This past week, my wife and I attended a class called “Worship and Theology” taught by Richard Resch of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was very impressed by the class. We spent three days discussing Luther’s theology of worship, reviewing the history of Christian hymnody and discussing how that relates to our situation in the church today. It was great to be reminded that Luther held a very high view of music and that he used his hymnody to teach the faith. One of the distinct characteristics of Lutheran worship is that everything we do in the services proclaims Christ. Every hymn, every note played by the musicians, and every word out of the Pastor’s mouth is a part of the preaching and proclamation.
The highlight of the class was starting and ending every day by praying one of the prayer offices together in the beautiful, acoustically live sanctuary of St. Paul Lutheran in Austin, TX. We sang our way through Matins, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline and it was wonderful.
We came back from the class on Thursday evening. The very next day I was asked if I would like to teach a Sunday school class during September and October. I think I am very fortunate to have just gone to a class on the very subject (Lutheran worship and hymnody) that I would like to teach. I have been mulling over what to call the class, and yesterday Rebecca suggested “The Gifts Christ Freely Gives”, which also happens to be the title of a wonderful new hymn in Lutheran Service Book. During September and October, my class will be looking at the Lutheran identity in worship and the part that the congregation’s song plays in that.