Rick at Light from Light blog has a good article, titled "The Divine Service and Begging."

He quotes from Dr John Kleinig in Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today:

Because our spiritual life and health depends on receiving from Christ, we exercise our faith by becoming beggars before God. And that’s not easy for us who fancy that we are producers of spiritual goods and owners of spiritual gifts. The place to begin learning to receive is our regular involvement in the Divine Service. The classical order for the Service of Word and Sacrament puts us and keeps us in the position of beggars before God. It invites us to join the company of holy beggars in four important places.

Read the rest.

Pr Larry Peters on the rubrics in the liturgy:

Rubrics. A rubric is a word or section of text which is written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The term derives from the rubrica, meaning red ochre or red chalk, and originates in Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the 13th century or earlier. Rubrics are authoritative rules of conduct or procedure or glosses in the text (explanations or definitions of an obscure word in a text) or directions for the conduct of Christian church services (often printed in red in a prayer book).

If you look through the hymnal or missal, you find these red notes all over the place. They tell us such things as when to sit or stand or kneel... when to make the sign of the cross... when to sing a hymn... They tell the Pastor when to face the people and when to face the altar, among many other things. They direct the usages or practices of the Church (colors of the season, directions for preparing the elements for the Sacraments, and even what to do with what remains of the Eucharist (the reliquae). And I could go on and on...

Brother Weedon has been publishing some of the rubrics from Lutheran Service Book in his wonderful blog. I have been reading them and even posted a comment there. The whole thing reminded me that too often the Pastors and people only read the stuff in black and too often forget or even ignore what is printed in red. It is printed in red to get our attention. As so many have noted, we are to do the red and say the black. It is hardly complicated but, unfortunately for our Church, it is a simple thing too often overlooked at the expense of faithful doctrine and practice.

I venture to say that you have not read the book if you have not read the rubrics. If you do not know the rubrics, you do not know the liturgy. They go hand in hand -- the words which we say and the directions that tell us how and what to do. They are not incidental because our practice is formed by our faith and our practice reflects what it is we truly believe. So, for example, if our practice is sloppy or slovenly, then we are in essence telling people that what we are doing is not important. Lord knows that there are already too many messages about the stuff of worship telling our people that this stuff is not important. Pastors do not need to [be] encouraging them or adding to these hints that how we do things is of little consequence.

The sad truth is that we did not pay much attention to the rubrics back when the hymnal was dated 1941 and the directions were in black italic and we do not pay much more attention to them today, even with the nice, deep red color to draw our attention to them. It is to our poverty that we ignore the red. Those who ignore the red seem prone to rewording the black.

We have a perfectly good way to introduce the lessons but so often the person reading (lay or ordained) seems determined to make up something new. One of the worst habits formed from ignoring the red is the idea that we should greet the people with a hearty good morning before we plow into the Word of God. It makes me wonder what goes through our heads sometimes. Reading the lessons means reading the Word of God so that the attention is on the Word and not the reader -- so why draw attention to who you are by hollaring out a "Goober says hey" before the reading? Better to borrow from the Orthodox if we must ad lib: "Wisdom! Attend!" But the easiest thing of all would simply be to pay attention to the rubrics.

The rubrics are put there not because some anal retentive type insists upon uniformity -- some German attribute of lock step precision drilling. They were put there because it is not enough to care about doctrine in the abstract. We care about it in the specific and concrete of the liturgy -- what we do and how we do it. Some folks think I am terribly persnickety. Really I am not. I know some folks who really get into the nitty gritty of rubrical conformity and precision. I am not one of them. But I care about what we do and how we do it -- I care because it reflects upon the Word and Sacraments of God. We hold that good practice is an extension of faithful doctrine. It is really that simple.

It is not that the rubric police will show up and cart you off if you ignore the red while making up your own black. It is not that heaven will fall to the ground and the work of God's kingdom will crash to a halt because you skipped a liturgical direction printed in red. It is not that the means of grace will be rendered impotent because you forgot a bow or turned the wrong way. Nobody is saying this. I am not saying this. But if what we are doing as representatives (ikons) of the Lord is important, if we believe that God actually works through His Word and Sacraments, then a little care about how we do what we do and what we do is not only good, it is salutary and beneficial. And, believe you me, people notice.

People learn through seeing how we do what we do as well as what we do. I once watched a waitress pick up a knife off the floor, wipe it on her apron, and place it back on the table. Now I am a firm practitioner of the five second rule when it comes to things dropped. But it is a little unseemly when you catch somebody practicing the home rule in public. So Pastors remember that you are not at home, you are in public. People are watching. Read those lines printed in red. See what they say and try to follow them. Read them often enough so that you know them as well as you know to say "In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit." The better you know them, the easier they are to follow. These things printed in red are really pretty good stuff. They actually make sense the more you do them. So give it a shot, won't you?!

Pr Larry Beane at Gottesdienst Online has a good article on the worship "wars":

I believe one of the reasons we have "worship wars" among American Christians is that it has been a long time since we have had physical warfare on our own soil. 9-11 was close, but even that was dominated not by the theology of the cross of Christ, but rather by a sense of the national therapy of Oprah.  

Consider this poignant picture above of the ruins of a bombed-out church in Germany, where amid all the chances and changes of this life, the one thing that people could hold onto is the liturgy of the Church, the Mass, the real physical communion with the real physical Lord.

Notice what you don't see: entertainment. There is no gyrating chanteuse working the microphone like a Vegas performer, a spotlight shining on a grimacing drummer, a perfectly-coifed guitarist wearing the latest fashions, or a trendy prancing made-up motivational speaker with gelled-up hair and a plastic smile emoting in overly-dramatic hushed intonations.

Instead, we see a celebrant, deacon, subdeacon, and two servers, all reverently and historically vested, each stationed in his proper order, proclaiming by their very placement that no matter how unpredictable and desperate things may get in this war-torn existence, Jesus is here, week in and week out, in the midst of our pain and uncertainty. And the Church is here, century in and century out, bearing the Good News by proclaiming Christ crucified, the eternal Word of the cross. And even amid the rubble and missing walls and blown-out windows, the old stone edifice of the church building, even in its humiliated state, carries a reverent gravitas of which the latest and greatest multi-million-dollar "worship centers" are bereft.

And at the center of it all is the chancel. There is no stage, big screens, lasers, or sound system paraphernalia, but rather a simple but elegant book containing the liturgy and the Word of God, dignified candles flickering with the soft glow of the flames reminiscent of the Day of Pentecost and silently confessing the Son as "light of light, very God of very God." And of course, the Holy of Holies is the stone altar, anchored like the rock of St. Peter's confession amid the gravel of a desperate world, the marble slab upon which one finds the Cornerstone, the Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, the mystery of the Lord's Presence for the forgiveness of sins given by means of the simple creatures of bread and wine.

By contrast, "contemporary worship" is a sad and spiritually impoverished display of vulgar bourgeois suburban kitsch, a puerile frivolity that is more at home in a sterile strip mall or a vacuous night club than in the gritty real world inhabited by real people who suffer real pain and who need a real saving encounter with the real God. (emphasis added)

That is why we need real worship.

Pr. Brian Kachelmeier of Redeemer Lutheran, Los Alamos, New Mexico, discusses Contemporary Worship in the Old Testament with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:30, 10.6 MB, 2010-Dec-15)

Contemporary Worship in the Old Testament Scriptures by Pr Brian Kachelmeier (pdf, 22 pgs, 391 KB)



Dr. John Oberdeck, Concordia University, Wisconsin, and author of "Eutychus Youth: Applied Theology for Youth Ministry in the 21st Century", discusses Eutychus and Youth Ministry with Pr. Todd Wilken

Part 1:

Part 1: The Need for Theology (mp3, 28:27, 11.4 MB, 2010-Dec-06)

Part 2:

Part 2: A Theological Framework for Youth Ministry (mp3, 32:08, 12.9 MB, 2010-Dec-13)

Part 3:

Part 3: Observing the Youth in the Church (mp3, 26:29, 10.6 MB, 2010-Dec-20)


Will the host of the radio program Issues Etc again defeat the Iron Preacher? Pr. Todd Wilken challenges Pastor Wolfmueller in a match of Iron Preacher, judged by Dr. Carl Fickenscher of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Then Pastor Wilken will spend the rest of the time talking about the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. (mp3, 16.4 MB, 47m57s, 2010-Nov-23)

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, Colo., and co-host of the program,Table Talk Radio, discusses The Christian View of the Conscience with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 26:30, 10.6 MB, 2010-Nov-22)

See also Pr. Wolfmueller's article on Conscience Training (pdf, 3 pgs, 51 KB)


Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller, pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, Colo., and co-host of the program,Table Talk Radio, discusses The Importance of the External Word with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 33:40, 13.5 MB, 2010-Nov-17)

See also Pr. Wolfmueller's article on Lutheran Exceptionalism (pdf, 6 pgs, 74 KB)


Pr. Heath Curtis, Trinity Lutheran, Worden, Ill., and Zion Lutheran, Carpenter, Ill., discusses Lay "Ministers" with Pr. Todd Wilken (mp3, 54:59, 22 MB, 2010-Oct-27)

For further study:

“The Office of the Holy Ministry” by the Departments of Systematic Theology, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Ill., and Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., in Concordia Journal (pdf, 15 pgs, 4.2 MB, 2007-July)

A Study Document Regarding Preaching and Administration of the Sacraments by Men Who Have Not Been Publicly Called to and Placed in the Office of the Ministry” by Pastors Heath Curtis and William Weedon (pdf, 3 pgs, 126 KB)


Pr. Todd Wilken reviews a Reformation sermon by Pr. Bill Cwirla (mp3, 28:28, 11.4 MB, 2010-Oct-27)


Pr Todd Wilken discusses aspects of the Reformation during Reformation Week:

  1. Part 1: Sin & Grace – The Doctrine of Justification, Dr. Carl Fickenscher, Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind. (mp3, 54:26, 21.8 MB, 2010-Oct-18)

  2. Part 2: The Presence of God – The Means of Grace, Pastor Paul McCain, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo. (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Oct-19)

  3. Part 3: The Hiddenness of God – The Theology of the Cross, Dr. Scott Murray, Memorial Lutheran, Houston, Tex. (mp3, 54:59, 22 MB, 2010-Oct-20)

  4. Part 4: The Spirituality of Everyday Life – Vocation & The Two Kingdoms – The Sacred and the Secular, Dr. Steven Hein, Concordia Institute for Christian Studies (mp3, 54:29, 21.8 MB, 2010-Oct-21)

  5. Part 5: Worship, Pastor William Weedon, St. Paul Lutheran, Hamel, Ill. (mp3, 54:59, 22 MB, 2010-Oct-22)

(mp3, 34.3 MB, 49m57s)

Printable (, 21 pages, 107 KB)

Courtesy: New Reformation Press

(mp3, 37.3 MB, 1h48m51s) Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller and Seminarian Evan Goeglein put seven praise songs through the Praise Song Cruncher (, 1 page, 59 KB):

  1. Resurrection – Nicole Sponberg
  2. Hands of the Healer written by John Waller
  3. Let It Rise – Holland Davis
  4. Lord, I Lift Your Name on High – Lincoln Brewster
  5. We The Redeemed – Hillsong
  6. More Like Falling in Love – Jason Gray
  7. God of this City – Chris Tomlin

Pr. Todd Wilken's pick for blog (post) of the week

(mp3): http://www.confessionalsbytes.com/2010/09/all-things-to-all-people.html



1 Corinthians 9:22 has to be one of the most abused Scriptures today. Typically, it is abused by those who promote "Contemporary Worship (CW)" forms and Church Growth principles. When asking  proponents of CW why we must change the traditional liturgy, 1 Corinthians 9:22 is cited in support of their contention that the church must be permeable to the culture around us, i.e. we must become "all things to all people." I'll be honest and confess that when I hear somebody misuse this Scripture like that my nerves are grated upon. I wonder, "Do these people read?" The context of 1 Corinthians 9:22 is about Paul not abusing his Christian freedom and going so far as giving up his rights (see verse twelve) for the sake of the Gospel which he proclaimed as an Apostle. Paul is clearly addressing the "weak" (perhaps Judaizers?) at the Corinthian church as well as those who were invoking their Christian liberty to eat meat sacrificed to idols. According to chapter ten verse twenty three Paul is certainly writing to correct those holding the erroneous view that they can do anything they want, since "All things are lawful" to them as Christians. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul wrote that not all things are "helpful" or "build up" (1 Corinthians 10:23).

To illustrate the above point further, during the time of Paul, Corinth was the capital of the Roman province Acacia. Even-though the city was already quite old by Paul's time, it was still a bustling city which boasted of temples to Aphrodite, Poseidon, Apollo, Hermes, Venus, Isis, and Demeter, to name a few of the "gods" worshipped in this pagan Roman city. The reputation of Corinth's licentiousness was infamous even for the pagan world of the time and enough so for it to become the byword for "evil living" in the Greek language, korinthiazesthai. When Paul wrote, "I have become all things to all people" he surely did not mean to say that he, himself, had been "Corinthianized" in order to proclaim the Gospel. In other words, Paul didn't go "undercover" so that he could "save some." We know this to be true from the following,

"19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he (1 Corinthians 10:19-22)?"

The above Scriptures takes apart any pragmatic ideas that the ends justify a practice, as some would interpret 1 Corinthians 9:22 to mean.. Paul did not participate at the table of pagan rituals in the name of "reaching the unchurched" and he strongly condemns such participation as partaking with demons, something he demonstrates isn't neutral, or free, to the Christian to do when he asks the rhetorical questions, "Shall we provoke the Lord to jealously?" and "Are we stronger than he?" The obvious response should be, "no!" It is evident that Paul did not mean with "I have become all things to all people" that he had given up any of the traditions and truths he learned from Christ and the other Apostles in order to "win some to Christ." In sum, 1 Corinthians 9:22 is taken out of its proper context when used in defense of overturning the liturgy in order to introduce new worship forms.


Lutheran Worship: Why We Do What We Do

Pr. Chad L. Bird (St. Paul, Wellston, OK)
Texas Confessional Lutherans Free Conference
5 August 2000
(printable pdf, 18 pages, 210 KB)

I. Introduction: Hymnody and Orthodoxy

A confessional church is a singing church. As she sings, she makes her good confession, a confession both in word and music. As the sainted Martin Franzmann (1907–1976) once said, “Theology is doxology. Theology must sing.”(1) Theology cannot remain mute words safely bedded down between the covers of a book; it must leap off the printed page, exit the mouth, and fill the air with holy sound. Theology must be given a voice. The lips, not the pen, are the best instruments of theological expression. Although doctrinal books, commentaries, journals, and essays serve well as mediums of confession, they all play second fiddle to that which is articulated in the liturgy. The dogmatics of Francis Pieper must salute the hymns of Paul Gerhardt.

Read Dr. Alvin Barry's paper, Lutheran Worship: 2000 and Beyond - Seven Theses on Lutheran Worship, which he presented to the Real Life Worship conference on February 6, 1998, in the greater Denver area. (printable pdf, 8 pages, 151 KB)

Read Dr. Kurt Marquart's "Liturgical Commonplaces" (pdf, 18 pgs, 915 KB) in the October 1978 issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly, published by Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind.


The notion of "worship" in popular Protestantism does not seem to suggest anything so formal as a church service. It is more likely to be associated with rousing choruses of "How Great Thou Art," either at a Billy Graham rally or in a rugged setting out of doors, preferably round a campfire, holding hands. Mawkish gimmickry of various kinds is marketed as making for "effective" worship. Church services themselves, however, are seen as rather drab and dreary on the whole. …

If the Means of Grace were mechanically interchangeable, rather than organically ordered, it would make sense to say: "Today we have Baptism and, therefore, we do not need Communion." Such an argument, however, is quite impossible. It should be equally impossible to argue: "As long as we have preaching regularly, and the Lord's Supper occasionally, the Means of Grace are in action, and all the rest is adiaphora." What must be seen is that in the Lutheran Confessions as in the New Testament the Eucharist is not an occasional extra, an exceptional additive for especially pious occasions, but a regular, central and constitutive feature of Christian worship. Preaching and the Sacrament belong together not anyhow, or helter-skelter, by statistical coincidence, but as mutually corresponding elements within one integrated whole.

Of the practice in apostolic and sub-apostolic times Oscar Cullmann has written in his book, Early Christian Worship, as follows:

The Lord's Supper is thus the basis and goal of every gathering. This corresponds to all that we have already determined about the place and time and basic character of the primitive Christian gathering. … Accordingly, it is not as though early Christianity had known three kinds of service, as we are in the habit of imagining, following the modern example: service of the Word and, alongside of it, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. It is rather so: in the early Church there are only these two celebrations or services—the common meal, within the framework of which proclamation of the Word has always a place, and Baptism ... The Lord's Supper is the natural climax towards which the service thus understood moves and without which it is unthinkable, since here Christ unites himself with his community as crucified and risen and makes it in this way one with himself, actually builds it up as his body (1 Cor. 10:17).

Dr. Arthur JustConcordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., presented his paper, "Confident Liturgy: Presiding with Hospitality and Grace" to The Good Shepherd Institute in Nov. 2008. (pdf, 20 pgs, 459 KB; printable pdf, 11 pgs, 141 KB)

A Modest Proposal Regarding the Common Service

(Click above link for full article)


PROPOSED: That every English-speaking Evangelical Lutheran parish in North America would be well-served both for its own well-being and for the greater strength of all of North American Lutheranism to retain or gain familiarity and ease with the Common Service and keep it "in the rotation" if other settings are used.