Something is Missing from the LCMS President’s Holy Week “Perspective” by Pr. Rossow

Each week President Kieschnick sends out a little e-mail titled “Perspectives.” It is a really useful tool that allows the president to communicate to a large group of people. Click here if you are interested in subscribing. Take a look at this week’s “Perspectives” and you might notice that something very essential is missing from his summary of Holy Week…

Volume I Number 26

“Holy Week”

This is Holy Week. Christians around the world are remembering in a special way, with special worship, the events of Jesus’ suffering and death. These include His entry into Jerusalem; the institution of the Lord’s Supper; the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; the betrayal of Jesus in that same garden; his arrest and inquisition; his cruel treatment and mocking; his crown of thorns and scarlet robe; his sentence to death; his crucifixion; the spear that pierced his side; his burial in a tomb. Those events precede the discovery by the women at the tomb that his body was missing; the appearance of the angels at the tomb; the appearance of Jesus to Mary in the garden and to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. All these events remind us of God’s love for us in His Son Jesus, the Christ.

 On Palm Sunday, Terry and I worshiped in an LCMS congregation where we had a very spiritually meaningful experience. The pastor’s message, accompanied by a powerful drama, deeply moving choral presentations, and congregation hymn singing, all focused on the power of Christ in our life and world today. Part of that service was a reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ. Many times in my life I have witnessed such portrayals. And each time I’m reminded of the depth of Christ’s love for me, expressed in His agony and cruel death. Those reminders sharpen for me the intensity and impact of the Festival of the Resurrection. For we know that Christ has power, even over death! O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always!

Any guesses as to what is missing?  

It’s the forgiveness of sins. It is extraordinary that the president of a confessional Lutheran synod can write a 300 word summary of Holy Week and not mention the forgiveness of sins. My point is not to criticize President Kieschnick but to call your attention to how many like him are thinking and talking about the faith these days.

Notice also the emphasis on emotions and the emphasis on the Christian rather than Christ. He uses such phrases as “meaningful experience,” powerful drama,” “deeply moving” and “the power of Christ in our life and world today.”

Notice also that according to the author what Good Friday does is to “sharpen the impact of the Festival of the Resurrection.” According to this summary Holy Week is all about Easter, but truth be told, it is on Good Friday and from the cross that our Lord preaches “It is finished.” It is on the cross that the sacrifice is completed for the forgiveness of sins. As Dr. Luther and Dr. Nagel have taught us, Good Friday is the real working day for God; Easter is icing on the cake.

It is scary to think that the president of a leading confessional Lutheran synod could say plenty about the emotion of Holy Week and leave out the forgiveness of sins. It is scary but not surprising because the nine year administration of this president has demonstrated that he values the piety (or lack thereof) of culturally relevant American Evangelicalism (just listen to his description of the kind of church service he attended on Palm Sunday – it is the sort of thing that will be happening in thousands of American Evangelical auditoriums this week) as much as or more than the piety of traditional, liturgical Lutheranism.

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