TABLE TALK

Official Publication of the LMS-USA

August 2004

Volume 11, Number 3


In this Issue:


Why do We Worship
by Rev. Ralph Spears

So why do we worship? Why spend the time? Why build special places set aside just for worship? places that we have to keep up heat and clean and manicure? Just to worship! AND, it seems, that we are never quite satisfied unless they are larger and more grand as in the poem of John Greenleaf Whittier (I think)...

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul!
While the swift seasons roll.
Leave thy low vaulted past,
with a dome more vast
-The Chambered Nautilus

And so the subject of our LMS-USA Conference this past month, Why We Worship - searched for the answers. Worship is such serious business that we often joke about it, as we do with most all serious things; falling asleep in the service, being bored by the sermons or having the mind wander off to more mundane matters.

But all joking aside, this alone, is why there are Churches and Synagogues, not for the congregational suppers, the social activities and the snappy Youth program, but because the heart and soul of what we do is - Worship!

In fact, man(kind) was made to worship. It's built into us, a part of our fabric, essential, to our being! But we have had trouble doing it since the Hebrews found other things to do beside worship and other things to unholy things to follow on the one day set aside in the whole week - to be Holy. No, Colts football is not the first incursion activity into the Sabbath!

Perhaps the verse above captures the idea to build more stately mansions! And if we don't worship God then to build bigger and better for what it is that we do worship larger domed stadiums, more expensive and elaborate autos with everything in them. Notice that the car ads on T.V. these days, say little about the features and everything about the pleasurable experience of driving in almost a worshipful state of mind! "Ah that's a Lexus!" It has also been said that "bigger boys just have bigger toys!"

But it is just a matter of time before we realize that these are lesser goals, and pursuits that just don't fill the bill that they once promised. WHY? Because, it is the soul that is really doing the building as in that first line above. And it is that inner restless soul that must be satisfied. Furthermore, it is only worship of the highest things that proves fulfilling and lasting in value. The soul is very discerning, and only worship of God can bring that "Peace that passes all understanding!" as Scripture says. Indeed many put so many other things in God's place that a whole commandment was given to cover that one. Doing this, we are never whole and we are not free. Did the writer really have worship in mind - when he added, "'Til thou at last are free!" I suspect so. Because, nothing else brings the freedom.

We fight with it, bargain over it and try to ignore worship. But only true worship fills the longing and makes us at last free!

Worship is not about us, not something that we control. It is not entertainment although many today seem to confuse the two, nor is it done with long face and false tones. Worship is the encounter with God on God's terms. Corporate worship, together with a congregation brings an unforgettable experience when done properly. It can make it easier for each person to worship "as two or three are gathered together" yet, worship is still individual. The individual does it and experiences it within themselves even in the midst of a large congregation. Worship is a gift, a blessing and a grace of our Faith!

back to top


The 2004 Annual Conference and Convention of the LMS-USA ~ A Summary
by Rev. Michael Vahle

Conference Presentations

Pastor Ralph Spears opened the conference by leading a discussion on "What Is Worship?" Comments included: Glorifying God for what he has done for us. It's not "random," but "centered." It's "mystical." The German word Gottedienst has been used to refer to our "service" of God, but in worship more accurately describes God's "service" to us in the Gospel. It is undergirded by the angelic hosts. It is "the most essential thing" for man, not an "add on" in life. It begins in human expectation, but it's "all about God." It is for believers; it is not an evangelism tool. "Rearranging furniture" doesn't "make worship."

Pastor John Erickson spoke on the historical development of the (Sunday) worship service. He distributed copies of "The Didache," which contains the earliest known description of our Christian liturgy. He also passed out copies of "The Centres of Jewish Worship," about synagogue worship and how it influenced the development of Christian liturgy. Besides the wealth of historical materials in his presentation, Pastor Erickson gave everyone an outline of our service that included Scripture references - very much like the materials our confirmands studied last winter.

Pastor Spears spoke again on "The Difference Between Worship & Showmanship." Worship can be entertaining, but it ought not be designed to draw attention to itself. Conference participants offered many examples of "worship" they had seen that was flagrantly theatrical, drawing attention away from the Gospel of Jesus instead of towards it. Pastors should prepare themselves for worship through study, prayer, and meditation, including a time of peace before the liturgy. While worship can "happen" anywhere, aspects of the worship setting can enhance or detract from the purpose of worship.

Pastor Bob Hotes spoke on "Who We Worship Shapes How We Worship." He discussed a number of Scripture passages relating to the topic-Ex. 20:3; Matt. 4:10; Acts 25:26; 14:11-12; Col. 2:8-23; & Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9. All worship of God is through Christ alone, by faith. A "modern heresy" is that someone "owes" us amusement, therefore if church seems boring, don't go! In contrast, the Christian should consider such questions as: Are we in heaven or on earth in public worship? What is the purpose of public worship? What are the essential elements of public worship? Martin Luther at first seemed to contemplate abolishing the liturgy, but then saw it as means of furthering the Gospel.

Pastor Spears and Pastor Hotes coordinated a "liturgical fashion show" of various clerical garb through the centuries. Ian Griffith wore the robes of a Jewish High Priest, Max Amsden those of a nineteenth century Lutheran pastor in Germany. Although the various gowns, stoles, etc. came to be associated with theological "meanings," originally most were ordinary street clothing from various times and places.

Pastor Dick Horn spoke on "Essential & Non-Essential Elements of the Liturgy." God's Word is the context and the content of worship. According to the Augsburg Confession, the Church exists where the Gospel is rightly preached, and the Sacraments are rightly administered. The focal point of the Christian Church has to be worship, because that's where Word and Sacrament are. "The Word is proclaimed to Lutheran congregations in the context of liturgy"-this statement demonstrates the "genius" of the "5 Points" of the LMS ("Word" equates with Biblical, "Proclaimed" equates with Evangelical, "Lutheran" equates with Confessional, "Congregation" equates with Congregational, and "Liturgy" equates with Liturgical). Psychologists teach that "rituals" are important in all parts of life; we know this is no less true in worship. St. Augustine said not to get hung up on the imperfect while you're waiting for the perfect!

Pastor Michael Zamzow spoke on "Active Listening-the Lessons, Sermon, Creed, and Prayers in Worship." God's Word has power, cf. Heb. 4; John 1; and Is. 55. The Lutheran understanding: When the pastor is in the pulpit, God is speaking! Don't preach "about the Bible," but preach "the Word." God's Word, like any language, has its own grammar and syntax. To truly learn it, you must immerse yourself in it, just as to truly learn a foreign language, immersion is the only effective way. The repetition of liturgy gives us the context, grammar, and syntax of faith. How can one understand God's Word if he shows up for worship only occasionally? No one could learn a language that way. Regular worship is important. "Three Questions for Preachers": 1) When's the last time you read Hammer of God, by Bishop Bo Giertz? 2) When you prepare a sermon, whom do you "see"-your homiletics professor; or, worse, your dogmatics professor; or, worse yet, your exegesis professor? Or, do you see your congregation? 3) Do you worry about what people will say about your sermon, or what God wants you to say?

Pastor Jeff Iverson spoke about "An Introduction to the Daily Offices." The daily services of historic Christianity had a different development and purpose than the Sunday Eucharists. The Sunday services developed from the synagogue Sabbath service and the practice of the apostolic Christians. The daily services hearken to calls for individual prayer at various times of day described in such passages as Psalm 55:17; Psalm 119:164; Dan. 6:10b; Acts 3:1; and Acts 10:9. The times of daily prayer were regularized by the monastic Rule of St. Benedict in the sixth century and its seven "canonical" hours of prayer-Matins (during the night), Lauds (dawn), Prime (beginning of the work day), Terce (9 a.m.), Sext (noon); None (3 p.m.), Vespers (end of the work day); and Compline (bedtime). Since Lutherans abandoned the monastic communities, congregations customarily are familiar only with three services, which combine the above-Matins (or Morning Prayer), Vespers (or Evening Prayer), and Compline. These are in most Lutheran hymnals. They are structured around the singing of Psalms and the Biblical Canticles-the Songs of Mary, Simeon, and Zechariah-as well as the magnificent Te Deum Laudamus ("We Praise You, O God"). They have a more contemplative character than the Sunday celebrations.

Synod Business

All current officers were re-elected. The proposed 2004-2005 was approved. A number of clergy were interviewed and accepted either as associate members or as subscriptional members of the clergy roster.

Considerable work has been done on our own St. Timothy Lutheran Seminary. It was moved to proceed on plans to operate our seminary under Wisconsin State law. It is being designed for the perparation of our own ministerial workers. A faculty including supervising pastors and tutors has been drawn up. A board of directors is being worked on. A catalog has been drafted.

The ILC (International Lutheran Council) application is still pending.

A major item of business is a complete reworking of the LMS Consititution. A first draft of a major portion of the constitution was presented for consideration.

It was interesting to learn that our website (lmsusa.org) website had 6,200 'unique visitors' per month this past year.

It was decided to hold our 2005 annual Conference/Convention at St. Matthew, Indianapolis, June 24-25-26.

back to top


The Word in Worship
by Rev. Michael Zamzow

I would like to relate a true story from a small rural Lutheran congregation in Wisconsin. For those familiar with Wisconsin geography, Christ Ev.-Lutheran Church is located at West Bloomfield which is on State Highway 49 half way between Weyauwega and PoySippi. It is a beautiful brick church which has the usual pew arrangement as well as a few single pews along the outside walls which are used for overflow on occasions such as Christmas Eve. One of the members, a farmer, was known to fall asleep on cue at the beginning of every sermon. Upon hearing the pastor's "Amen," he would lean forward, grab on to the pew in front of him and pull himself up to join everyone else in receiving the pulpit blessing. There came a Sunday when the farmer arrived later than usual. The church was well attended, so he was forced to be seated in one of the pews along the wall. As was his habit, he dozed off at the beginning of the sermon. When the cue, the pastor's "Amen," sounded, the farmer leaned forward to raise himself with the congregation and fell on his face.

We are able to turn worship into a series of cues which clue us in as to when to stand, kneel, sit, reach into our wallets, or go home. If our purpose in worship is to merely listen for the "Amen," we are likely to fall on our faces, not in reverence, but in foolishness. Worship is very much about God's Word, God speaking to us. Not only the lessons and sermon, but the whole liturgy is Scripture or inspired by Scripture as the prayers echo the lessons, the creed focuses the Biblical witness, the introit shapes our prayers through the Bible's prayer book, the Psalms. Given that God's Word permeates worship, it is important that we become aware of presuppositions about God's Word and also about how these presuppositions apply to or shape our worship.

Important Presuppositions

Our presuppositions about God's Word come from Scripture itself. To begin with, God's Word is a Living Word. "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 NASB). In worship, God's Word is the subject which examines and explores the object: our hearts. In worship, we find ourselves confronted by God. It is not the place where we dissect the Word, the Word dissects us.

In the midst of the tumult around us, God's Word is unshakeable. "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8 NASB). Human ideas have come and gone through the centuries. Some ideas misled. Others proved inadequate. It is this steadfastness which keeps worship from becoming fadish or a mere expression of contemporary culture. Without this presupposition, the temptation to let worship scratch itching ears becomes very powerful.

When we gather for worship, we also gather with the presupposition that God's Word has a purpose and the power to accomplish that purpose. The Word which called everything that is into being, the Word which bespeaks us righteous for Jesus' sake is a word which gets things done. It is more than "just words." "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.'"(Isaiah 55:8-11 NASB). We expect something to happen when we worship and it all starts with God, not with us. We do not come together to get ourselves psyched up or worked up into a frenzy. It is rather God's Word which lays hold of us and accomplishes in us and for us what God wants sometimes frustrating our own expectations and desires.

In a simple phrase which sums up these presuppositions, God is speaking. Worship is not preachers or professors talking about God. God speaks to us and we respond in Words He gives us. Knowing this makes a crucial difference in the way we hear and speak during a divine service. When God speaks, He has his own grammar and syntax which bring words together to convey meaning. Language is more than vocabulary. If language were a mere matter of vocabulary, computer translation programs would do a much better job than they do. Anyone who has tried out one of these programs has experienced how confusing a translation which inadequately conveys meaning can be.

Language is best learned by hearing, repeating, listening, being corrected, gradually gaining understanding. I remember the first day I spent in Germany in the city of Frankfurt am Main. Even though my reason told me there was nothing astonishing about children of school age walking about and speaking fluent German in a German city, a part of me was astonished. I had worked so hard to learn German, studying grammar, memorizing vocabulary and verb charts, spending hours in the language lab. And here were these little kids who hadn't gone through the efforts and suffering I had and their German was fluent, mine was halting. It's easiest and best to learn a language while a child. Surrounded by language, children learn the subtleties and nuances which let words bear ever greater meaning. As God's children, in worship we are surrounded by God's Word. That Word shapes our thoughts, our lives. That's why it is so important that God be allowed to speak in our divine services so that God's Word is spoken, not spoken about. Fluency comes through immersion. As Lutherans, we know that Baptism is not dependent upon the method or on the amount of water. We therefore do not insist on immersion. Since we do know that the Word is what lets mere water become life-giving water, regenerating water, we should insist on immersion of another sort immersion in the Word. Our worship services should be just such an immersion experience, so that when God speaks, we have ears which actually hear.

Application and Consequences

We need to realize that hearing God's Word is not a one-shot deal. Worship shapes our lives because in our services, God impacts and imprints His image again and again. It is the simple and familiar which sustains us and gives us a place to stand when everything else erodes or fades away. In recent months I have been visiting a many with Alzheimer's disease. When I first started visiting him, I wasn't sure I was getting through, but I put my trust in the Word, not my ability to get through. Every visit ended with a short Scripture reading, a prayer, the Lord's Prayer, and a benediction. As my visits continued on a regular basis, the man began praying portions of the Lord's prayer again. On a recent visit, he recognized me as I came into the locked ward. His face lit up and he said, "I'm so glad to see you." The simple liturgy closed the visit as usual. He prayed almost all of the Lord's Prayer with me. As I spoke the "Amen" of the benediction, he said, "Amen. That's the way it should be." God's Word had fulfilled its purpose in bringing comfort, hope, and meaning to a man who had always been a faithful Christian who worshiped regularly. Even after a lifetime of immersion in God's Word, the immersion continued and the working of the Word continued.

We cannot underestimate the importance and power of immersion in God's Word. I remember repeating the words of the last verses of Psalm 27 as I was prepared for surgery, as I was wheeled to the operating room, as I was placed on the table, as the anesthetic was administered, and as I awoke knowing that I truly had seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Repetition can be empty, but it can also fill emptiness with meaning. It can give assurance and provide an anchor in times of trouble.

A short anecdote can perhaps nudge us into appreciating repetition. It is reported that in the beginning of the nineteenth century, a pastor in Hesse, Germany was in trouble with the church council. The church council was very upset with the pastor's preaching and complained to the consistory that the pastor was preaching the same sermon every Sunday. The consistory set out to settle the matter and traveled to the parish for a meeting with the pastor and the council. As everyone was settling into their chairs, the pastor made a humble request. He asked the permission of the consistory to ask one question of the council before the proceedings began. Permission was granted. The pastor turned to the council and asked, "What did I preach last Sunday?" There was silence. The pastor then turned to the consistory and said, "Now you see why I have to keep repeating that sermon."

Admonitions to Preachers

Preachers sometimes cultivate the art of preaching to the point of being artificial. Using rhetorical skills and devices is important in letting God's Word be heard. Our rhetoric can, however, rise to level where the words are lofty and incomprehensible. I was humbled as a pastor in Germany. After several years in a rural parish, my German had improved immensely and I began adopting the style of sophisticated preaching I had encountered. One Sunday a farmer who served as an elder and as treasurer took me aside and said, "Pastor, when you first came here, we understood your sermons so well. Lately we don't understand them at all." Style had made the Word inaccessible. I was so busy crafting words, that I wasn't allowing God to get in the Word.

A perhaps more common temptation in our contemporary American setting is that we dumb down worship and the sermon. Rather than immersing people in the Word, we assume that they can't handle the truth right now. So we keep some of the vocabulary, but change the language in ways which rob it of meaning. We figure that even milk is more than God's children can handle and offer them cotton candy, condemning them to slow, unsatisfying spiritual starvation.

Pastors need to get out of the way and let God speak, trusting that the Word will not return empty. We would perhaps do well to pray the Collect for the Word in the non-communion service of The Lutheran Hymnal (p. 14):

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of Thy holy Word we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which Thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

Admonitions for Listeners

That prayer is also a place for listeners to start. Listeners should also make it a habit of praying for the preacher. If the sermons are flat, listeners should ask themselves if they have been praying for their pastor before criticizing. Most preachers will tell you it is a lot easier to preach in a congregation where people are praying for the Word and the servant of the Word.

Listeners also need to be open to immersion in the Word. You can't learn German by drinking a beer and eating a bratwurst laden with sauerkraut. It is in the household of God that we learn the vocabulary, grammar and syntax of God's Word. It is in God's house that we are immersed in the Word. Christmas Eve and Easter each year do not constitute immersion.

We all bring expectations to services. We should always expect God to speak. When listeners expect this, they are more likely to get preachers who will get out of the way and let God do the talking. When listeners expect God to speak, their ears are more likely to be tuned into what God has to say. Then "Amen" becomes "This is most certainly true" and "Yes, yes, it shall be so" rather than a cue to stand up, walk out, or fall on our noses.

Questions for lay people

  1. After you brush your teeth and comb your hair, how do you prepare to hear God's Word?
  2. How do you support the speaking of God's Word beyond putting money in the offering plate
  3. How can you help your pastor or visiting pastors stay on track?
  4. How do you help others learn "God Talk?"

Questions for Preachers and Liturgists

  1. When is the last time you read Bo Giertz' The Hammer of God? Is it time to read it again?
  2. When you prepare your sermon, whom do you see? your homiletics prof, your dogmatics prof, your exegesis prof, the people God has entrusted to your care?
  3. Do you worry about what people might say about your sermon or about what God wants to say to the people?
May God make us faithful servants and hearers of the Word.

back to top


Ministry of the LMS-USA

"The fields" of the world "are 'White unto harvest" as God moves to meet the conditions of his people in their many walks of life! That observation of our Lord pointed to the overwhelming needs of all of His Father's people, and still serves as our call to responsible Ministry everywhere! "Pray" he said, "for laborers to go into those fields!'

Pastors of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod-USA serve not only our own congregations, but minister to many others not affiliated with us. Well beyond traditional worship our pastors serve in many of the world's 'fields,' in prisons - even on death row, teaching school, in the court room, the home for troubled children, the hospital room and nursing home; counseling, welcoming new life and praying for those departing, assisting the police at a crime scene or firemen on the site of a devastating fire. We even had a chaplain at the Twin Towers disaster on 9/11 - and for weeks afterward. Probably no group our size has pastors during the normal course their day's work, doing so many jobs in the Lord's service.

Subscriptional Congregations of the LMS:
Christ Lutheran Church1080 Meilahn St., Chetek, WI
Word of God Lutheran Church6124 69th Ave., Brooklyn Park, MN
St. Matthew Lutheran Church2837 East New York St., Indianapolis, IN
St. Thomas Lutheran Church7302 Northland Drive, Stanwood, MI
Our Savior Lutheran Church5400 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN

Other Congregations Served by Pastors of the LMS:
Living Word Evang. Luth. Ch.184 Heatherdown Dr., Westerville, OH
St. James Luth. Ch (Assoc. in Min.)Woodlawn & 2nd. Ave., St. James, NY
St. John's Luth. Church (LC-MS)1115 Main Street, Cameron, WI
St. Phillip's Luth. Fellowship1124 S. Fifth St., Springfield, IL
Servant of the Shepherd Luth. Ch.103 4th Street, River Falls, WI
Sharon Evangel. Luth. (Interim Pastor)406 Almanace St., Gibsonville, NC
Trinity Lutheran ChurchP. O. Box 1003, Urbana, VA

Other Ministries Served by Pastors of the LMS:
Case Aide:Community Service Foundation of Bucks County, PA
Certified Employee Assistance Professional:St. John's Hosp., Springfield, IL
Certified Employee Assistance Professional:Luth. Social Services of Illinois
Chaplain:ACTS Retirement Life Center, North Wales, PA
Chaplain:Deerfield Correctional Center, Capon, VA
Chaplain:FBI, New York, NY
Chaplain:Police/Emergency Services, Parsippany, NJ
Chaplain:St. Brides Correctional Center, Chesapeake, VA
Chaplain:St. Peter's Hospital, Albany, NY
Chaplain:University Hospital, Stony Brook, NY
Chaplain, Dir. of Chaplaincy Services:St. Univ. of NY at Stony Brook, NY
Consultant:Kairos and Associates
Directory of Pensions and BenefitsLMS-USA
Interim Pastor
St. Hans Ministry Exchange, Inc.Venice, FL
St. Timothy Lutheran SeminaryPresident, Board, and Faculty
Supply Pastor
Vicar

back to top


Worship in Spirit & Truth
John 4:19-26

2004 Convention Closing Devotion
by Rev. Michael Vahle
Lutheran Ministerium & Synod-USA
Indianapolis, Indiana
June 27, 2004

After giving much attention this weekend to the topic of Worship, it is fitting to conclude with a saying by our Lord Jesus on the subject. To the Samaritan woman he met at the well, he said: "True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." What does this mean for us?

It means first of all that Christian worship contains Right Meaning. This woman was proud to be a Samaritan. The Samaritans were looked down upon by the Jews, for their religion was an admixture of Judaism and pagan strains introduced by Assyrian and Babylonian settlers in Palestine several centuries before. But they regarded themselves as worshipers of God: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." The Samaritans had their venerable traditions. But, to this woman and her countrymen, "religion" was not focused exclusively on Yahweh and his will. Therefore, it was founded on Wrong Meaning.

Second, Christian worship contains Right Motivation. The Samaritan woman was forward looking: "I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will tell us all things." The Samaritans had Moses, but they did not understand the moral ramifications of his Law. They had rejected the Psalms and Writings, and they had cut themselves off from four hundred years of prophecy by such giants as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others. So their comprehension of universal sin and Messiah's redemptive purpose was stunted. Like many Jews of Jesus' time, and like many people today, the woman at the well expected the Messiah not to proclaim new life, but to commend her old one-God won't care if we sacrifice on this mountain instead of Mount Zion; God won't mind that my private life follows no moral compass; God is love! To this woman and her countrymen, "religion" was based on the false expectation of self-affirmation. Therefore, it expressed Wrong Motivation.

Finally, Christian worship contains the Right Message. That message is Christ Jesus. "Spirit and truth" is more than human meanings and motivation-it is a Person. Professor Michael Reu stated, "Many people have tried to make themselves lords of the Church. But the Church knows that One alone is her Lord and King-she is glad to be his own and confesses with all her heart: 'I believe in Jesus Christ my Lord.'"1. For all its sin and shortcomings, the Old Testament nation of Israel generally, if sporadically, followed God's compass. Adam and Eve trudged out of the garden in Mesopotamia, but off towards Messiah. The Hebrews wandered from Babel towards Bethlehem under Abraham. Through Joseph's protection, Judah prepared the way for his descendant Jesus. Thus, Christ himself said in our reading that "salvation is from the Jews." The Samaritans had the title Messiah, they had expectations of Messiah, but they didn't have Messiah. Their religion had the Wrong Message.

For the LMS/USA to worship in spirit and truth, our ceremonial must not fall short after the manner of Samaritan ritual. It needs 1) the Right Meaning-faith in God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; 2) the Right Motivation-proclamation of God's Law & Gospel to convict the impenitent of their sins and console the penitent with Grace in Christ; and 3) the Right Message-Salvation by Grace alone, received through Faith alone, by means of Christ alone, as revealed in the Scriptures alone. Without these elements, worship is dead and death-giving. With them, it is alive and life-giving. Since worship is, literally, in Greek, "the work of the people," Christian service extends out from ceremonies into life at large. God grant us a consistent "spirit and truth" in all our ministrations with the Gospel. Amen.


1. Michael Reu, An Explanation of Dr. Martin Luther's Small Catechism (Dubuque, Iowa: The Wartburg Press, 1947). Copyright assigned to Augsburg Publishing House. LMS/USA edition reproduced by special permission of Augsburg Fortress, n.d.

back to top


Contact Information

The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational expression of the universal (catholic) orthodox Church on earth. It is a 'Forum by Subscription.' As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay alike. The LMS-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.

For information or to make comment contact:

President/Pastor, LMS-USA
2837 East New York St.,
Indianapolis, IN 46201

Table Talk
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728

email - revralphs@juno.com or revjse@discover-net.net

back to top