Liturgy as Pastoral Care
"Notes from the Bench"
Thursday, 17 May 2012 13:04

Dear Friends in Christ,

My life flows on in endless song; Above earth's lamentation, I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn That hails a new creation; Thro' all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing; It finds an echo in my soul--How can I keep from singing?

This hymn, with music by Baptist minister Robert Wadsworth Lowry and text by Pauline T, is one of my favorite hymns.  I love how the author finds hope in a crummy world through music.  Sometimes all you can do when the chips are down is to sing a tune.  Martin Luther understood this concept and this is why I think the Lutheran church is known as the singing church.  This week, in honor of our Seminarian Tim Johansen's graduation from seminary, I'd like to share an excerpt with you from his final paper from his class on Luther's Catechism and the use of liturgy in pastoral care. 

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"I am the True Vine"
"Notes from the Bench"
Thursday, 03 May 2012 10:00

Dear Friends in Christ,

The Gospel reading this week, John 15:1-8, is one of my favorites because it was my confirmation verse.  When I was young confirmation student we had to give final speeches/sermons based on an assigned portion of Luther's Small Catechism (mine was The Lord's Supper) and then design a banner to be hung in the sanctuary based on a bible verse of our choosing.  (Perhaps this is where my love of crafting and pontificating began).  This week all of the music was chosen based on the themes of our gospel reading.

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Contemporary Music?
"Notes from the Bench"
Thursday, 26 April 2012 14:04

Dear Friends in Christ,


Greetings from the "Motherland".  Last week I mentioned how much I loved the hymn 'For the Beauty of the Earth'.  Well my friends, I'm living it.  Goodbye Big Apple and hello Big Sky country!   A common question that I receive is "What do you think of contemporary music?".  Personally, I'm for all sorts and types of music as long as there is integrity to the tune and text.  I realize that this is a bit objective and certainly based on what you know.  But, how do you know if you like something unless you try new things?  Sure, I spent many of my formative music years studying the heck out of 'classical music' and I only grew up listening to 'classical music'.  Joan Baez and Paul Simon were as wild as we got in our house.  However, for many years as a professional singer most of my professional success came from singing and premiering new works.  I loved working with living composers and discovering new ways of combining notes to make melodies.  Sure, I sang my fair share of interesting pieces but the process was fun.  As far as contemporary church music in undergrad when I was working in campus ministry we always had contemporary worship services and Sunday nights at the local church I'd help lead jazz services.  I'm all for trying new things to keep life spicy while maintaining tradition and why not try new things in church?  What's the worst that will happen?!  

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