Author Topic: Unity and the Means of Grace  (Read 30107 times)

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #315 on: November 27, 2010, 05:42:54 PM »

Again I appeal to the standard we have acknowledged in our ordination - which clearly spells out where our unity is found.

Does this apply to Lutherans not in the LCMS?

Pax, Steven+
Who has been living in impaired communion within the ELCA for several years.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #316 on: November 27, 2010, 06:20:06 PM »
The Sacrament does not "create unity." 

Then how do you understand Paul's words: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." (1 Cor 10:17)

The Didache uses the image that just as the wheat was gathered into one loaf, so also may we be gathered together as one.

I see in these early Christian writings a greater emphasis on the unity created by the sacrament than the forgiveness of sins. Neither Paul, nor The Didache talk about sins being forgiven in the sacrament. I'm not saying that Luther was wrong to emphasize forgiveness in the Small Catechism, but that I see additional benefits given in scriptures and the early church. The unity of believers being one of those benefits.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #317 on: November 27, 2010, 06:35:27 PM »
There are many circumstances in which Pastors find themselves inheriting practices in their congregations which are not of their own choosing.  There are always choices about which areas urgently need to be addressed, which can wait, and which are battles postponed to a day well beyond the present moment...

Example, both parishes I have served did not have a weekly Eucharist (but monthly).  In both parishes I indicated early on where we would be headed, that I would not arbitrarily make this decision when to begin a weekly Eucharist (though I was well within my authority as the Minister of Word and Sacrament to do so) but would spend time teaching why... within six months the people began asking me more and more when will we have the Sacrament weekly and then we made the move...

Example, neither parish I served used the chalice -- only individual cups.  In both parishes I told them that I respected their previous practice but just as I would not tell them they could not commune under individual cups, neither could they refuse me the use of the chalice.  From day one I communed myself under the chalice and offered the chalice at the same time as the individual cups so that the distribution would not be confused and families split up...

Example, both parishes I have served had women reading the lessons before I came.  One had the female lectors vest in albs and the other did not.  I spent my time working to remove those who were poor readers and improving the reading skills and lector skill of thsoe remaining... I am not particularly enamored with  lay lectors but the practice does not bother me to the point of ending it... so I have allowed it continue without expanding the practice but actually increasing the number of male lectors and working to make sure that those who read, read well...

Finally an aside... I have spent my whole life in Missouri and have yet to understand what in the sam hill elders are... They are not presbyteroi as Scripture teaches, they are elected by the congregation and I do not have a clue where that comes from.. They are constitutionally give the role of assisting the Pastor but the actual responsibilities are vague and some vague enough to impinge upon those assigned to me as the Pastor...  I use them as they have been used in the past but I think this ia Missouri lex in search of a ratio and I would welcome a whole new discussion on this point alone... So I find it strange that the Deaconness would find other lay (maybe particularly female) lectors objectionable but elders are fine reading and assisting in the Lord's Supper... The worst situation is when elders think and act like the supreme court of the congregation... so where (other than anecdotal history) did the elders idea come from and what really are they supposed to be?
Fr Larry Peters
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Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #318 on: November 27, 2010, 08:55:20 PM »
I love my elders.  I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be a pastor without their brotherly counsel and guidance.  They are the voice of the congregation to me and they are my voice in the congregation.  When I come up with a REALLY STUPID IDEA that I'm all excited about, they are the ones who are perfect at throwing some cold water in my face to make me see how it would be received in the congregation.  When I need counsel about how to handle a difficult situation, I freely turn to them and ask their thoughts.  I don't always do what they think is best (and they're VERY gracious about not saying:  "I told you so") nor do they expect me to.  We don't operate with them as the boss or them as the pastor's lackeys.  We operate with them as first and foremost men who can give the pastor counsel and who assist in him whatever way he asks.  I think old Schmemann was right that such a development is inevitable given the conciliar nature of the Church herself.  What was originally the Episcopus and his Presbyters, becomes, when the Presbyter is standing in the place of the Episcopus in a local parish, the council of Elders that surround, uphold and support his ministry.  

By the bye, the German was Vorsteher, and so less danger of confusion with Aelteste.  
« Last Edit: November 27, 2010, 09:01:18 PM by Weedon »

Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #319 on: November 27, 2010, 09:05:13 PM »
Could be one of those "both-ands," not so, Brian?  Forgiveness received unites?  Common Union?  Union with Christ who forgives, inhabits, strengthens? 

A question to those who absent themselves is whether they believe someone has sinned and needs to confess that sin and repent of it before they're going to that altar.  If that's the case, then the responsibility for saying that belongs to the person offended, the one who's not coming to the Meal for that reason.  So the other person can in the estimation of the one not attending be made whole again. 

It just kind of goes back and forth like that, but really, I don't know that there's a change in the wind among the pastors in Missouri who are not coming.

Dave Benke

Weedon

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #320 on: November 27, 2010, 09:05:58 PM »
Fr. Tibbetts,

A most interesting question.  Historically our vows were pretty much the same.  I think that's slightly changed, but I suspect that you and I were ordained under rites that were kissing cousins.  In what sense does Lutheranism recognize a ministerium that transcends Synodical/denominational boundaries due to a common "ordering" under the Lutheran Symbols?

Charles_Austin

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #321 on: November 27, 2010, 09:31:09 PM »
One of my interim parishes was former LCMS and had "elders" in the LCMS mode. They were immensely helpful in a dozen ways. The now quite common practice of having a "mutual ministry committee" is sort of parallel; but I think you need to have the "elder" thing in the congregation's DNA to make it really work. I was glad to have them.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #322 on: November 27, 2010, 09:44:28 PM »
In one congregation I had dealings with the Board of Elders had an elder in charge of each area of ministry, one was the trustee, another was in charge of stewardship, another evangelism, etc.  In effect they were the church council and there was no Board of Elders.

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Karl Hess

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #323 on: November 27, 2010, 09:48:25 PM »

We should be able to come together (in a process like Koinonia) and with prayer, deep study of the scriptures and frank conversation, work out a consensus. Most importantly, we must urge everyone in the Synod to conform to the consensus position, or leave the Synod. The most important step is the most difficult.

My congregation uses lay readers (including myself) who are exclusively male. Yet we do not teach that female readers are contrary to scripture, we just don't use them.

If consensus is reached that female lectors are acceptable, and if other congregations regularly use female lectors, than we should start using them as well as an expression of unity within our churches. This might be difficult or controversial in our congregation, but we should do this in the name of unity and clarity of confession. Those that cannot tolerate the consensus and find it antiscriptural should leave at this point.

The principle: various LCMS congregations should submit in love and conform themselves to the consensus position in all areas of belief and practice, so that we can truly walk together in unimpaired fellowship and joyfully celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar together. Those who find the consensus position unacceptable should leave the church body.

BUT. This consensus must be arrived at by including all opinions (in the beginning) and always submit itself to the authority of Scripture and confession. We have tried to arrive at this kind of unity through the democratic, parlimentary procedures of the Synod in Convention and have failed. I think Koinonia could be a better process.



I agree that this is what needs to happen.  We have to strive for unity in everything that is taught by God's Word, and not allow each pastor to do his own thing.

Karl Hess

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #324 on: November 27, 2010, 09:49:54 PM »
And if the consensus, or however you reach decision, is - no women lectors, no women acolytes, no women crucifers - good luck on getting the congregations that permit such to stop doing it. I'll be watching to see how that happens.

No doubt praying fervently for us.

FrPeters

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #325 on: November 28, 2010, 06:34:49 AM »
I see I have not explained my point... I am not disputing the value or benefit of a council of people to work in a variety of ways that assist the Pastor, my question relates to one of theological source and justification for the term "elder" (which has but name in common with the presbyteroi of the NT) and how we in Missouri use this term to relate to a special spiritual tribunal of counselors to assist the Pastor...  It is this part of it that I have always found confusing.  How did we come by them?  What spiritual authority do they possess and by what right?  Why do we grant them privilege or right for some things because they are elders as opposed to the Church Council?  For example, assisting in the distribution?
Fr Larry Peters
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John_Hannah

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #326 on: November 28, 2010, 06:43:36 AM »
I see I have not explained my point... I am not disputing the value or benefit of a council of people to work in a variety of ways that assist the Pastor, my question relates to one of theological source and justification for the term "elder" (which has but name in common with the presbyteroi of the NT) and how we in Missouri use this term to relate to a special spiritual tribunal of counselors to assist the Pastor...  It is this part of it that I have always found confusing.  How did we come by them?  What spiritual authority do they possess and by what right?  Why do we grant them privilege or right for some things because they are elders as opposed to the Church Council?  For example, assisting in the distribution?

I suspect that it is a borrowing from the Presbyterians. No it is not strictly Presbyterian, but it is close.
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Harvey_Mozolak

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #327 on: November 28, 2010, 06:45:27 AM »
valid points...  we too retain such an office, Elders...  sometimes I have thought them to be those who would be pastors to the parish if all the pastors in the world were wiped out by some kind of clerical-plague (now there's a thought)... but should there not be more than a simple election to that post, say some requirement for experience in the parish, not a novice in the Faith, some training beyond how to hold the chalice, some expectation for participation in Bible Study, some commitment to confidentiality in the spiritual matters and other things of the parish... and those are difficult things to constitutionalize much less do...  they also perform something of liaison with the pastor when people feel they cannot deal directly with the pastor but can with another lay person (perhaps a sad instance but nevertheless sometimes a reality)…  a responsibility for the pastor and his/her family is another of the areas of their purview in our parish….   Harvey Mozolak
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Dave Benke

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #328 on: November 28, 2010, 07:48:54 AM »
In terms of titles, I prefer "deacon" to "elder," with all the biblical and historical warrants.  My parish has both, constitutionally and in life.  Out here the "Vorsteher" was the head usher in the old Teutonic original parishes - Herr Pastor took care of the front of the church, and the Vorsteher took care of the back.  My examination of parish constitutions finds elders a later add-on, conected to some signal from on high or widely used program - the Don Abdon governance comes to mind.   

In several parishes of my knowledge through the years, maybe because of pastoral vacancies, and sometimes at the instigation of a pastor who wanted to do away with more typical governance, the elders became an office carrying out the pastoral office and the congregation's governance.   Not advising the pastor, but either doing the work of the pastor or telling the pastor what to do.  Not elders with terms of office, but with lifetime tenure.  Not eldes with the concurrence of the pastor, but elders of whom the pastor was one - not necessarily the head elder either.  Elders who were the church council; in order to be a building trustee or a Sunday School superintendent one must be an elder.  Constitutionally conveyed, these were/are called by those leaders "the biblical constitution."  In these cases, the elders absconded with the pastoral office as well as the parish governance.   With lifetime tenure, the secular parallel is a "self-perpetuating board," or as we know them, an old-boys board.  Fr. Peters may have a couple of these in his distant memory.  I have them as current events. 

Take selection of hymns - the pastor in those cases cannot select a hymn the elders don't want.  Take selection of hymnals - the pastor cannot utilize LSB (in a Missouri parish) because the elders believe it to be doctrinally deficient.  Of course those are the less serious instances.    The use of biblical terminology, and terminology that was designated for the pastoral office rather than the diaconal office, is what is attractive and can be deadly.

Dave Benke

John_Hannah

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Re: Unity and the Means of Grace
« Reply #329 on: November 28, 2010, 07:59:22 AM »
In terms of titles, I prefer "deacon" to "elder," with all the biblical and historical warrants.  My parish has both, constitutionally and in life.  Out here the "Vorsteher" was the head usher in the old Teutonic original parishes - Herr Pastor took care of the front of the church, and the Vorsteher took care of the back.  My examination of parish constitutions finds elders a later add-on, conected to some signal from on high or widely used program - the Don Abdon governance comes to mind.   

In several parishes of my knowledge through the years, maybe because of pastoral vacancies, and sometimes at the instigation of a pastor who wanted to do away with more typical governance, the elders became an office carrying out the pastoral office and the congregation's governance.   Not advising the pastor, but either doing the work of the pastor or telling the pastor what to do.  Not elders with terms of office, but with lifetime tenure.  Not eldes with the concurrence of the pastor, but elders of whom the pastor was one - not necessarily the head elder either.  Elders who were the church council; in order to be a building trustee or a Sunday School superintendent one must be an elder.  Constitutionally conveyed, these were/are called by those leaders "the biblical constitution."  In these cases, the elders absconded with the pastoral office as well as the parish governance.   With lifetime tenure, the secular parallel is a "self-perpetuating board," or as we know them, an old-boys board.  Fr. Peters may have a couple of these in his distant memory.  I have them as current events. 

Take selection of hymns - the pastor in those cases cannot select a hymn the elders don't want.  Take selection of hymnals - the pastor cannot utilize LSB (in a Missouri parish) because the elders believe it to be doctrinally deficient.  Of course those are the less serious instances.    The use of biblical terminology, and terminology that was designated for the pastoral office rather than the diaconal office, is what is attractive and can be deadly.

Dave Benke

BISHOP

Change the name form "elder" to "deacon?" How would we distinguish them from the District consecrated deacons?

Peace, JOHN
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