Nothing says Lutheran like “PE worship,” am I right? (UPDATED)

Next week is Lutheran Schools Week. Lutheran schools across the country will be celebrating in various ways. From a recent Reporter, we learn:

“National Lutheran Schools Week is a chance for Lutheran schools to celebrate their special heritage and an opportunity to promote themselves to their communities,” Bill Cochran, director of LCMS School Ministry, told Reporter.

So how is the Northern Illinois District of the Lutheran Church celebrating our special Lutheran heritage? Well, read on . . .

LUTHERAN SCHOOLS WEEK “PRAISE CELEBRATION”: This is A Lutheran Schools Week “Praise Celebration!” for K-8. An hour of Worship, PE and Music Education, all in one! Pastor Rich Rubietta engages the whole school in joyful worship, from head-to-toe. Both familiar and original, interactive songs, featuring Heroes & Heroines who inspire us to live our faith.

A complete Sound & Media system is provided. Rich has a Music Degree from Northwestern University and is on Tour with Illinois Arts Council. Contact Rich at: 888.811.4790 or [email protected]

“With energy and the Holy Spirit, Rich keeps his audience participating like no other performer can. It is a truly amazing experience!” Dr. John DeVries – Immanuel Lutheran School Elmhurst, IL

“…a rocking, Christ centered message, that keeps K-8 students engaged in sharing their faith!” Paul Trettin, Principal – Immanuel Lutheran School Elmhurst, IL

Nothing says Lutheran like an hour of worship, PE and music “all in one” am I right? Oh wait . . .

Well, I’m sure Pastor Rubietta can explain how all this celebrates our Lutheran heritage. Although he might have difficulty when you consider the fact that . . .

he’s not even Lutheran.

In fact, here’s a bit from his bio:

Northern Illinois Conference Evangelist
United Methodist Church

Pastor for 18 years in the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church. Conference Evangelist since 1999, appointed to Abounding Ministries.

Graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois with a BA in Music. Graduate of Trinity Divinity School, Deerfield, IL with a Masters in Divinity.

Worship Leader, Composer and Producer who uses Guitar, Sequencer (keyboard) and acoustic instruments to lead worship.

Effectively introduced contemporary worship in three former parishes.

Perhaps the folks at the Northern Illinois District can explain why they think Pastor Rubietta is the most qualified or ideal person to lead Lutheran schoolchildren in a celebration of Lutheran Schools Week.

Because I have to be honest — I’m not quite understanding it.

UPDATE: While this program is being offered in the Northern Illinois District, and some NID educators are under the impression this was recommended by the NID, it might just be the offering of a single congregational school. I’ll update or clarify further when I know more.


Nothing says Lutheran like “PE worship,” am I right? (UPDATED) — 44 Comments

  1. Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes…

    Father Abraham had many sons…

    Yeah, and I’m thinking of how many people I have heard in my life who think the liturgisthenics “stand-kneel-sit-stand-kneel-stand” during the daily office is just too much movement.

  2. Wow. Is gk a Methodist too? Don’t answer that.


    Though, I gotta say, as a mother of a 5 year old…. We have several children’s music CDs in the house. 1 is from CPH and was given to us by a friend who just had 4 kids baptised and received 4 CDs. It’s children singing hymns. I also have the “Sing the Faith” cd. I think that’s what it’s called. It’s children singing the small catechism. I have a couple of other kids song CDs that I picked up at the Lutheran Bookstore, but they’re not from CPH and they have some not-so-Lutheran-sounding doctrine in a few of the songs, but they’re more upbeat than the other two CDs. Also, I have some generic nursery rhyme and kids songs CDs that are non-religious in nature. My daughter hates the hymn CD and the catechism CD. Is it so wrong to appeal to kids through happy, simple tunes? I’m not suggesting they be used in the Divine Service; just as listening music for kids (provided that the doctrine isn’t compromised).

  3. I’ll definitely have to ask the district about this.

    For the record, we have one of the largest schools in the NID. We’ll be celebrating Lutheran Schools Week by singing “If God Himself Be For Us”, an antiphon for the week’s Psalm by John Behnke, and Luther’s “May God Embrace Us with His Grace”.

    Chapel will include catechism songs from “Sing the Faith”.

    Our kids sing louder than most congregations. No special “kiddie music” or “sound and media system” is required.

  4. Jen, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with little children listening to and singing simple children’s songs (as long as doctrine is not compromised, and you are all over that). We have a small collection of children’s tapes & CD’s we have gathered over the years from sources like Cedarmont Kids and Wee Sing. Some are Bible songs, some are just fun nursery rhymes and other kinds of children’s ditties and action songs. Our children have enjoyed listening to them over the years, and I think as long as you understand the distinction between music for worship and music for other times you are fine. Having said that, though, I would continue to work to introduce some of the more substantive music into your children’s diet. My 6yo loves “Jack and Jill” but he also loves the catechism songs. We sing hymns in our home devotions and at other times to try to help him become more familiar with Lutheran hymnody and liturgy so that church is not the only place he gets it. If nothing else, you could play those hymn and catechism CD’s for yourself and sing along and I bet in time your daughter will catch the spirit.

  5. What is a worship leader vs. a cantor? Is there a difference?

    As a son of the Presbyterian church, I confess I love the doctrinal hymns I now sing far more than the claptrap we did as kids. While I learned a good bit of Biblical background (thanks, dad) it’s the doctrinal component that’s required to reduce the theological muddle that characterized the first half of my life.

    @Phillip bring the kids to the early service, which requires a bit more volume.

  6. @ Cheryl – Thanks for your response. I wish we could sing hymns at home, but I can’t play an instrument or read sheet music and I couldn’t carry a tune with a vice grip. I’m at the mercy of whatever we have on CD. We had the 4-CD set “Martin Luther: Hymns Ballads Chants Truth”, but I lost all but one CD. I’m a recent Lutheran convert, so ALL hymns are new to me. I spent 18 years in “Contemporary Worship” and I had memorized so many the songs that I could sing them in my car (alone, of course), but I haven’t memorized a single hymn. They’re just not as catchy. I feel like I’ll never build up the same internal library of sacred music and it’s a little depressing. I want to get these songs into myself, but we seldom repeat a hymn at church more than once or twice a year – at least I don’t think so. Sometimes the tune seems familiar but the words don’t. It’s quite an adjustment. Any suggestions?

  7. Get some of the CD’s from Kantorei at Ft Wayne Seminary.
    Listen while you work. Right now I’m on “Te Deum”.

    [I “lost” the Martin Luther CD (at the bottom of my stack) because it’s too much soprano for my taste. It was disappointing!]

    Sing along with the CD’s. Your children don’t know you “can’t sing.”
    Most of us aren’t trained. We make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

  8. Mollie–perhaps this will help you to better understand it.

    It should be plain for all to see that the LCMS’ historic suspicion and wariness of things Reformed has been severaly compromised. It has been a common complaint for a gazillion years that is was the LCMS who was “sectarian”, “stand-offish”, and “un-ecumenical” in its attitude toward other denominations, especially the RC and Reformed. “We’re over that” seems to be the message these days. “We’re letting the sunlight in.” We have gone far beyond our historic stance–anything goes today: Emergent Church, and whatever else “works” is OK, welcome, in fact. “We can’t do it as well as they can.”

    So it is with the Northern Illinois District. In the ad you quoted “Christ-centered” is mentioned once. “…featuring Heroes & Heroines who inspire us to live our faith,” describes the program. “With energy and the Holy Spirit, Rich keeps his audience participating like no other performer can. It is a truly amazing experience!”
    “Audience?”, “performer?”, “experience?” What does that tell you?
    ” [It] keeps K-8 students engaged in sharing their faith!” Back to works.
    It’s all about US!, “Christ-centered” notwithstanding.
    But perhaps the most telling is the Reporter snippet: “an opportunity to promote themselves to their communities.” Promote WHO? Why “Themselves”, of course.

    Other than “Christ-centered” (as a means to an end, i.e. ‘Jesus saved you so get to work’), the Gospel itself is missing. Mollie, you’ve asked the right question: “Perhaps the folks at the Northern Illinois District can explain why they think Pastor Rubietta is the most qualified or ideal person to lead Lutheran schoolchildren in a celebration of Lutheran Schools Week.”

    But, if I were you, I wouldn’t sit by the phone, computer, or mailbox waiting for an answer. I think we already know.

    Johannes, curmudgeon-at-large

  9. Mollie-
    would you post a link to where this info came from? I haven’t been able to find it on the NID website.
    Thanks, Pr. Ball+

  10. Jen – it will come. You will learn the hymns through repetition. It will just take a little longer than the praise junk becuase hymns consist of more than three lines repeated 12 million times.

  11. Didn’t our theological ancestors flee Saxony to avoid compromising with the Reformed?

    And here we are embracing their ways, little by little.

  12. @Jen #6

    > Thanks for your response. I wish we could sing hymns at home, but I can’t play an instrument or read sheet music and I couldn’t carry a tune with a vice grip.

    Try this place (below). Go to the TLH section. It is amazing. LSB has a good bit in common with TLH.

    CPH: please publish MIDIs for the LSB!!! Not for free. Put all the MIDIs on a CD and sell it.

  13. What happened to the Lutheran Theological Dictum, ” Lutheran Pulpits/Altars for lutherans only”.

    If a Methodist is an Officiant of the Liturgy, albeit the music portion, in the context of a Worship Service, i.e,. Divine Service, is this not the definition of Unionism and Syncretism, or has this definition become so wide and lose that it means, really, nothing at all?

    A Methodist Minister is leading an Hour of Worship, of Praise Worship, in a supposedly Lutheran Congregation, in a supposedly Lutheran District, in what I supposedly can conjecture has a Communion Practice as open as their Worship Practice, which is, we are in Union with all our Brothers who ‘believe in Jesus, and so who are we to deny them access to our Altar?!

    Now some will say that,” they will not be celebrating The Lord’s Supper at this hour of Praise Worship”, but what of it, Worship, in the Lutheran Context, centers around and has it’s genesis in the Lord’s Supper.

    And with the passage of Res 8-01A of the 2004 Houston Convention, lots of luck trying to deal with this through official Church Channels, no luck at all.

    Welcome to the brave new world of,” This is not your Grandfather’s Church”.

  14. Are our leaders all self hating Lutherans who feel compelled to go outside for every darn thing. Were they not prepared by our sems. and schools to do this kind of work? We have a child who went through the system and from time to time, toward the end of his high school years we had to step in and put the brakes on some of our “trusted” teachers and principal on issues such as global warming, secularized multi culturalism, etc. Time for the parents to put the hammer down!! Oh for the days when you could trust our professional folks to do the doctrinally correct thing and felt confident to conduct thier own sessions. goals.

  15. @Miles Whitener #14
    Actually, I go to a TLH church. It’s just that I’m never sure when to start singing or how long to sing a syllable. It’s not obvious to me. *sniff* I’m hymnody challenged.

  16. This is just another unbelievable turn of events. No wonder that I more and more feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland. What has become of our leadership? I am back to my old litany: Kyrie eleison.

  17. @Jen #20

    Understand. These old tunes have an unpredictable meter. Sometimes not so easy to learn.

    Good reason for not changing things all the time!

  18. “National Lutheran Schools Week is a chance for Lutheran schools to celebrate their special heritage and an opportunity to promote themselves to their communities,” Bill Cochran, director of LCMS School Ministry, told Reporter

    Perhaps we are misunderstanding Mr. Cochran’s statement. Maybe the leadership and students at this particular Lutheran school come from a “special” non-Lutheran heritage which they wish to celebrate. Just because you you go to a Lutheran church or school doesn’t mean you are Lutheran.

  19. @Johannes #9

    Exactly like Parton’s ‘Law/Gospel/Law’ rhythm-section example in ‘The Defense Never Rests.’

    And, as an aside, as a recovering metal-head…what exactly is “rocking” about this nonsense? Because, quite frankly, it rocks about as hard as Stephen Hawking at a Metallica show.

  20. This is a typical example of Church Fellowship being violated and so also Altar Fellowship,Communnio in Sacris, no longer exists, between this congregation and all those who adhere to our Doctrine of Fellowship, based on the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.

    It is a sober thing to contemplate how many Districts and/or congregations, with which an Orthodox Lutheran, is no longer in Fellowship with, as a result of this kind of Unionism and Syncretism.

  21. ELCA in fellowship with UMC. UMC guy leading LCMS school celebration. You know what’s next…

  22. Theoretical Scenario…

    A auxiliary LCMS church worker fresh out of the CUS ends up in a heterodox congregation. Shortly after settling in this worker realizes what he/she has gotten into and it is not orthodox Lutheranism. What are they to do? Who do they go to? Without compromising their integrity and doctrinal stances that they promised to uphold, how do they serve the congregation?

    I believe this to be a reality for some of our Concordia system graduates.

  23. Sojourner-
    if you simply put Pastor in place of auxilliary LCMS church worker fresh out of seminary. Along with the he only and you have a whole bunch of pastors who have been placed in such situations, and the same is true of the auxilliary offices of course. This is a reality all around. What do they do? Pray. Seek out a pastor to be their confessor. Teach what they have been given to teach faithfully. Speak in humilty to the pastor of the congregation about the concerns. Remind him in humility what you have promised to do, and firmly say that there are things that you cannot in conscience have part in and explain why. Seek out mutual consolation from others in the same situation. If necessary look for other places where the Lord might have use of you. There is more of course.
    Pr. Ball+

    @Sojourner #28

  24. Sojourner,

    I believe it was Kaiser Wilhelm who held this motto: “Viel Feind, Viel Ehre” which means, “Many enemies, much glory.” If one goes against insurmountable odds to one’s death, it is a glorious death. Typical German – Prussian kind of thing to say, right?

    And yet we keep in mind what it means to have “enemies” according to God’s Word (lit. “inimcus” or “in” + “amicus” i.e. NOT a friend).

    If we establish that we have enemies in our midst, that is not an excuse to fear them or to treat them harshly. We are to love our enemies (Ex. 23:22) keeping in mind that “if when were were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). Jesus has the greatest glory (viel Ehre) because He faced the greatest enemies (viel Feind) of the devil, the world, our flesh, and the condemnation of the Law.

    While he was Saul, the apostle Paul was no friend to Christians. Who could have foreseen what the Lord would do? Heterodox “Christians” need to be loved and led to the truth. This calls for sharpening one’s Law-and-Gospel skills, much prayer, and reliance on Word and Sacrament.

    It may have seemed “odd” to believing Jews that Jews would be stoning them to death for proclaiming the Gospel and the Messiah — just as it seems strange to be harassed by Lutherans for being Lutheran. It is never pleasant for us to “. . . fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church,” (Col 1:24). But there is no avoiding the cross. Some will think they are doing God a service by killing us not along the highways and byways, but in the synagogue (John 16:2).

    Perhaps we’d rather be persecuted by unbelievers than by those with whom we share church membership, but it’s persecution just the same. Still, we ARE more than conquerors . . .

    Serve the congregation by loving them, speaking the truth in love, suffering for them, but perhaps at some point shaking off the dust and moving elsewhere. And welcome to the club.

  25. to The Rev. BT Ball,

    Well said. I hope there are not many who feel as though they are the only one in those circumstances. Humility yet firmness of conviction…a line one can walk only with the help of the Holy Spirit. God grant that all in these tough situations seek His guidance through meditation on His Word and strengthening through the body and blood of Christ. Amen.

  26. To Rev. Joel A. Brondos,

    These blogs are a source of great wisdom and comfort for many. Thank you for your insights. I wasn’t necessarily speaking of my own circumstances but I will accept the welcome to the club nonetheless. Thank you.

  27. Makes me wonder. Do LCMS congregations feel like they are missing out on some big secret or special ingredient that they feel like they need to invite in heterodoxy in order to “grow”?

  28. @Sojourner #33

    Being Lutheran can be paradox.
    From the simple: It all has been done for you through Christ.
    To the complex: The book of concord and what we believe and why.

    So the simple is too simple, there must be more, we have to do something!
    But the complex is too complex so we have to dumb it down.
    That’s when we get in trouble.

    Being Lutheran is easy, learning Lutheranism is a lifetime.


  29. @ Johannes #35

    Good resource. It’s one of those that is good to go back and listen to a few times and really let it sink in. Thank you.

  30. I just don’t think “ho-ho-ho-hosanna” is going to be much comfort at the graveside.

  31. @Rev. Jody Walter #38
    It’s not the graveside that’s iimportant. It’s having all the friends and relatives saying a few words about the dear departed during the funeral service. Give ’em a few bible readings, then let them get up, say a few words and voila! you’ve got your service. You don’t have to preach–all the extemporaneous speakers will do that. You might even get the “sinner’s prayer” as I experienced once–at an LCMS funeral. Not to worry about graveside–it’s the schtick that matters.

    Johannes (curmudgeon at large)

  32. Oh but mom, all the OTHER kids are going to jump off the cliff. Why can’t I?

    Because, dear, you might die and I would miss you.

    They promised me I wouldn’t die if I just followed them.

    Okay honey, I wouldn’t want you to feel left out. After all, you are just a kid.

    Thanks, mom.

    (Mom, wiping tears from her eyes. I wish I had checked about those other kids. I didn’t know none of them ever came home after jumping. Maybe I should have stood my ground. Now all I can do is stare at his picture and wonder when it was I refused to train up my child in the way he should go.)

  33. What a bunch of “grumpy old Lutherans.” We don’t need no liturgy. Who needs the Cross and empty tomb when Jesus will heal you in exchange for you “releasing your glory?” Seriously, thanks for the link. I have to review it again, though, because I thought a saw an Ablaze! banner behind the stage. Can one watch it twice and survive that much sanctification?

    A co-worker of mine brags about his “church” giving away i-pods and flat screens to lure them in. Then he says, “Seven people ‘got saved’ last Sunday!” What is sad is that these folks quote a few verses of Scripture in their market-driven churches to support their false theology; and then they laugh at us for teaching that we receive Christ’s Body and Blood.

  34. @Rev. Jody Walter #38 Sounds more “christmassy” to me. 😉

    On another note, when I was teaching music in an LCMS school back in the late 90’s, we were given this syrupy praise song as the theme for Lutheran Schools Week. I thought maybe it was just for that year, but it came back year after year.

    The pastor said, “I know. Just see what you can do with it.”

    We used it my first year, then revamped it for year two. I extracted the refrain (which was sufficiently scriptural) and replaced the verses with a psalm tone and psalm verses.

    That year the pastor said, “Hey, you are taking that lemon and making liturgical lemonade!”

    That was just the theme song that needed some adjustments. Saying this guy is “Christ-centered” is another story. If he is on tour as part of the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, how can he possibly be Christ-centered?

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