Monday, December 11, 2006

Amazon review: 'The Word of the Lord": Liturgy's Use of Scripture' by David N. Power

A good, if uneven, survey of the meaning of the Scripture Being God's Word

The book's strength is in dealing with the history of the scriptures in the liturgy, and in the extra-liturgical uses of scripture. It's also good when dealing with comparative uses of the scriptures in churches around the world (the picture of the Mass in pps. 78 and 79 is a beautiful snapshot of the church is a particular community, far removed from that of most of us).

The weakness I see lies in several areas. First, the writer seems to try too hard to present a "relevant" take on contemporary problems such as AIDS, which -- only 5 years after it was published! -- has a dated feel. Secondly, the writer tries to survey non-Roman (specifically Lutheran and Anglican, and to a lesser degree, Reformed) liturgical use of the scriptures, and these attempts don't seem to have a lot of depth.

All in all, the book is weak at the beginning, but improves toward the end.

I also must warn that the author uses a turn of phrase that I cannot find warranted by history or theology. On p. 105, the author refers to Christ as a "Theotokos." Traditionally, this term, meaning "bearer of God," is used in reference to the Virgin Mary. I have NEVER heard of this term referring to Christ, who does not "bear" God (a phrase that sounds adoptionist, at least at first hearing) but IS God. I'm not sure what the author is meaning by the term, or if it was simply a mistake, but I would encourage readers to be wary of the author's theology.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Weekly Guide to Prayer

My wife and I have been working through various aspects of the new Lutheran Service Book, and I continue to find it helpful and good.

I was heartened to see the compilers suggest (on p. 294) a weekly pattern for prayers: in other words, prayer concerns for each day of the week.

It's easy to think that we should pray every day for all concerns, but that's not realistic for most people. This is a compromise: concentrate on particular areas of concern on each day of the week.

Their suggestions:

"Sunday: For the joy of the resurrection among us; for the fruit of faith nourished by the Word and the Sacraments.

Monday: For faith to live in the promises of Holy Baptism; for one's calling and daily work; for the unemployed; for the salvation and well-being of our neighbors; for schools, colleges, and seminaries; for good government and peace.

Tuesday: For deliverance against temptation and evil; for the addicted and despairing, the tortured and oppressed; for those struggling against sin.

Wednesday: For marriage and family, that husbands and wives, parents and children live in ordered harmony according to the Word of God; for parents who must raise children alone; for our communities and neighborhoods.

Thursday: For the Church and her pastors; for teachers, deaconesses, and other church workers; for missionaries and for all who serve the church; for fruitful and salutary use of the blessed Sacrament of Christ's body and blood.

Friday: For the preaching of the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the spread of His knowledge throughout the whole world; for the persecuted and oppressed; for the sick and dying.

Saturday: For faithfulness to the end; for the renewal of those who are withering in the faith or have fallen away; for receptive hearts and minds to God's Word on the Lord's Day; for pastors and people as they prepare to administer and receive Christ's holy gifts."

These are very good, very helpful and fine suggestions. I would perhaps encourage a slightly different list. These are not my suggestions; I stole them from the late Kenneth Korby. They are a bit more concentrated than the above, and might be easier to remember. These center -- like the above ideas -- around a theme for the day's prayers.

Sunday: Resurrection, preaching, preachers, hearers, and for faithfulness in preaching.

Monday: Work -- workers, schools, students, unemployed.

Tuesday: Temptation

Wednesday: Parents, children, families. (Korby also encouraged prayers on Wednesday for those suffering from ennui. Ennui is that enormous spiritual problem of thinking that one's work, one's calling is of no value. It sometimes comes in the middle of our lives, and Korby thought Wednesday -- the middle of the week -- to be a valued time to remember that. Likewise, that ennui can come in the middle of our lives as parents, and members of families).

Thursday: Eucharist -- faithful teaching, faithful participation, and correction of false teaching.

Friday: Suffering -- Jesus' suffering, those who suffer, those who are persecuted.

Saturday: Death -- Jesus in the grave, faithfulness unto death, learning to die, rest, sleep.