Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Monday, March 29, 2010


So what is going to happen with all this talk at MtCow, anyway? Was it just a exercise in exchanging ideas so that we could check something off our lists? Some of us - including everyone at the Northern Illinois District (NID) table - became concerned that little fruit would actually be born from the conference. Indeed, one of our frustrations was that much time was spent on generalizations about which the vast majority of us agree, while avoiding the real divisive issues of "wine, women, and song", sacramental piety, and the Office of the Holy Ministry. These concerns began to surface after Vogel's address and grew louder as the conference continued.

Coincidentally, as I am at this point in my reflections on the conference, I am pleased to report that, at least here in the NID, we will be going forward with the process in a way that should be more helpful to those of us who desire greater synodical uniformity. After the last Board of Director's meeting, District President Gilbert told me that the district pastors' conference next winter would be a district replication of MtCow. This, of course, is what is intended to happen in all the districts in some shape or form. What encourages me, though, is what our bishop said: "And we will do it right. We are going to deal with specifics."

This follows in the wisdom of Norman Nagel, who famously said, "When discussing worship practice, it is important to be specific."

We can talk about adiaphora and the Gospel and the Means of Grace all day and never get to the real issues that divide us. It's time we start talking about the elephant in the room. Bring it on! :)

And maybe, we'll have a synodical president who understands that It's Time to talk about a lot of other things as well!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Recently a visitor to Bethany-Naperville commented positively on the choir, noting that "their singing had life to it."

Their song indeed has life. It is a privilege for me to conduct Proclaim (the adult choir at Bethany). They have hearts for the Lord, and a desire to use their musicianship to magnify His Word. Accordingly, they work with me on polishing sound and developing their instrumnets in a way that many church choirs would resist.

So often church choir members consider their service only to be their personal sacrifice of praise. At best, they then see their sacrifice as an offering on behalf of the assembly. I call that "vertical worship". It's just them & Jesus - and we get to watch. By God's grace, though, I am blessed to be at a place where the choir is devoted to the Lord's ministry, and so they understand their service to be not only their sacrifices of thankfulness and priase, but also a participation in the proclamation of His Word (hence the name). I call this "cruciform worship", because it is horizontal as well as vertical. The choir sings to God and to the assembly, sharing the gifts they receive from Him.

This makes all the difference on so many levels.