Why “Maundy” Thursday? Apr02

Why “Maundy” Thursday?

Thursday of Holy Week is called “Maundy Thursday.” The name “Maundy” comes from the Latin “mandatum,” or “command,” and is the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” – in English, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.” Jesus, speaking to his disciples, continues, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus says these words during his final meal with his disciples. For this reason, worship on Maundy Thursday is almost always a communion service and...

Community-Connected Worship Nov19

Community-Connected Worship

We had two rather remarkable worship services at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia over the last few weeks that I wanted to share with you. Two weeks ago, for our community All Saints service, we remembered a different set of saints. Actually, the community prayed for the usual group of saints, those we have known and loved and have lost in the last year. But we also prayed for all those who have been killed by gun violence in the city of Philadelphia over the previous year as well. As part of that remembrance, a memorial to those victims was set up outside of our chapel. Sponsored by the interfaith coalition Neighborhood...

What The Family Feud Tells Us About Worship Jun20

What The Family Feud Tells Us About Worship

This video went viral because it’s considered one of the great “fails” of Family Feud history. Flustered Anna Sass needs only 18 points for her family to win $20,000. That’s eighteen points from five questions, any of which could yield well over 18. Alas, she comes up empty. (You can read the HuffPo article if you want to know if her family ever forgave her. ☺) What struck me, however, wasn’t so much Anna’s minor tragedy as the answer to the second question she was asked: “Name a place where people check their watch.” She said “airport,” an answer already taken, then responded with “restaurant,” an answer...

Holy Week as Dramatic Climax Apr14

Holy Week as Dramatic Climax

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand he stands And brings us life from heaven. Therefore let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of hallelujah! –Martin Luther The characters in the following story will remain anonymous in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty. 🙂 A few years ago a good friend of mine shared a recent conversation she’d had with her middle school-aged kids. The older asked if they would be going away for spring break. She replied that, no, this year spring break happened to fall over Holy Week, and since their parents...

Worship Worries: Do We Understand What We’re Doing? Mar27

Worship Worries: Do We Understand What We’re...

Sometimes, while I’m attending church I think about what it would be like to be new. Not just new to this particular church, but new to church, to Christian worship, to everything. Usually when I do that exercise I’m almost immediately discouraged, as I realize that I would probably understand very little of what was going on. More than that, I’d have to juggle a book and bulletin or keep following what’s being projected on the screen. Most of the decorations around the sanctuary and the dress of the people up front would be foreign. And, let’s not forget, I’d probably be singing (or at least listening to) a style of music that I...

Lent: Who Needs It? Mar06

Lent: Who Needs It?

Membership in the Christian Church of the first four centuries was not come by lightly. As an underground organization, the church had to scrutinize carefully every prospective member, and a prolonged period of probation was a requirement. This period would normally terminate with reception into the Church by baptism at Easter. The final period preceding baptism, Lent, was naturally the most rigorous. Candidates were required to fast in preparation, and to attend catechetical lectures and periodic examinations or “scrutinies.”    –Edward Horn III Lent. Among many Christian congregations it’s become something of a dirty,...