The Quarterly Newsletter of Wittenberg Academy
The Ninety-Sixth Thesis
Chaplain's Corner- p. 8
Sermon for the Seventh
Sunday after Trinity
Rev. David M. Juhl
History as the Adornment of Humanity
On the Road with Wittenberg Academy- p. 19
Poetry- p. 20
A Point of Confession- p. 21
Michaelmas Term Courses- Pg. 22
From Our Teachers p. 10-17
~Is Change Good?
~Music: Next to Theology
~ Liturgical Cruncher
~ The Adornment of Vestments
Lutherans make great historians because they are very good at asking “What does this mean?”
Let us look briefly at three events in history and ask what does this mean about each of them.
The first event for our historical memory is the Fall of the Roman Empire. We all know from Blood, Sweat, and Tears (or Isaac Newton) that what goes up must go down. So, if the Roman Empire fell, it must have risen. Rome was a Republic before it was an Empire. The Republic, if you remember from our quiz, was founded in 509 BC and lasted until Caesar Augustus assumed power in 27 BC. The Western Roman Empire then lasted until 476 A.D. We shall not include in our discussion today the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. What made Rome great and what caused her demise? Different scholars will give you different answers, but we can look to the following as reasons why the Roman Empire grew:
There was an emphasis on the family, specifically the patriarchy. The State largely existed to serve the Family. Unlike the Greeks, who venerated youth and strength, the Romans venerated age and “wisdom, experience, determination, and responsibility” (Esolen, 2008). Not surprisingly, then, the Romans also upheld tradition and resisted change. When they conquered a people, they passed these traditions on to the conquered peoples and made them Romans; enculturation passed on “the Roman way.”
Now, lest we venerate the Romans unduly, let us consider how the abandonment of these ideals led to the decline and fall of the Empire. Jerome Carcopino says in Daily Life in Ancient Rome, “Whether because of voluntary birth control, or because of impoverishment of the stock, many Roman marriages at the end of the first and the beginning of the second century were childless.” He continues further, “The feminism which triumphed in imperial times brought more in its train than advantage and superiority. By copying men too closely the Roman woman succeeded more rapidly in emulating man’s vices than in acquiring his strength…” The women were donning helmets and abandoning the bearing and caring of children. Carcopino says, “How far removed from the inspiring picture of the Roman family in the heroic days of the republic! The unassailable rock has cracked and crumbled away on every side. Then, the woman was strictly subjected to the authority of her lord and master; now, she is his equal, his rival, if not his imperatrix. Then, husband and wife had all things in common; now, their property is almost entirely separate. Then, she took pride in her own fertility; now, she fears it. Then, she was faithful; now, she is capricious and depraved. Divorces then were rare; now they follow so close on each other's heels that, as Martial says, marriage has become merely a form of legalised adultery.” "She who marries so often does not marry; she is an adultress by form of law.”
Rome didn’t fall in a day. It was a slow decline and a slow rejection of the things that made them great. The breakdown of the family and the elevation of the individual over the family led to a rejection of the Roman ideal. Though the Roman Empire continued forth in the East as the Byzantine Empire, it too succumbed to the rejection of the Roman ideal and eventually fell in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks. So, for better or for worse, Rome fell and time marched on, but not without lasting influence on history forevermore: a long tradition of citizen government, even during the rule of emperors, a military ideal, the spread of Latin and Greek learning, and the spread of Christianity.
If we fast forward a few years, skipping all sorts of extremely vital history, we get to the French Revolution. What do we know about the French Revolution? The French Revolution began with the meeting of the legislative assembly (the States General) in May 1789 when the French government was already in crisis; the Bastille was stormed in July of the same year. The revolution became steadily more radical and ruthless with power increasingly in the hands of the Jacobins and Robespierre; Louis XVI's execution in January 1793 was followed by Robespierre's Reign of Terror. The revolution failed to produce a stable form of republican government, and after several different forms of administration, the last, the Directory, was overthrown by Napoleon in 1799.
How did we get there? Prior to the French Revolution was the Thirty Years’ War and the English civil war. Prior to that was this little event in 1517 that got people to thinking about a lot of different things. But, the Thirty Years’ War lasted from 1618-1648. I am not going to go into a lot of detail there, but the Thirty Years’ War (and the Great Plague prior) produced some of our greatest hymns- among them the King and Queen of Lutheran Chorales- Wake, Awake for Night is Flying and Oh, Morning Star, How Fair and Bright. On October 26 each year, we commemorate Philipp Nicolai, Johann Heermann, and Paul Gerhardt. Philipp Nicolai lost 1,300 parishioners over a 6 month time period during the Great Plague. But, before we get lost in a hymn study, let us get back to getting to the French Revolution.
The times were volatile and sometimes strange. At the end of the day (or the end of Thirty Years of days), some European thinkers started to believe that religion is essentially dangerous and divisive. In their minds, there were two options- 1. absorb religion into the State, or 2. dissociate religion from the State, relegating the Scriptures to individual interpretation and church membership to individual choice. Depending on your point of view, the Thirty Years’ War was a conflict of nation-states and/or it was a conflict between churches.
These thinkers, many times known as Enlightenment thinkers, held up man’s reason as a replacement for any sort of religion or God. In doing so, Enlightenment thinkers like Immanuel Kant said, “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another…’ Have courage to use your own reason’ is the motto of enlightenment.”
Okay, Lutherans, what is the problem with this statement? Think explanation of the 3rd Article. Let’s say it together… “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength…”
The French Revolution, 1789-99, ushered in Modernism. What is Modernism? In modernism, God is dead and man solves all problems. Where Rome abandoned an adherence to tradition, Modernism obliterated it. Modernism trades one teacher, tradition, for another teacher, whether it is one’s own vanity and caprice, or the ambitions of the intellectual elite. Modernism’s fingers are everywhere. Modernism covers solid oak wood floors with linoleum. Modernism insists that the state must teach all the children so they learn the “correct” information. The state, modernism says, must protect children from their surroundings- surroundings like other children.
In 1989, or a bit before, as these things are rarely relegated to one moment, things changed again. Modernism told us God was dead and man could solve all problems. Science proved it. Science was everything. It “proved” things we didn’t know needed proving and we ended up with Darwin, Hitler, Margaret Sanger, and a host of other characters. In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The events leading to it and the events proceeding from it ushered in post-modernism. Post-modernism gave us things like stream of consciousness writing, “If it feels good, do it” Nike ads, and no-fault divorce. Post-modernism tells us that our own experience is paramount to any other’s experience and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everything is subjective and at long last, truth is whatever I think it is or you think it is.
We have bopped through history quickly and have taken a 5,000 foot view of some very critical events that still have an impact on you. But, I would like to give you one more historical event that makes all others pale in comparison. Friday, April 3, AD 33, Jesus Christ died. That, dear Lutherans, is the history upon which we stand. All events in history prior to that looked forward to that event and all events in history following look back to that event. Jesus’ death and resurrection are history. They are our history. This is why Lutherans stand on history: because truth matters and truth, just like beauty, is not up to the beholder. This, dear Lutherans, is why during the Creed we bow or genuflect when we confess that Jesus took on flesh and became man. Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who is not bound by time or space, entered time and space to save us from our wretchedness and the give the answer to every instance of “What does this mean.” Thanks be to God!
Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Jerome Carcopino
The History of the Decline and Fall of Ancient Rome by Edward Gibbon
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization by Anthony Esolen
Mrs. Jocelyn C. Benson serves as Wittenberg Academy's Head Teacher.
Recognition of 2017 CCLE Essay Winners pg. 18
2017 CCLE Essay Contest Winners
From the Head Teacher's Desk- p. 3
History as the Adornment of Humanity
Mrs. Jocelyn C. Benson
Candor for such a Time as This- p. 6
The Importance of Dressing Up
Mrs. Lauren K. Mastin
“The word story comes from the Latin historia, and that is just as well. History for children is a grand story filled with stories, and the names and the dates are important in the story for the same reason that you cannot make sense out of a novel if you are always forgetting who is who and how old they are.”
-Out of the Ashes by Anthony Esolen
The Importance of Dressing Up
A time existed when women wore dresses, heels, and neatly pinned up hair and when men wore a suit and tie to church on Sunday mornings. Their children of all ages, nicely dressed and sitting quietly in the pews, attended with them. Whether the service was a feast day or if the man was on elder’s duty did not matter; they always dressed that way. They understood that the way people dressed left an impression. They understood how they dressed set them apart.
Those practices now seem a thing of the past especially for younger generations. So why are things so different now? Because of the change in our priorities, we no longer realize the importance of dressing up. Why is the practice of dressing up for church so important?
We dress up for church to reflect the occasion. When something important happens, we dress accordingly. When we are invited to a wedding, we don the nicest apparel we own. Oftentimes, we even go out and purchase a new outfit. If someone were to show up in jeans and a t-shirt, we would wonder whether they were truly an invited guest or happened in uninvited. If the president invited you to a dinner at his home, with his wife serving, would you wear jeans and a t-shirt? Or would you go out and buy a nice dress and suit?
We dress up for church to reflect who will be present. If we dress up for earthly feasts, why would we not exert the same effort for a heavenly feast, a feast in which we are in the presence of our Heavenly Father Himself as He dwells on the altar in His very body and blood. This feast, where we commune with the saints who have gone before us, is a joyous occasion. What event could be more deserving of our reverence as Christians?
We also dress up for church to be reverent. We physically show reverence in many other aspects of the service. We fold our hands in prayer; we bow during the Gloria; we cross ourselves at the mention of the Holy Trinity. Those serve as only a few examples of how we use our body reverently in worship. If we do all those other things with our body in reverence to God, why should we not show it through how we dress?
Finally, we dress up to reflect who we are. You know of the expressions, “Dress for the part,” or, “Let the part dress you.” Well, these are true. In society, we make certain assumptions about people based on what they are wearing. If you dress in a tall white hat, people will assume you are a chef. If you walk into church in a stole, even those who have never attended a church service in their life, will recognize you as the pastor. We are the children of God. As such, we should dress accordingly.
We are clothed with the righteousness of God, bestowed upon us at our baptism. As Matthew 5:14-16 states, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Society is watching Christians. They make judgments based off of what we do, say, and how we act. What does it say to people if we don’t even bother to comb our hair or change out of our everyday jeans to worship our God on Sunday morning? More importantly, what does it say to our children? Our lack of reverence in dress says that this is not an important event; nothing significant happens here. Is that really the
message that we wish to convey to our children about the Divine Service?
We need to teach our children the importance of the Divine Service, and the reverence that must accompany it. We can teach them all of the points above, but that will all come to naught if we do not practice what we preach ourselves. We must take these points to heart, remembering whose we are and how richly we have been blessed with His mercy and forgiveness.
Mrs. Lauren K. Mastin serves as Wittenberg Academy's Communications Director.
Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Trinity
Growing up in a county that once knew prosperity, and now living in a county that also once knew prosperity, the words from a couple of hymns take on personal meaning. We live "in these last days of great distress"; "these gray and latter days". The memories of what some call "The Great Recession" still linger. Perhaps we are still in the throes of it here. Many hearts remain full of anxiety.
Saint Paul tells the church in Rome: We know that for those who love God all things work together for good.... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? The answer is nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Even hard times serve for our own good.
Hard times serve for humble recognition of your sin. Four thousand men were in physical need in Mark chapter eight. They followed Jesus into the wilderness. They wanted to hear the Word of life. They forgot about earthly food to feast on the Bread of Life. They sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Everything else follows from it. What happens in the wilderness with Jesus, His disciples, and four thousand men shows what happens when everything follows after seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Every weekend the Holy Spirit gathers the faithful together to be fed with the Bread of Life. The church bell rings. Hymns are sung. The Word is heard and proclaimed. The Lord's Supper is given. You are blessed and go home forgiven. Who wouldn't want to miss it?
Many people miss it to their own peril. Yes, life happens. Yes, you're sick. Yes, you're physically unable to be here. Yet so many miss what happens here because the pursuit of personal satisfaction has gotten in the way of true satisfaction in Christ. We pray "Give us this day our daily bread", then spend our whole lives going after daily bread with a vengeance. Before you know it, well, there's no time for Jesus. Maybe there's a scattered moment or two in the day when you think about God, maybe say a quick prayer, then get back to racing and chasing after that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Even Christians are guilty of misplaced priorities. We are well-fed with things of this world. Granted there are wonderful moments of clarity, like this past Wednesday's ingathering of food for our community food pantry. Those seem like fleeting moments, though. There's always one more thing you need and then everything will be just so...until you discover you need just one more thing to round it all off. You set aside the heavenly things for yet another chase after earthly things. You still think everything is up to you to run the race to the bitter end. You forget that everything rests on the Lord blessing you with stewardship of all you have.
Hard times also serve for joyful confidence in the Lord's help. Jesus says to His disciples: If I send them home hungry, they will faint on the way. It's as if Jesus turns to the Twelve and asks them to come up with a solution. They have seen Jesus change water into wine. They have seen Him feed five thousand men with five loaves of barley bread and two fish. Their response has to be: "Lord, You will make it happen. You alone can do everything."
Nope. Their response sounds like our probable response. Where can anyone get enough bread to feed these people here in this deserted place? They can't help it. Neither can we help it. When life is cruising along, we don't lack in courage and confidence. We're not bashful with advice and help. When a need comes, we are helpless and embarrassed. We cling to what we see and what we have. We start playing the numbers game like the disciples. Let's see. Seven loaves of bread. A few small fish. That might feed four, but certainly not four thousand.
Jesus wants to help. Jesus does help in a big way. You get a sense something big is about to happen when He says I feel compassion for the crowd. Something big does happen. The crowd is told to sit down. Jesus took the seven loaves, gave thanks, and broke them. He gave the pieces to His disciples to distribute to the crowd, and they did so. They also had a few small fish. He blessed them and said that these should be distributed as well. The people ate and were satisfied.
The Lord Jesus Christ knows only one way to give: the way of more. Christ gives more than what anyone expected. We think of Psalm 145: The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. These words are often heard when asking a blessing before a meal. What is not often heard are the verses that follow: The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. The Lord preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Every day we see suffering before us. We probably know at least one family wondering where their next meal will appear. We probably know at least one family struggling to keep the power on or the rent paid. There are those who squander what is given to them. Yet there are those who are underemployed; those who suffer from generational poverty. Living hand to mouth is literally their way of life for decades. Whether you have much, or whether you have little, the Lord will make sure you are never skimp. He's probably not going to plop millions of dollars into your lap. He will, however, make sure His children have what they need exactly when they need it.
You've seen it. You've lived it. There's too much month and not enough money. Yet there is just enough to see you through, with perhaps some fragments left to tide you over until next month. You will eat and be satisfied. The Lord God will see to it. The Lord God also will see to it that you have satisfaction for your sins through Jesus Christ. Though you may be in debt over your head, your eternal debt is paid in full in the blood of Jesus Christ. There's no need for rambling and scrambling to try to make ends meet for God. He's done everything necessary for you to live with Him for all eternity. Everything is accomplished in Christ. Nothing is left in your hands.
When you have enough, you have enough to give to others who haven't enough. If the Lord works good in happy times, He also can work good in hard times. Hard times show you Who is truly in charge of everything. Hard times show to Whom everything belongs. Hard times gives you the opportunity to open your hand and let gratitude fall from it. When gratitude falls from your hand, you have a basket full of broken pieces that are used to satisfy the need of your neighbor. A basketful of broken pieces given to broken people is the love of God in Christ Jesus in action. As the Scriptures say, we love because He first loved us.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. + DMJ
Rev. David M. Juhl serves as Chaplain of Wittenberg Academy. Additionally, his vocations include husband of one wife, father of five children, and pastor of Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Momence, Illinois.
Is Change Good?
What's the greatest obstacle to change and renewal in the Church? Lutherans are a mixed bag these days, but most of the time I presume political gridlock isn't to blame so much as apathy. (And perhaps "apathy" isn't the right word. Sometimes it seems almost like a militant adherence to the status quo.) Speaking from my experience, I don't know how many times in the past several years "I've never heard any complaints" was given as a reason not to change something. Its close relatives are: "We've always done it this way," and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It perplexes me to some degree. If I can find someone who is willing to voice some complaint, or at least suggest that improvements could be made, then will you consider changing? What if, like good Lutherans, we're just keeping our opinions to ourselves? Mother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say..."
The same old argument came out of the bag recently in regard to commissioning artwork to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It's happened often enough to at least give me pause. Is there something to it? Are there times when the status quo is to be honored above change? If I can understand the mindset, maybe that will help me to overcome the rigid apathy.
I consider myself a traditionalist, so in that regard it's somewhat odd that I so often find myself on the side of change. On the one hand, I thank God that my church is a conservative Lutheran congregation. We don't have battles over praise bands, trendy youth programs, or licentious pastors. I think my church is pretty normal among the WELS in that regard.
On the other hand, probably like many WELS churches, we sometimes confuse the status quo for "tradition." They aren't necessarily the same. The traditions of the Church (e.g., the liturgy) were established long ago and for good reasons (e.g. maintaining good order, preaching the gospel, aiding learning). Those reasons still stand. The interesting thing about the traditions of the Church is that even while they remain, they change. What served as the liturgy in the Byzantine Empire won't work for 21st century American Lutherans in Seward, Nebraska. But we still have a liturgy, and we probably sing some of the same biblical canticles that Justinian sang—only they've been translated into English and set to different music with different instruments. The clergy that served in Hagia Sophia would have worn albs, just like our pastor. But their vesture would have seemed distinctly Roman and somewhat alien to us.
Traditions in the church are commended by the Book of Concord as being good and useful, but they change. Aside from regional and cultural changes that occur when Christianity is transmitted around the world, Christians have deliberately and often improved the tradition. This is why Romanesque churches eventually gave way to Gothic—many Europeans thought that pointed vaults, stained glass windows, more light, and greater verticality resulted in a more beautiful and fitting setting for worship. Note: These weren't radical changes—they occurred slowly over hundreds of years, and maintained the same basic layout of churches past. Also Note: There was nothing wrong with the previous style. When Constantine first made Christianity legal, Christians who had worshipped well enough in house-churches didn't remain there; they began building large basilica-churches. Likewise, the Gothic style didn't come about because parishioners complained that they didn't like rounded arches. In both cases, church architecture changed because Christians with artistic sensibilities saw room for improvement.
Jump forward to 1517. Martin Luther reformed many of the traditions of the Catholic Church. One notable example was that he excised the Canon of the Mass from the liturgy. The original reasons for having the liturgy still remained—but the Canon hindered them. It turned the Sacrament of the Eucharist into a sacrifice, thus denying the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ and obscuring the essence of the gospel. This is an example of a change that was not only an improvement, but a necessity.
Luther should serve as a good example for us even in the 21st century. Contrary to the beliefs of some, the Reformation was not a one-time event. The Word and its pure teaching must constantly be guarded; the Church must undergo constant reform and renewal. Our resistance to change is understandable, given how highly Lutherans value their heritage, and given the many pressures within the church to conform to an increasingly godless culture. But we can become so wary of negative changes that we fear any change. I see that attitude in myself often enough. Change is not the enemy of the Church. Bad changes are the enemy. Good changes are the work of the Holy Spirit. It may sound like a corny corporate policy, but Meme Dwight is right: improvement is always possible.
Of course, the Church doesn't change for the sake of change. We search the scriptures and test the spirits. We want to make sure: first, that there are good reasons to change; and second, that the change will actually be an improvement before we implement it. We should always resist bad changes. And for that reason, we can find cause to commend at least some of our Lutheran stubbornness. But if Lutherans are not open to change of any kind, then we're not open to improvement, either.
And that, I think, is not a tenable position for a Christian to have.
This article was reprinted with permission from Jonathan Mayer's Scapegoat Studio blog .
Mr. Jonathan Mayer serves as art teacher for Wittenberg Academy. He also works as a liturgical artist under the pseudonym Scapegoat Studio,.He lives in Seward with his wife, Emily, and their four children,.
“Music is an outstanding gift of God and next to theology.” This sentiment from Luther is recorded for us in the Table Talk, and it resounds in harmony with the reformer's own writings on the subject. Upon surveying the musical proclivities of our day, we might estimate Luther's little saying to be quite bold; yet upon examination, Luther simply asserts the rightful place of music as one of the many blessings of God, in service of God. Music rightly occupies its place next to theology when it glorifies God; when it complements rather than hinders whatever text may accompany it; and when it does not inculcate an emotional attachment to false theology.
Luther here describes music as a “gift of God.” This may seem jarring if we review some of the lyrics carried on our airwaves, which incite men to avarice and greed, to lust and licentiousness. Luther likewise lamented the “love ballads” (and worse) during his own time. Yet to music he still commends such an honor! Thus the problem lies not with music itself, which is the gift of the Creator, but rather with us, the creatures, and our abuse thereof. Like unto other gifts of God—whether shelter and food or spouse and children—we regularly idolize or despise such blessings.
But Luther hereby reasserts music as a blessing from God and, irrespective of our abuses, invites us to reclaim its use in honor of God's Word. This is not to say that music lacking an explicitly sacred character is to be forsaken; together with Luther, we acknowledge many useful purposes of music, not the least of which is pedagogy. But for the sake of brevity, let us focus more narrowly on the songs of the church, chief of which are the liturgies and the chorales.
First, let us examine the marriage of text and tune. Luther writes: “Experience testifies that, after the Word of God, music alone deserves to be celebrated as mistress and queen of the emotions of the human heart.” Consider Luther's setting of Psalm 130: From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee (cf. LSB 607). Luther habitually employed different modes according to the character of the text; indeed, here, the Phrygian mode imparts a penetential aesthetic. Further, Luther provides a musical interpretation of the text in the first notes, which shape an auditory (as well as visual) picture of the depth of sin.
Having studied the merits of this particular setting, compare instead the same words, set to the waltzing Ionian mode (i.e. major) melody of All Glory Be to God on High (cf. LSB 947): The clash between the text and the emotion engendered by this melody should be readily apparent. Much more could be (and has been) said concerning the content and style of music used in our churches, but let this example illustrate that music best serves theology when it uplifts the text rather than obscures it or steals focus therefrom.
Yet if a strong, suitable tune drags behind it a diluted or even a false teaching, music there also usurps the role of theology! For where the text does not conform to the Word of God, the music only serves to promulgate that error. Even if such error were preached from our pulpits, it may be soon forgotten. But the preaching of song from the pews stirs the emotions and persists in the mind. For many laity, the hymnal serves as their book of doctrine, endeared to them week after week. Thus it is of utmost importance that the music of the sects be carefully reviewed, revised, and vetted by orthodox theologians before it is appropriated for use among our people.
Up to this point, we have used “theology” and “Word of God” interchangeably, and with good reason; etymologically, theology is an elision of θεός and λόγος, that is: words or study about God, the one true God. In the preface to his exposition of Psalm 51, Luther writes: “The proper subject of theology is man, guilty of sin and lost, and God, who justifies and is the Savior of sinful man. Whatever in theology is sought or argued outside this subject is error and poison.”
Thus the best hymnist—he who places music in service to theology—is that theologian who preaches Law and Gospel in song. And, thankfully, we have several models of such: the Psalms and the Biblical canticles; the ancient liturgies of the church; and the Lutheran chorales, to name a few. So then, let us celebrate our rich musical heritage. And let us consciously subject our music—and therefore also our emotions—to the Word of God. Lord help us to do so. Amen.
Mr. Kirk Meyer serves as a Quadrivium instructor for Wittenberg Academy. He also runs Kloria Publishing.
Music: Next to Theology
We Lutherans, like all historically liturgical confessions within the Christian Church, use vestments for worship. Vestments are the “liturgical uniforms” worn by pastors and by some lay people (such as some elders, altar boys, and members of the choir) as they carry out their responsibilities in the church service.
Vestments are ancient, and many of them have been in use since the days of the Roman Empire. They are “coded” to convey certain information, such as identifying the celebrant, the preacher, the unordained assistants, etc. Their colors remind us of the season of the church year, or if this a feast day to a saint or martyr. How they are decorated may point us to a particular aspect of Christ or the Church, such as a reminder of the Lord’s kingship, His divinity as Alpha and Omega, His passion and cross, or even the fact that we are from the Lutheran confession and tradition.
Vestments may be sparse and spartan, or may be expensive and elaborate. They may reflect local custom and may precisely match the colors of the church’s paraments, or they may be the pastor’s own, and may reflect what he, as a shepherd, wishes to say to the flock in a non-verbal way.
Like every other element of art in the sanctuary, the ultimate message is Jesus Christ and Him crucified: the Atonement for our sins who is God in the flesh, He who has mercy upon us and redeems us!
There is a paradox when it comes to vestments. On the one hand, they are there to cover up the man who is serving the congregation. In other words, the vestments – which are often passed along from pastor to pastor – tend to de-emphasize the individual and point instead to the Office. In this sense, they function as uniforms – which create a uniformity in the appearance of the people who hold various offices and vocations, such as police or military personnel, students, or emergency workers.
Such unifomity transcends space and time, as these customs span the world and the passage of the centuries. They are truly catholic customs, binding us with Christians past, present, and future, and with our brothers and sisters in every land and clime.
Vestments serve to identify the vocations of the people wearing them. For example, a pastor wears a stole over his neck like a scarf or yoke. A deacon wears one diagonally over his shoulder. A subdeacon wears no stole. For the Eucharist, the celebrant may wear a chasuble, and other pastors or deacons serving along with the celebrant might wear a similar vestment called a dalmatic. In some Lutheran churches, there are bishops who wear the distinctive hat called a miter, and who may carry a type of ceremonial shepherd’s crook called a crosier.
But vestments also have another function: adornment. Often, vestments are richly colored, finely decorated with gold thread and fancy embroidery, and are often made of expensive silk. Some people frown upon such “pomp and circumstance” arguing that such funds could be better used to take care of the poor (John 12:5!). But what better use for the best things we have to offer than to use them as a confession of that which is truly important: Christ and the Church! The Lord God gave very careful instructions concerning the adornment of the Temple: fine gold and silver, exquisite carvings, beautiful fabric, splendid thread and needlework – the very best that artists and artisans had to offer. And just as our confessions express the idea that ceremonies “teach the people what they need to know about Christ” (AC 24:3), so too do vestments, as they are used in the ritual acts of the church.
In the same way that fine china and special table settings send a message that a certain meal is a special occasion and that the guests of the meal are loved and valued, the fact that the Divine Service is adorned not only with beautiful furnishings (such as altar, pulpit, and font), and beautiful artwork (such as stained glass, statues, and icons), and beautiful vessels (such as the chalice and ciborium and other vessels used in Holy Communion), so too does the adornment of vestments convey celebration, dignity, acknowledgment of the King, the love and devotion of the people to their Lord, and the solemnity of the event of the Divine Service itself – the holiest Thanksgiving meal of all, one in which the King is both host and guest.
It’s important to remember what adornment is not: it is not a personal expression of the pastor or congregation or donor. Nor is it an attempt to show off wealth, nor a manifestation of art for art’s sake. Like all adornment within the Holy Place, this is sacred art, an exultation not of us poor, miserable sinners, but rather of the Most Holy Trinity, and the Good News that God the Son has redeemed us by His royal and precious blood – blood shared with us at the cross, and blood received by us at the communion rail.
And whether we are worshiping in a cathedral or a hospital bed, let our thoughts and adornments, be they elaborate or simple, serve to both confess and honor Him who bears the Name into which we have been adorned with Holy Baptism!
Pastor Larry Beane serves as a Paideia instructor for Wittenberg Academy.
The Adornment of Vestments
Wittenberg Academy is pleased to announce that recent graduates Autumn Grote and Jonathan Paul placed in this year's CCLE Essay Contest. Their Paideia instructors Pastor Henrickson and Pastor Beane were there to accept their certificates and awards. Congratulations, Autumn and Jonathan!
Wittenberg Academy 2016-17
CCLE Essay Contest Winners
On the Road with Wittenberg Academy
Recent and upcoming travels
CCLE XVII July 11-14, 2017
Trinity Lutheran Church and School
2017 Institute on Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music July 25-28, 2017
Chicago University Chicago
Higher Things Conference July 25-28, 2017
Rural & Small Town Mission November 9-11, 2017
Hilton Kansas City
Kansas City, MO
Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.
But when thou does anneal i glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers, then the light and glorie
More rev'rend grows, and more doth win;
Which else shows atrish, bleak, and thin.
Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw: but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.
A point of confession
2016-17 Academic Calendar
June 5- August 25 (No Class July 4)
2017-2018 Academic Calendar
MICHAELMAS TERM: September 5, 2017 - November 22, 2017
CHRISTMAS TERM: November 27, 2017 - March 2, 2018
(Thanksgiving Break November 23-26, Christmas Break December 23 - January 7)
EASTER TERM: March 5, 2018 - May 25, 2018 (Easter Break March 29-April 2)
TRINITY TERM: June 4, 2018 - August 24, 2018 (No Class Independence Day, July 4)
"In this way good works ought to follow faith. Yet people who cannot believe and be sure that they are freely forgiven for Christ's sake, and that freely they have a reconciled God for Christ's sake, use works in a far different way. When they see the works of saints, they judge in a human way that saints have merited forgiveness of sins and grace through these works. So they imitate them, thinking that through siilar works they merit forgivess of sins and grace. They think that through these works they appease God's wrath and are counted righteous for the sake of these works. we condemn this godless opinion about works."
~ Luther's Large Catechism- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession V (III) 82-83
Here are just a few courses offered during
the Michaelmas trimester:
Registration is Still Open
for the 2017-18 Academic Year!
Philosophy Mrs. Emily Cockran
Christians are exhorted to be prepared to give a defense for the hope we have within us (1 Peter 3:15). Building on what was learned in Logic, Philosophy, which literally means love of wisdom, gives students the skill and practice to not only analyze, but also to defend the hope they have in Christ. Scholars will join the likes of Luther, Melanchthon, and Chemnitz in becoming philosophically literate and able to respond in a Lutheran manner to what Roger Scruton calls the "academic repudiation" of Western and Christian thought.
Grammar I Miss Emilyann Pool
Grammar, the foundation for language, includes the building blocks to effective communication, both spoken and written. In this course, students will review and master basic language skills necessary for clear writing and argumentation at the secondary level and beyond. Students will diagram sentences to understand sentence construction, as well as complete some spelling and word study. This course will provide a foundation for students intending to progress to Logic I and II, Rhetoric I and II, and Speech/Debate.
Art Foundations I Mr. Jonathan Mayer
This course is designed to lay a broad foundation for further study in the visual arts. It combines art theory and criticism, studio projects, and art history from the Paleolithic to the Gothic era. Projects include a portrait bust, a Byzantine mosaic, an illuminated manuscript page, and a faux stained glass window.
Physical Science Mrs. Erika Mildred
Martin Luther said of science, "We are at the dawn of a new era, for we are beginning to recover the knowledge of the external world that was lost through the fall of Adam. We now observe creatures properly .... But by the grace of God we already recognize in the most delicate flower the wonders of divine goodness and omnipotence." In this survey course designed for students in 7th or 8th grade, students will explore the inanimate objects of nature that God created.
Arithmetic Mrs. Rebecca McCreary
This course is designed for students to shore up their studies of Arithmetic prior to progressing to the Algebra track of courses. Students taking this class will generally be in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade.
Rhetoric I Dr. James Tallmon
This is a course in the fundamentals of speech. What constitutes the fundamentals of speech is, of course, open to interpretation. This course is approached from a classical liberal arts perspective that takes thinking as fundamental to speech. Rhetoric, long considered the cornerstone of the liberal arts, is the art of persuasive speaking. The study of rhetoric provides a foundation in speech composition upon which the course builds. The course builds on that foundation by studying, in a very systematic, and highly integrated fashion, the tools of dialectic and rhetoric, not as subjects, per se, but as the means whereby one cultivates wisdom and eloquence. Students develop mental habits that make them at home in the realm of ideas (i.e., to analyze, critique, refute and persuade about, ideas).
Students deliver a variety of speeches. The core of the course involves a series of linked speeches in which students first overview, then analyze, then persuade about a contemporary controversial topic of their choosing. Great speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln and others, are studied and discussed throughout the term. This attempt at learning by watching "masters in action" culminates in an assignment in which students choose their favorite Great Speech and explain what makes it great.
This book is a treasure for all ages!
Buy this book for your kids, buy it for your grandkids, buy it for the kids at church, buy this book!
Then teach this hymn to your kids, your grandkids, the kids at church, and tell your pastor to have it sung at your funeral.
Sing this hymn!
from Kloria Publishing
Here are some upcoming publications
of Kloria Publishing that will be released in October.
Wittenberg Academy's 2nd Annual Family Retreat
Wittenberg Academy held their 2nd Annual Family Retreat on April 27-29, 2017. Many good conversations were had and memories made. Our plenary speaker, Dr. Anthony Esolen, spoke on imagination and education, generating many thoughtful discussions. Many families were able to make connections with other homeschool families and exchange thoughts and ideas. We look forward to next years' retreat on April 26-28 with speaker Aaron Wolf. We hope you can join us!
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