Calvin, Luther, KFUO and a Merry Christmas – Comment from the Cello Player

“Cellolee” has been leaving interesting comments all through the KFUO discussion. We thought this one was worth a broader read and was appropriate for today since it ends with Christmas greetings. (For the entire string of comments click here. You might also want to check the last few comments from Rev. Stefanski on this string. He does a helpful service of reminding us to distinguish the Word from the music.)

December 24th, 2009 at 02:31 | #441
Interesting the direction this thread is going despite a few barbs thrown back and forth. I’m trying to wrap my mind around this and a couple other threads. I’m another classical musician who converted to LCMS partly through Classic 99. When driving to church gigs on Sunday morning, I’d hear Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church. Later I started getting asked to play there and at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church in South County. Those radio broadcasts kept the LCMS in my mind. My wife and I were seeking a traditional, liturgical church with strong theology, good music, good teaching, and good community. We were Calvinist in theology and after studying Lutheranism felt it was closer to Calvinist than some Lutherans realize (in some cases just using different terms).

With all the dirt coming out right now both in my congregation and in the LCMS in general, I’m a bit embarrassed and I’m concerned about the core values of the leadership. Are they just paying lip service to the Christian faith? I don’t know. Should a lawyer on the board have been used or one that might have had less of an appearance of conflict of interest? Could he have been more respectful of the 41 petitioners? (That really worked me up.) The manner in which the pending sale of KFUO-FM has been handled has certainly made me think whether I should reconsider my relationship with the LCMS, although it’s going to have more to do with my own congregation in the longer run. I don’t have a life-time history with the LCMS, but I do with Christ. In the long-term I have cared care more about the Bible and the creeds than the confessions/catechisms (although as PCA members, we were concerned with the Westminster Confession so that we even included a part of it in our wedding). I’m watching to see how those who are confessing their faith are really behaving.

I think one of the things LCCM’s colleagues and mine, too, run into is a general conflict between left-brain and right-brain thinkers. In a PCA church where I used to be a member, I felt greatly misunderstood and in some ways beaten down. I kept my mouth shut and put up with it because of solid teaching. Later, I married and then was in a PCA church (with some Lutheran roots) that was very artsy but it was a little more flaky and the pastor did not seem as solidly grounded in his sermons. Yet, it felt mostly right… until more of the liturgical elements started being stripped out of the services.

When I play church jobs, there are places where I’m playing that I see a massive number of empty places in the pews. We saw this in the two years my wife and I searched for a new church home. On one Sunday morning one of my colleagues once said “people aren’t going for organized religion any more.”

There are times I feel like I’m part of two shrinking minorities — a lover of classical music (including the traditional hymns) and as a Christian. It really disturbs me that so many people are staying home from church on a Sunday morning. We are such a fast-food society and we seem to want fast-food religion if we want it at all. Let’s not take the time to listen to God. Let’s not take the time to enjoy his creation. Let’s not enjoy the work of those inspired by God’s creation. Somehow to me, the loss of Classic 99 is just another sign of this.

Having read on another thread started by Pastor Wilken I’m understanding more about the need for the LCMS to sell the station (the declining value of all radio stations was an eye-opener). The situation is still painful to me. (And no, I can’t afford to buy any new devices to play broadcast music through any other means… haven’t figured out how to pay tax bills….)

In the meantime, I’ll take joy in the birth of my Savior–play in three Christmas Eve services and possibly attend a fourth (my own church). If any of you come to the 5 & 10 p.m. services at Christ Memorial, I’m the guy holding the cello.

Wishing you all a very blessed, meaningful Christmas–that includes those anonymous as well as those identified by name.

GKL

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