Friday, March 25, 2011

Hymnody and Liturgy Workshop

While in Kenya last month, I had the privilege of presenting a one-day workshop on Hymnody and Liturgy at Uhuru Highway Cathedral in Nairobi along with Kantor Richard Resch.

Kantor Resch organized his teaching around our Lutheran Identity. What does it mean to be a Lutheran? The answer to this question was divided into three parts. To be Lutheran means to be Confessional, Sacramental, and Liturgical. From there, he spent the day teaching what each of those three categories held. At various points, I would take over and teach a portion of the liturgy or a hymn as it connected to the discussion. At the end of the day, we prayed Vespers together, using the lovely Kenyan setting as it will be in Ibada Takatifu.

One workshop participant wrote a summary of the day for us. Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:

To my astonishment, I noted that as Lutherans most of our congregations are Pentecostal in their worship, meaning that we are busy borrowing from the Pentecostal churches and not from our own sister Liturgical churches if we must. We have neglected our Lutheran worship books and we are busy copying the Pentecostals, something which is very sad and misleading. We think that we are doing something for God when it is actually Him doing all for us.

Hence as a participant I am so happy that the church is committed in coming up with her own Hymnal so that we can keep our identity. Am also requesting that the Pastors be challenged to make sure that the congregations are worshiping as Lutherans and not Pentecostals. They must be there to advise and lead the services accordingly.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hymns proclaim God's Word

Hearing the Word strengthens and sustains us and keeps in the faith. Hymns that faithfully proclaim God’s Word are worthy and worthwhile. They are worth the time and effort to learn, to sing often, to remember and sing through the day. These hymns preach the Gospel. The music is a vehicle for the proclamation of the Word of God.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please help!

The Kenyan Hymnal Project is officially a project of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya. Because their resources are scarce, Archbishop Walter Obare requested help with this project from the Lutheran Church/Missouri Synod. We are given gifts in order to serve our neighbor, and it is indeed a privilege for us to provide hymnals for these brothers in Christ.

This project needs your support. We hope to be ready to print hymnals in a matter of months, and need the funds for this to happen. The hymnals will cost between $4 and $5 each to print, depending on the number ordered. Would you be able two hymnals for a household? Ten hymnals for a classroom? Twenty five for a congregation? Any amount will help.

CTS-FW is holding the money for the project, so donations are to be sent to Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 N Clinton, Fort Wayne IN 46825. In the memo line of the check, write “Kenyan Hymnal Project”. Include a brief note, stating clearly that your donation is for the Kenyan Hymnal Project.

God bless you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

reviving this blog

Dear, dear, dear. It turns out I’m very bad at blogging. Look at this – has it actually been a year since I’ve said anything about the progress on the hymnal? I shall endeavor to do better.

The fact of the matter is that we have seen the Lord’s hand over and over in paving the way for progress on this hymnal, and we fully expect the project to be completed in less than a year. The details are many, and worth recounting for the sake of the history of the ELCK and its first hymnal, for the testimony it is to God’s gracious and abundance, and for the joy of thinking on good and worthwhile things. There is still much work to do, and the need for donations continues, as I’ll explain in future posts, and that is yet another reason to publicize this work.

My last posts were from a year ago, at the time of a Pastors’ Conference at Matongo Lutheran Theological College. Over the past year much of my work has been in the corpus of hymns – exactly which hymns will be included in this hymnal, how and where we can get translations into Swahili, the possibility of including some in English, and the continuing search for solid, indigenous hymnody.

Because hymns are so central to Lutherans, because all creation sings to praise God, because music carries God’s Word into our hearts and souls in a deep, profound way, to be called to immerse oneself in hymnody has been, and continues to be, a blessing beyond words.

We sing the praise of Him who died,

Of Him who died upon the cross.

The sinner’s hope let all deride;

For this we count the world but loss.