Saturday, May 06, 2006

A few thoughts about being a Lutheran

Christian and Lutheran Life...

When I was little, my family attended the Church of the Nazarene. Later, we moved to an area where there was no Nazarene church, so we attended small country churches of the neighborhood whose beliefs were more or less in line with my parents'.

Dennis and I began attending Lutheran services when we lived in Germany. When we moved here, we decided to join the Lutheran church. After attending a series of classes with the pastor to learn about the teaching of the Lutheran church, we did become members of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation in Hopkinsville.

My parents had mixed emotions about that. They were glad we were going to church as a family and all, but Lutheran??? They were accustomed to informal worship services where people frequently say "Amen" and any member of the congregation might be called upon to offer an impromptu prayer.

Luherans tend to be fairly formal in worship and they use a liturgy where the pastor speaks and the people respond. Often the responses are sung. Someone who is accustomed to an informal service might think that a Lutheran service sounds much like a Catholic service.

The liturgy is part of what drew me to the Lutheran church. It consists mostly of Scripture verses, set to music, and I found it very meaningful.

I gave my mom some literature to read about Lutheran beliefs and she was just shocked to learn that she agreed with nearly all the Lutheran teachings. :D

Most Protestant churches have roots in Lutheranism. If it had not been for Martin Luther, the Catholic and Orthodox churches might represent the entire body of Christians.

Martin Luther tried to restore the Church to proper teaching of Scripture, not to start a new church called "Lutheran". He would be surprised to see the many things that have occurred in history as a result of his activism, and he'd be shocked that a major Christian denomination is named for him.

Luther's teachings are firmly rooted in Scripture, so the beliefs of conservative Lutherans on many core issues are very similar to the beliefs of other conservative Christian denominations. That's why my mother found herself in agreement with the basic principles of Lutheranism.

Many of the most popular modern denominations are quite young. Some of them are outgrowths of the great revivals that swept across America in the late 19th century and early 20th century. My German great-grandparents who had been raised as Lutherans became Methodists in tent revival meetings of the 1920's.

In my mother's last months of life, she had several long stays in the hospital. She became very close with a married couple who were ministers of a different denomination. This man and wife were volunteer chaplains at the hospital and they were very faithful in that ministry. My mother was touched and blessed by the love and spiritual food they brought to her daily. One day she confided in my brother that this minister and his wife were real Christians, despite their denomination. :)

Jesus said that true believers can be known by what they do. "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16). Though a church is a great aid to one's spiritual growth and Jesus urged fellowship with other believers, I don't think he judges us by our denominational affiliation. God wants our beliefs to be centered on Jesus Christ and based on the Scriptures, and he wants our faith to be evident in our works.

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1 comment:

LittleOne said...

I think the more scriptures we read and know for ourselves, the further away from denominational divisions we get, and the closer we get to the Lord. When we meet together in the Word of God, it tears down all the walls that have separated us. It's man's traditions that get in the way, not God's word. That's where we can all find common ground in Christianity--in the Bible. There is no private interpetation of the Word. God opens it up to anyone who is pure in heart and is truly seeking Him. It's not His will that any of us perish. He made the way so simple that "a fool or a wayfaring man" may enter in.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.