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Christian, Evangelical Worship:...The Great Sacramental Reversal

by Dr. Steven D. Paulson (Professor, Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN)

November, 2003

  1. Christian worship that is evangelical is nothing but “that our dear Lord himself speaks to us through his holy Word and we respond to him through prayer and praise” (LW 51, 333). Nothing else should ever happen there. [So Luther preached at the dedication of the Castle church in Torgau Oct 5, 1544.] Christ says, “I forgive you,” and we say, “Amen.” A little child knows this. photo 	of Dr. Steven D. Paulson True worship depends upon getting a trustworthy word from God. You are at his mercy in that regard. So what exactly does our dear Lord say to you when he speaks? “In the former days, in many and various ways, God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets, but in these latter days he has spoken to us by the Son” (Hebrews 1:1). God who is extravagantly rich in his grace has given you the following specific words for your worship (that is, for you to trust):
    1. First, the preached word: “Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, “was handed over to death for [y]our trespasses and was raised for [y]our justification” (Romans 4:25).
    2. Second our Lord says: “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
    3. Third Christ says, “given and shed for you for the remission of sins.”
    4. Fourth “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23)
    5. If these words were not enough, again Christ promises: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
  2. True worship requires these specific words from God that sinners cling to for life. The true Sabbath—your only “true holy relic, above all holy relics.” (Large Catechism, 3rd Commandment, 91, 399, Kolb and Wengert): “By it all the saints have themselves been made holy…all our life and work must be based on God’s Word if they are to be God-pleasing or holy… for this Word is not idle or dead, but effective and living.” Worship is God daily putting the old sinner to death and raising the new saint and to both we say: Amen!
    1. But the history of worship is the history of not trusting his word—it is always the most religious among us who run off looking for better words: producing heaps of human traditions and enthusiastic, spiritual personalities that we substitute for our Lord’s own holy word. That is, idolatry. Why? Because we don’t like God’s given words and prefer our own. Nor does the devil ever rest in this regard. One of Luther’s greatest writings on worship (commentary on Deuteronomy) highlights this temptation to false worship in the dramatic story of Baal Peor (Number 25):
      1. The Israelites were encamped at Shittim across from Jericho; while waiting instructions to go in to the promised land, they took up with the native women of Moab "These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel." (Numbers 25:2-3).
      2. God instructed Moses to hang all the chiefs of the people who led them to this. And all Moab devotees of the Baal were killed.
      3. But One Israelite decided to flout this specific word from God, because he was in love I suppose, and brought his Midianite girlfriend into the camp, "in the sight of Moses and the whole congregation."
      4. [Now if this were a Hollywood movie, everyone would first be taken aback by the foreigner in their midst, and then we would learn that she was really a great person with a funny Midianite personality, and everyone would live together in diversity and peace—just like “South Pacific”—as if worshipping all Gods together makes for peace on earth.] But this story ends differently.
      5. Phineas, Grandson of Aaron the high priest, took up a spear, "and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman, through her body. Thus the plague was stayed from the people of Israel. Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand." (Numbers 25:8-9).
    2. From this I conclude: God is serious about this worship business! God must be given his due! It is as serious as the first commandment, in which all the others are found, "Thou shalt have no other God before me." So when people go mucking with your hymnal and service book you ought to know.
      1. I also conclude that people constantly prefer something other than what God says, and inevitably in their search for better words they reverse the direction of worship—worship always becomes what we offer to God rather than what God commands and gives us. Beneficium becomes sacrificium. Or as Melanchthon once put it: we always prefer being “for” priests like the Levites—who sacrificed for sinners rather than “to” priests who stand up facing sinners and give God’s words to them (Apology XIII).
    3. God’s own direction for worship follows the line of the incarnation—from heaven down to you while you are yet sinners. Lutherans are meant to help the whole world (ecumene) get the worship direction right by hanging tightly to God’s preached words: God comes down to us in his Son, then by sending his preacher—we don’t go up to him. So we are to help distinguish what religions constantly confused: proclamation is not prayer; faith is not love, gospel is not law, a gift cannot be both given and received at the same time—and yet churches and world are all tangled up in confusion over these by pursuing their own words in worship.
    4. Lutherans should be helping the whole world and its churches, but we have grown tired of being salt and want to be the meat, grown tired of being leaven and want to be the loaf in what today is called “an ecumenical spirit.”
      1. I would much prefer starting in a different place than I do tonight, but like a doctor lancing a boil I must first do some messy work before things can get better and I can just tell you about Christ and what he has done for you. Some of the same forces in the ELCA that brought you Called to Common Mission (CCM) (and the Formula of Agreement) will soon make up their own form of blessing of same-sex unions. And again some of those same basic forces behind those two developments in our churches are now in the process of giving you a new hymnal. The number of people behind this new hymnal is small, but they are single-minded and determined to win the day by adhering to the sworn oath of the liturgical and ecumenical movements: lex orandi lex credendi—the way you pray is what you believe. “You don’t have to believe it, you just have to do it,” should sound familiar to you. “It doesn’t matter who puts his hand on you at ordination, just concentrate on your mission.” Over time the way you pray, your repeated ritual acts of liturgy produce new beliefs. CCM is already doing that with our young people, next will be the new hymnal.
      2. As the stepping-stone to a new hymnal we now have a series of books called “Renewing Worship.”
        1. These books (three of them already) are prepared by a very small group, the key members being experts who call themselves “liturgists.”
        2. These liturgists are not your normal academic types. They are prophets on a mission. They put most of us to shame for their willingness to work and sacrifice for their cause, because in their minds they are God’s own instruments to mend a broken church by instituting one eucharist in each place presided over by one authorized bishop so that when performed properly there will be one church--visible on earth as in heaven.
      3. This small group operates with three basic principles that run throughout the pinkish colored book published by the ELCA called Principles for Worship:
        1. First, multiculturalism in song and liturgy is itself “mission.”
        2. They believe they are harvesting the seeds that were sown during the “past three decades [that] have seen not only a growing ecumenical consensus, but also a deepened focus on the church’s mission to the world.” [A new movement!]
        3. They believe in what they call “a renewed understanding of the central pattern of Christian worship” (this is an unfortunate search begun in a handful of monasteries by erstwhile monks searching for the original shape of all human worship in all religions—that original shape is then presumed to be brought to its pinnacle in what is called the action of the “eucharist”).
    5. These beliefs have present and future consequences for the way you worship. Lutherans have a very clear teaching about church that is “the assembly of saints in which the gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered rightly” (CA VII). But in this new material we get new “principles” of worship like this: “Because we cannot fully comprehend the mystery of God, the language of worship on the one hand points to and evokes the God who surpasses all understanding.”[1][1] Liturgy “points to and evokes God”—my, what have we Lutherans come to? We have become peeping Toms trying to catch God in a moment of unguarded mystery while unpreached! To the contrary, we already have a clear word from God that our sins have been laid on Christ—and that is to be given for you as a promise! Worship is not pointing and evoking mystery! It declares.
      1. The authority for teaching in these Renewing Worship books is given over to what they call the “worldwide ecumenical discussion” as in Principle L-8 where they attempt to explain why we should keep baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit since so many people don’t like to say “Father” anymore: "Most church bodies", following Matthew 28, have baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Then they quote from ecumenical movement’s Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document: “While a worldwide ecumenical discussion is now underway about such language [apparently with the outcome in some doubt!], we have no other name in which to baptize than the historic and ecumenically received name.” By what authority do we baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
        1. Scripture is gone; your confessions vanish—when someone questions the administration of the sacrament what authority do you call up? The worldwide ecumenical discussion now under way, and in the meantime we do “what most churches are doing”!
        2. The problems in this material are like Abraham going out on a starry night and numbering the stars!
      2. We cannot name them all, but the main problem with the ELCA’s Renewing Worship movement is that all these principles are built into one document that surpasses all others in authority: The Use of the Means of Grace statement accepted by the 1997 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA. It’s argument is more pointed and directly opposed to the Confessions:
        1. The Use of the Means of Grace begins with a quotation from the Apology XIII (in almost direct parallel with the introduction to the LBW): We believe we have the duty not to neglect any of the rites and ceremonies instituted in Scripture, whatever their number. . . .”
        2. “Not neglecting any rites and ceremonies” (Principle 1) is a phrase that is then taken out of context to assert (Principle 2) that the Word and sacraments are “given to the church.” The church then must see that they are “not degraded by sin,” (Background 2C) and so exercises an authority over the sacraments: “As a church in this time, we seek to give and receive God’s Word and sacraments as full and reliable signs of Christ.” [The same thing can’t be received and given at the same time! God alone gives his word, the church receives it, and this is hardly “signs,” but Christ himself.]
        3. Then we watch the given commands and promises of God fall like dominoes before the church’s own vaunted authority: Any changes in worship have to be for the purpose of “unity amidst diversity,”[2][2] not for “merely antiquarian or legalistic interests” [Goodbye Reformation and good riddance!] (Principle 4, Background 4A).
        4. Then they give what they call the basic shape of liturgy in two parts: Part I: Word “read and preached” and Part II: “sacraments celebrated” (Principle 6) There is that word that turns the worship direction backward: from us to God. They are not longer given, but “celebrated.”
        5. Principle 34: Nevertheless the two parts “form one act of worship” –so liturgy is a whole mystery action that we do.
        6. Principle 36 introduces the term “eucharist” “to see that the whole meal is a great thanksgiving for creation and for creation’s redemption in Jesus Christ.”
        7. Principle 40: Introduces a priest presiding at Holy Communion as a “witness that this sacrament is a celebration of the Church, serving, its unity…”and proclaims the Great Thanksgiving” (not Christ’s last will and testament).
        8. Which finally leads to the purpose of this whole exercise: the holy grail of the Renewing Worship plan that they believe will re-unite the church into a visible whole: Principle 43: “The biblical words of institution declare God’s action and invitation. They are set with the context of the Great Thanksgiving. This Eucharistic prayer proclaims and celebrates the gracious word of God in creation, redemption, and sanctification.”[3][3]
        9. The only thing that was missing from this worship laid out by the liturgical and ecumenical movement was to rejoin the historic episcopate so that we could become closer to the basic teaching: one Eucharist, one bishop, one church. There you have the foundation for your renewing worship materials.
      3. But if this is not bad enough, we have two flanks for this fight, not one:
        1. This liturgical movement that has separated from the Confessions, with its blessing of water before baptism, the required eucharistic prayer for joint communion services with Episcopalians, affirmations of baptism, removal of Lutheran catechetical hymns and the piling up of human traditions like the oil, the ever-present laying on of hands, and metaphors galore where once stood the name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
        2. But it is worse yet; on the other side of us we have the host of American religions and the corrosive melting pot of culture that seeks God inside yourself on your various spiritual journeys. They do not want a preacher; they want a personal, spiritual guide with visible gifts. Spiritualism like this wants no baked God, it rejects baptism, and does not want to repent and be absolved, it rather seeks what it thinks are higher and better words than Christ gave us, swallowing the Spirit feathers and all—it seeks its own self that it expresses to the outside world and demands that others worship their right to do so. [Luther rightly called it Fanaticism]
    6. With a whole host of problems on each flank what do we do? Just what the earliest Lutherans did: we preserve the Reformation and unleash the Gospel by using the Small Catechism. We do what Luther saw was necessary for his poorly taught German churches: “First, the German service needs a plain and simple, fair and square catechism.”[4][4] Well, so does the American worship service. We sometimes observe that the Reformation was preserved by the catechism, and so it was and so it must be today. Though these forces are great, they are no greater—maybe even less—than those faced by the Reformers. Despair is not allowed, since God’s word alone will stand against them—even though we have three forces seeking to destroy true worship and the teaching of it in the catechism.
      1. The self-named liturgical movement and ecumenical movement have studiously removed the catechism from your hymnal in order to make worship no longer an “ear house,” that hears the law and gospel in public proclamation, but instead makes it an “eye house”—a koinonia mystery cult called simply: “the eucharist.” It doesn’t want you to have the Apostle’s Creed as God’s work alone given “for you” in the present. They want to join your work and God’s.
      2. At the same time, the American spiritualists have removed your catechism from worship because they don’t like categorical preaching and sacraments—because they leave no room for the free will to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Fanatics hate the sacraments and so remove them for purpose that they call getting “seekers” in or so that worship is not such a “downer.”
      3. Our culture has also worked to remove your catechism because it hates the Ten Commandments.
    7. To combat these enemies in their own day, the Reformers did two things with worship:
      1. They took out noxious elements that couldn’t possibly stand because they moved in the wrong direction—from us up to God in the mode of sacrificing and by dissolving the word of God into our own work as church (this happens when the words being given by God end up as sacrifice, thanksgiving that we make to remember God, or an action of the church mystically uniting us with God). So they removed praying to saints, encrusting baptism with all sorts of unnecessary and dangerous symbols, and most importantly the canon of the mass or eucharistic prayer wherever it buried Christ and the publication of his last will and testament.
        1. The Lutheran Churches should never forget what Luther did when he first made the liturgy a “local option”–for there the canon of the mass was removed, and when it was gone, so went the papacy. At the same time it made the freedom regarding worship and liturgy an accomplished fact—gone were ordo and structures or “patterns of worship” that are supposedly done in all places and times.
        2. At the same time, local traditions all must be tested—“weigh it in the pan of God’s Word,” Luther said. That means everything in worship is tested as to whether it brings home the down-to-earth gift of our crucified and risen Lord and makes possible the faithful “Amen,” to him. Where traditions go in the wrong direction and oppose our chief article they must go. And whenever traditions, however, venerable are required, so too they must go. That means, whenever liturgical “may-be’s” (human traditions) are turned into “must-be’s” they cease to be free (adiaphora).[5][5]
        3. Then the Reformers did another thing even more important: they put in the catechism—in prayer and song and direct proclamation to sinners that makes the justifying faith. They preached the faith, and then they taught it that it might be learned and retained. Our constant re-translating has ruined our memory. Our hymnals have grown too large so that we might represent every possible group and belief under the umbrella of the ELCA, but they have removed direct, catechetical hymns, especially Luther’s. They also remove any reference to your Confessions, including the Small Catechism. Why? Because such confessional unity is viewed as the obstacle to visible union with other churches, liturgy must unite by expunging confessional particularity! Instead they put slogans: consensus of the first five centuries, historic episcopate, and “ecumenical consensus.”
      2. Now to glimpse how this is done, we may start with the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer:

        “Hallowed be thy name: God’s name certainly is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that we may keep it holy.” How does this happen? God’s name is hallowed whenever his Word is rightly taught and we as children of God live in harmony with it. Help us to do this, heavenly Father! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to the Word of God dishonors God’s name among us, Keep us from doing this, heavenly Father!”

      3. True worship requires a prior, first and final word of God. Without which you endlessly seek vainly inside yourself for God. But we have such a first word from God: “I am the Lord your God,” This Lord says two things:
        1. You shall have no other God before me—demanding complete trust in his word--and so this commandment includes all the others. [Law]
        2. But this same God who demands so much also gives all, and so we have our Creed: “I believe that Jesus Christ—true God, Son of the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary—is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, saved me at great cost from sin, death and the power of the devil—not with silver or gold, but with his holy and precious blood and his innocent suffering and death.” [Gospel: The faith we have not, he gives—at great cost to himself, but declared freely to the ungodly he chooses by the proclamation itself.]
    8. This simple starting place for true worship reverses the direction of all human “patterns” as liturgists call them.
      1. The direction of all worship is from God downward through the means of preached word and sacraments. We call it—the sacramental reversal.
      2. In every way we resist seeking better words, especially by multiplying of “metaphors,” creation of our own creeds, the flowering of ever new symbols, blessings of everything that moves in the new ritual de jour—laying on of hands, (which you are supposed to see as having many, many uses, not only for passing on the historic episcopate)!
  3. God’s word is not only first, it comes in several specific, given, historical forms, and so does our little “Amen,” our response of simple trust.
    1. God speaks to us presently, directly, publicly (sometimes even individually), through the reading of Scripture, preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and absolution. The benefit of each is Christ himself as our righteousness apart from works of the law, that means: When worship takes this direction, Christ comes to forgive your sin—and remember where there is forgiveness of sin there is also life and salvation!
      1. Our “Amen,” our clinging to this word comes out in spoken prayer, song, praise, thanksgiving, confession and petition (asking God for help). In these we:
        1. Thank Christ for his benefits.
        2. Confess our unworthiness.
        3. And ask for more grace, more grace, more and more and more.
      2. By speaking the first and final word—God creates us anew in faith itself; that means his word creates the church. [The Word alone creates churches. Baptism is never initiation into Church, nor do we “renew it” with our vows, nor does the event of eucharist make the church as a “ritual action.”]
    2. Preaching
      1. Enthusiasts of either the Roman or American spiritualists sort seek God within themselves (or the church) rather than in God’s external, preached word. You must rather come to worship to receive these gifts from God. Liturgism’s current attempt seeks to make the Lord’s Supper the highest form of “celebration”—preaching serving as only an entrance to this “feast.” Instead, proclamation must come first, in its oral, public form as public absolution of the repentant, public preaching, and in its form in the sacraments themselves: Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
      2. That is why Luther once said, “To correct these abuses, know first of all that a Christian congregation should never gather together without the preaching of God’s Word and prayer, no matter how briefly…”[6][6]
      3. Preaching is nothing else than God’s word in human words. It is sacramental in the sense of having an actual, red-blooded human using his or her voice to speak words into the ears, according to Christ’s promise: “he who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16).
        1. Not just anything any preacher says is God’s word: The preacher must discern the law and gospel and not commingle them, for this reason preaching is always from the Bible text.
          1. In the law God sets out what is required of us, and what he holds against us—how he judges us. We hold the Ten Commandments ever near and help the flock know plainly God’s most salutary doctrine of life.
          2. The Gospel then raises us to new life from the condemnation of death by witnessing to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for sinners. The Holy Spirit makes these preached words effective in the heart where and when he wills, “for I cannot by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts and sanctified and kept me in true faith.”
            1. The Gospel in a nutshell always needs a giver—a proclaimer doing what Luther called the right application of the pronoun “for you.”[7][7]
    3. Baptism
      1. Our catechism teaches as the Bible does, “Baptism is nothing else than the Word of God in water.” It is God’s act for us in which he delivers us from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what he has promised. The promise is the thing! “Shall be saved.”
      2. It is, of course, witnessed to by the community of believers, but is not initiation into the group of the holy either by magical rites [why we do not bless the water] or adults making vows of fidelity to God.
      3. Baptism is never over and done with, but needs no “renewal,” instead it means “that our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity.”
      4. Use it, not renew it. Bring forward the gifts of baptism. It is not past oriented, but future—not wiping the slate clean but the object to which you cling in times of trouble so to cling to God himself for you.
    4. The Lord’s Supper
      1. It is nothing else but the Word of God in bread and wine. Faith feasts on this promise “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” For there Christ forgives your sin.
      2. It is not eucharist—not our celebration that makes it what it is. That direction is wrong! The words of Christ at the Last Supper cannot be confused with prayer up to God.
      3. Instead, the Lord’s Supper is Christ’s last will and testament, in which the maker of the will is Christ himself, who names his estate: “the forgiveness of sins,” and his heirs “given and shed for you”–who are after all his very betrayers. He also bestows this in the promise itself: “Given and shed for you,” beneficium, not sacrificium. With the seal of bread and wine. The direction is always from God to us, the act of his giving, his promising to sinners. Not prayer.
    5. The Absolution (or Confession and Forgiveness)
      1. Uses the keys of the kingdom given by God so that in human voice God’s forgiveness is given to sinners. Absolution brings forward the gifts of baptism, the Christian life being the daily return to the first promise of baptism.
      2. The declaration of forgiveness is the real thing in absolution by which God works repentance and does not count the trespass. The word accomplishes what it says—ending the sinner and creating the saint.
      3. And so we do not despise this promise, but give it and use it—publicly and privately,
      4. We do not think of starting our service here as “negative,” or “premature,” nor is it a mere prelude to the Lord’s Supper as if you must be made holy before receiving communion.
  4. For all these things that make worship we need an external preacher, outside ourselves bringing the external word.
    1. The ministry is instrumental in God giving us his words—the instrument of God to give these words. It is not part of our prayer or sacrifice of praise to God. This confusion makes “for” priests rather than “to” priests who believe they are mediators who sacrifice on our behalf—and is the great problem for worship life of the CCM and romantic liturgical movement—for they cannot distinguish our prayer from God’s proclamation and God’s word is lost in a fog of ritual holiness that is nothing more than a sect making its own form of worship.
    2. So the true church created by God’s word is commissioned by God to witness in word and deed that salvation is by Christ alone by giving the gospel in oral proclamation and the sacraments (CA 5). This is the right and duty of all believers (the priesthood of all believers). But to assist and enable the community in this proclamation there is the office of the pastor whose particular calling is the public proclamation of God’s word in preaching and administration of the sacraments (CA 14).
  5. Finally, after all this, we come to Faithful Response to the Words: Our Amen.
    1. God commands us to pray and promises to hear our prayers. Prayer is nothing but opening your sack wide and asking for help, calling out to God in expectation of his interceding graciously on your behalf (even with sighs and groans too deep for words, Romans 8). Thanksgiving delights in God’s benefits already given in Christ, and so waits with great anticipation for seeing what we now have in faith.
    2. Offerings and “thanksgivings” of prayer do not complete a great ritual circle or appease God’s anger—they are fruits of faith meant to help others.
  6. So here is my plea: Lutherans, let’s get the direction right in worship, and refuse the religious sounding innovations of the Renewing Worship movement. The church and world cannot survive attempting to worship a mysterious God that is not preached by coaxing him out by our thanksgiving. So let us return to our catechism and from it learn again how God has come down to get you while your are ungodly. Ludwig Helmbold put it in this catechetical hymn (1594):
    1. Lord God, keep us for evermore
      in catechism doctrine pure—
      that through your Luther is made known
      for simple youth to make their own.
    2. The Ten Commandment here we learn,
      repent of sin, and so discern
      to live by faith in you alone,
      the Father, Son, and Spirit, one.
    3. Our Father, source of heavenly grace
      we pray to you before your face,
      that we (baptized) may come to be
      fulfilled in Christ eternally.
    4. And when we fall, we seek relief
      and make confession, with belief,
      and take the Body and the Blood.
      Amen. God grant our end be good.[8][8]


[1] Principle L-5, Principles for Worship, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2002.

[2] Changes in sacraments should be for “unity amidst diversity,” not for “merely antiquarian or legalistic interests” Principle 4, Background 4A, Principles for Worship.

[3] In application 43A: “The full action, from dialogue through the Lord’s Prayer, including the proclamation of the words of institution, is called the Great Thanksgiving. Our congregations, synods, and churchwide organization are encouraged to use these patterns of thanksgiving.” The reference is to the Apology again, article 24. 76—not actually printed out, but here is the full quotation: “There are also statements about thanksgiving [among the Fathers], like that very beautiful statement of Cyprian [pseudo-Cyprian] concerning those who receive the sacrament in godly fashion: ‘He says, In returning thanks to the Giver for such an abundant blessing, piety divides its thanks between what has been given and what has been forgiven.’ That is, piety focuses on what has been given and what has been forgiven; it compares the greatness of God’s blessings with the greatness of our ills, our sin and our death, and it gives thanks. From this the term ‘Eucharist” arose in the church. Nor is the ceremony itself a giving of thanks ex opere operato that can be applied for the benefit of others in order to merit the forgiveness of sins for them, etc. or in order to free the souls of the dead. The theory that a ceremony could somehow benefit either the worshiper or anyone else without faith conflicts with the righteousness of faith.” But the use in Means of Grace above misses that this thanksgiving either comes after or is simply the whole “ceremony.” “Remembrance” is not like seeing a play. It is not the “eucharistic prayer,” as it has come to be used in modern liturgical renewal. In fact that is what “conflicts with the righteousness of faith,” because it gets the direction wrong.

[4] LW 53, 64.

[5] But whenever local traditions and liturgies meet the criteria—free and true to the gospel—then they should not be altered by anyone without the consent of the congregation using them.

[6] Concerning Public Worship, Leisnig

[7] So, Luther’s catechetical hymn “Preserve us, Lord, by thy dear Word, from Turk and pope defend us, [perhaps we could update, fanatic and liturgist]…. (Translation from Robert Wisdom 1560, in Leaver, 397).

[8] Her Gott, erhalt uns für and für for Teaching Children the Catechism from Ludwig Helmbold (1594) (trans. Robin Leaver) In Robin Leaver, “Luther’s Catechism Hymns,” in Lutheran Quarterly XI, 4 Winter 1997, 405-6.