This is Your Grandfather’s Church – Reflections for All Saints’ Day, by Pr. Stephen Schumacher

(This is the description for the All Saints’ Day Celebration at Bethany Lutheran – Naperville, Illinois that was printed in the bulletin this morning. The dinner was great. Your editor feasted on scalloped corn and smoked ham, while others enjoyed Swedish meatballs, potato casserole, sauerkraut and tables full of other old-fashioned delicacies. Neither Charlie Henrickson nor Eric Stefanski showed up so  there was no lutefisk nor Thai brats. See yesterday’s post and comments for an explanation.)

                      Why did we title our All Saints’ Day theme for 2009 “This is Your Grandfather’s Church?”   The answer is in the subtitle:   “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.”   Jesus Christ is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.   He is still God who became man for us at the Incarnation.   He is still the One who died for our sins on the terrible cross on Good Friday.   He is still the Resurrected Lord who rose from the dead on Easter.   He is still the Ascended King who ascended to the right hand of the Father at Ascension, and whose return we eagerly await.   Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

                      Since He is the same; the message we proclaim will be the same.   The preaching of Law to condemn sins and the proclamation of the Gospel for the forgiveness of sins was not an innovation made to bring people into the church.   It is the truth.   Our grandfathers needed to hear Law and Gospel, so do we.   So will our children.

                      And the Gospel is delivered in the same way today as it was to our grandfathers, and their grandfathers before them—through the Means of Grace.   God’s Word and Sacraments deliver the forgiveness of sins that Christ won for us on the cross.   We rejoice in the same forgiveness of sins delivered in the same way as it was to our grandfathers and generations before them.   It is the same Word, the same Absolution, the same Lord’s Supper that bring life and salvation to God’s baptized people today and brought life and salvation to our grandfathers.

                      There are those in the Church today who might say, “This is not your grandfather’s church.”   They will say that to reach people today we have to change our worship.   They will also say things like, “We have to do away with our creeds.   Our churches should look more like an auditorium.   We have to preach on topics that church seekers want to hear about.   We have speak more about relationships and less about doctrine.”   They think that today’s people are really quite different than our grandfathers.

                      But our grandfathers lived in a world that was far different from their grandfathers.   Yet they did not clamor for a Glenn Miller liturgy or demand that church songs resemble Elvis singles.   Instead they faithfully heard the Word and received the Sacraments.   The problem of sin is much older than our grandfathers and will remain much longer than our grandchildren should Christ tarry.   And the grace of Christ that comes in Word and Sacrament still is present with us today and will sustain our grandchildren.

                      We rejoice today that we share our Grandfathers’ Church—a church founded on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


This is Your Grandfather’s Church – Reflections for All Saints’ Day, by Pr. Stephen Schumacher — 9 Comments

  1. Amen and Amen! The problems that we face in the Church today are not unique to our age, yet we think that we must wed ourselves to the spirit of this age. It was truly said by someone that the Church who marries herself to the spirit of this age will be a widow in the next. May it never be! Indeed, this is my grandfather’s church, including all of my forefathers in the faith. Keep up the good work!

  2. I hope my church doesn’t turn into my grandfather’s church, they were both Roman Catholic.

  3. This is like the economists – well, the stock market guys – telling us “things are different this time.” It’s not true. The human genome doesn’t change. Our sinful natures don’t change. Solomon’s words that there is nothing new under the sun don’t change.

    I don’t get why intelligent people have such hubris to think that the current generation is different from what went before.

    That’s what they told us when we were kids, that we were hip while the old folk were just fuddie duddies. Of all the claptrap – just a generation or two ago people had survived the unimaginable horrors of a depression, and then the next generation had gone through the most desperate of wars to date. We were simply the children of fat times and indulgent schools.

    And to think that the church, after 2000 years, suddenly needs to change to “be successful…”

  4. If I remember correctly the hymn writer’s hymns were contemporary at the time they were written. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for contemporary services but an occasional contemporary hymn inserted in the devine service wouldn’t hurt. I think that throwing the baby out with the bathwater fits with many contemporary hymns. Considering the content of many new hymns, many should be called but few chosen.

  5. John E.,

    You make a good point. No one is saying that we cannot have new hymns. The LSB has dozens of hymns that were written by people born after 1940.

    As we like to say at Bethany, the composer of “This is the Feast” is alive and well. You can call him on the telephone and talk to him. We support the composition of and promotion of new hymns and other music that are appropriate for the historic liturgy.

    What we oppose are the wholesale changes happening today. The liturgy changes for sure, but it changes slowly and surely and at a pace that allows God’s people to assess the change and make sure that it is in keeping with the pure Gospel.


  6. Consider LSB 941. The author has a blog. Any newer, and he’d be on facebook.

    The tune is reverent and majestic, fitting the text, a versification of the Te Deum. You probably couldn’t get more doctrine into the hymn without versifying (word?) the Creed.

    Were that 941 set the standard for “contemporary.” But, alas.

  7. And again for the second time in a month I had a visitor tell us that they were happy to find a “traditional church”. That is what they are looking for!

  8. I can endure “This is the feast” after quite some years. (I would still prefer it otherwise.)

    At least, [Gott sei dank!] whoever plans the service has not inflicted “Grace our table with Your presence” on us. Yet.

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