts of America gets a private, graphic no-parents-allowed session on sex. And their brand of recreational sex means that nothing is off limits, afterall, it's just for 'fun' right?
Just turn your TV on -- birth control is widely promoted and acceptable for anyone of any age. Then, if and when pills, patches, and vaginal rings fail -- there's always abortion or the morning after pill. "So what?" you may be thinking, 'These things are good and necessary in order to keep everyone's entitled right to sexual freedom". Really?
It's America's unborn children vs. dogs. Cruetly to animals is against the law. There are stiff penalties for torturing animals. Anyone caught poisoning or dismembering a dog is in danger of some serious legal consequences. But when recreational sex results in unexpected pregnancy it's perfectly legal to find a doctor to chop up and scrape your baby out of your womb. Yes, in America it's a woman's legal "right" to have her baby's head cut off and crushed to pieces so she can continue having nonconsequential recreational sex. Did you know that unborn babies feel pain when they are only 6 weeks (8 weeks by medical calculation) in the womb? It's true. Yes, it's against the law to fill a burlap bag with puppies and drop it in a river. But it's completely legal to pay someone to inject salt water into your womb with the sole purpose of frying the person living in there. Babies are being burned alive from the inside out by saline solution injections. Indeed, abortion is now an acceptable form of birth control.
Humankind is suffering from hardened hearts. How long are we going to let this continue? How long before we are able to recognize that abortion isn't really any different than slavery? Like slaves, unborn children are considered 'property', not persons. We must find a way to reverse and undo Roe v. Wade and it has to come from our Grass Roots. YOU can make a difference. Things change one person at a time. Get involved with your local pregnancy help center. You can make a difference by volunteering, donating, and praying for those who work to share the Life message with pregnant women.
For many years we have been at war with Satan and his helper, Planned Parenthood. And since Roe v. Wade, 1973; more than 50,000,000 unborn children have been sacrificed to the god of recreational sex. That is more deaths than the combined total of America's Civil War, World War I & II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. For every three babies concieved, one is aborted while there thousands upon thousands of couples longing and crying to adopt them.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Yesterday we observed Pentecost, the day we celebrate as the birthday of the Church, the body of true believers and the Bride of Christ. As described in Acts 2:1-3, it was quite a day! The twelve apostles “… were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them.” What a day! Wouldn’t you have loved to be there on that day! Better yet, wouldn’t you have loved to be one of those with the tongue of fire on your head! Just imagine the excitement they must have felt! Don’t you feel the excitment just reading about it?! I do.
Something my husband said in his sermon yesterday reminded me once again of where I came from and how I got here. He was talking about the wind and the tongues of fire and then he asked, “What are we missing?” When it comes to the Holy Spirit today – what are we missing? His answer – - ”nothing but the wind and the flames.” Huh? What do we expect to happen when we receive the Holy Spirit? I suppose the first question would be “how do we receive the Holy Spirit?”
Different denominations teach different things about this. This question is a source of great controversy among Christians.
I know someone who belongs to a church that calls themselves “non-denominational”. This church teaches that the Holy Spirit comes to a person at the moment they begin speaking in tongues (languages known only to God). They do not believe that the Holy Spirit is given to all who ‘decide’ to follow Christ. I know that Pentecostals believe something very similar to that. This belief can be traced back to the first Pentecost. But the Holy Spirit was around long before Pentecost and he revealed himself in other ways prior to that day. So why would God withold his Holy Spirit from some who believe and not others?
I should point out that when the Apostles spoke in other tongues at Pentecost, they spoke in other earthly languages. The languages (tongues) spoke in Pentecostal-type churches are unknown ‘languages’ that according to Scripture (I Corinthians 14:2), should not be done in worship. While you’re in I Corinthians, feel free to read that entire chapter. How appropriate that it follows what is written in Chapter 13.
Evangelical protestant Christians believe the Holy Spirit comes to them the moment they pray what they call the “sinner’s prayer”. But they have to be sincere about it once they’ve made the ‘decision’ to do so. So salvation and receiving the Holy Spirit requires that a person rightly and perfectly exercise their will. So what becomes of those who are like the soldier who said, “… I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)? Not possible, for there is always some degree of unbelief in the human heart.
What do Lutherans believe? We know that we receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism and through the Gospel, the preaching of the Word.
So why the conflicting beliefs? God never changes, that’s probably one thing we all agree on. So how do we receive the Holy Spirit?
First, what do we know about the Holy Spirit? We know that He is part of the Trinity – - the Triune God. We know that Christ and the Holy Spirit are present with God throughout the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. In Genesis we read of the Triune God before the world was ever created (Gen. 1:26). And in Revelation we read of the Triune God at the end of days (Rev. 22:16-18). Jesus tells us of the Triune God in John 10:30 and John 14:6 - 9 and Matthew 28:19. The Holy Spirit was with John the Baptizer while he was an infant in the womb (Luke 1:44). The Holy Spirit is revealed to us in Christ’s conception (Matthew 1:18), in His Baptism (Matthew 3:16), in His tempation (Matthew 4:1). So we see that the Holy Spirit was with Christ throughout His life on earth. So how do we know when and how we receive the Holy Spirit and salvation? We know the Holy Spirit serves to convict us of our sin. We know that He is also called The Comforter. Which comes first? What is the evidence? Shouldn’t there be some physical sign and shouldn’t we feel something when we receive the Holy Spirit?
That’s exactly what Baptism is when it is done in the name of the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Whether you believe it or not, that is exactly what Baptism is. Jesus instituted Baptism for us as a means of grace, a way to distribute the salvation from sin, death, and the devil, that he won for us when he died on the Cross.
In Mark 1:8 John says, “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” When Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit decended on him from heaven in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:9). So why then, do we expect our Baptism to work anything less than the Baptism of Christ, the Baptism he institued for us? Is that too much to believe? As I said earlier, there is always some degree of unbelief in the human heart. No one is capable of perfect faith all the time. Another example of human logic and reason diverting us from the pure and simple work of God. Why must we continue to make ourselves greater than God by refusing to believe his promises to us? Why do we put more trust and faith in our own understanding of what Christ said rather than take him at his plain and simple Word?
Jesus didn’t need forgiveness of sins; he was without sin. So why did he want John’s Baptism of repentance? For us. He wanted it for us. In his own baptism, Christ made himself present in Baptism – for us. By commanding that we “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19) he took a baptism of repentance and transformed it into a means of grace by attaching his promise to it.
Both of the Sacraments we observe in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Baptism and Communion, were given to us by Christ, for us, for the forgiveness of sins and for life and salvation.
And so I ask you: If these two Sacraments are only symbolic and if God works nothing in them, why did Christ establish them? And why did he Command us to continue observing them until he comes again? If Baptism is only symbolic and works nothing, why is it done in the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? Insisting that Baptism works nothing and is only symbolic amounts to profaning the name of Christ, doesn’t it… ?
We do not receive the Holy Spirit in flames of fire dancing on our heads, or speaking in languages known only to God. This is why Jesus left us with Holy Baptism, Holy Communion, and the Scriptures.
And of course, in adults who have heard the preached Word of the Gospel prior to baptism, this is when they receive the Holy Spirit which works faith in their hearts. So baptism is the next step.
Further, we cannot rely on any feelings of the corrupt human heart for certainty of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ. Surely, our hearts, minds, and souls are corrupted by sin from the moment of conception. But we can rely on God’s promises which he has attached to the common earthly element of water, when combined with the Word, established by Christ for us.
Interestingly, I am actually finishing up this post on May 31st, the date of my own baptism in 1970 when I was eleven years old. And so I celebrate this day.