Sunday, May 4, 2014

Back with the LCMS!

So, my experiment with Grace Lutheran Church, an independent Lutheran church, did not go as well as I thought. Therefore, I have returned to the LCMS.

First, here are the things about Grace that I enjoyed:

a. Eucharist at every service
b. Sprinkling of holy water at special services.
c. Wood carved design of their nave and sanctuary
d. Bach Cantata Vespers once a month (even though I barely went)
e. They recite the Nicene Creed exactly how the Roman Catholics used to recite it before they changed it
f. Most of the congregation was very welcoming 
g. They have Stephen Ministry

Second, the reasons why I was not happy enough at Grace to stay are the following:

a. I missed the Anglican-style liturgy commonplace at St. John and other LCMS (Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod) congregations
b. The congregation is so big that I did not always feel needed. Appreciated, yes. Needed, no.
c. While the music directors at St. John, especially Paul Lindblad and Pastor Payton,  knew how much my hymns meant to me, they were willing to work with me and even allowed for some of my works to be used in church services. They were just proud that I had such desire, and my efforts were not beneath their education and experience. I had been sending my hymns to Grace for years even before I joined, but none of them were used or even taken seriously.
d. Out of the three pastors at Grace, I only received closeness and warmth from one of them. One, a decent clergyman, was always so busy, and the other one...while she gave good sermons, I felt no love coming from her. Cannot elaborate any more than least not publicly.
e. Grace, while independent, is getting too close to ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America). While the congregation voted against the use of ELCA's corrupted hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, to placate those who wanted Grace to be independent by politics only, they not only used service settings from ELW from time to time during the summer; they implemented a change in the service regularly. When the pastor says, in the Prologue of the Communion service, "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God," LCMS, WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod), and NALC (North American Lutheran Church) congregations typically say, "It is right to give Him thanks and praise." Grace and ELCA congregations say, "It is right to give OUR thanks and praise." Yes, they made this phrase gender neutral. If the word "Him" offends feminazis and people who don't believe in gender so much, why didn't they just use the Roman Catholic response: "It is right and just," or the old Lutheran response, "It is meet and right so to do?" What were they thinking? The phrase they chose sounds too awkward. When it comes to ELCA, this is only the tip of the iceberg. In their hymnal, they do not even say Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since some people find it more important to impose their personal agendas than to preserve the infallacy and superiority of the Holy Scriptures, they instead say Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. No, sorry, but Jesus said to baptize in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and He did not call God his Creator (of course, that would suggest that Jesus was created, which is blasphemy). He called God his Father. Not only this, but many ELCA pastors openly stand for things, and post them online, that are immoral and unbecoming of a pastor, let alone a congregant. One pastor shamelessly posted online, for billions to see, having had worked for Planned Parenthood. That the leaders of ELCA see what their pastors are standing for, out in the open, and not call for an ultimatum to repent or be defrocked, I have lost all respect for ELCA and want nothing to do with them--until they repent. I apologize to friends who belong to ELCA, but this is how I feel. Also, accept for a few occasions, any guest pastors they had came from the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Chicago--an ELCA seminary. If Grace needed a new pastor, they would request one from ELCA. I know the senior pastor wants to keep Grace more "progressive" than LCMS, yet more doctrinally and historically sound than ELCA, yet with the changed climate of ELCA, how can he ascertain this when the only pastors they have considered are ELCA? They would be able to be confident in keeping GRace stuck in the middle, so to speak, if they would consider inviting NALC pastors to speak, work with NALC charities, if they have any yet, and putting Grace on NALC rosters for when they need a new pastor. After all, while the senior pastor is a great man, he will eventually retire like all people, if they are so fortunate, usually do. Then, they will need to look for a new pastor. If they look within ELCA, it is highly probable that the pastor they choose will stand for ungodly things, causing a possible split, driving the more moderate members away, and then Grace would look just like the stereotypical ELCA church.  

f. Whenever I went to Bible study, they began right on the button, and when they started the lesson, they shut the door. It was very embarrassing to open the door and walk in, gaining everyone's attention, even though I was only 30 seconds late. At St. John, the door to the Bible study room is typically left open so than anyone could saunter in unnoticed. 

The bottom line: as much as I wanted it to be, and as much as many of the people there wanted it to be for me, Grace just was not my home. I tried to be involved, within reason, but it just did not feel the same. 

In closing, I am going to quote something from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that I learned the hard way:

"One who wants more than what Christ has established does not want Christian brotherhood…. Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream…. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world…. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial."

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