Review of the First Few Days in Houston, by Pr. Rossow

Spirit if the Confessional Delegates – The spirit of the confessional delegates is as high as I have ever seen it. Everywhere I turn I see another friendly face and am introduced to middle of the road delegates who know its time for a change and are skeptical of the structure proposals. I encourage all of you reading this to ask God to bless our little ole’ Missouri Synod with convention decisions that preserve the doctrine and practice with which He has blessed us in His holy word.

Opening Divine Service – The internet is already buzzing with reaction to the curious Divine Service last night. I will leave extended commentary to our BJS worship guru and my convention travel partner Phillip Magness who will write an extended piece on it later this week.

One of the good things I can say about the service is that there was enough of the hymnal’s Divine Service in it that I did feel as though I had gone to church. However, there were so many gratuitous bones thrown to the culture during the liturgy that one was left with plenty of annoying after tastes when all was said and done.

The strictly Lutheran liturgical parts of the service were fairly well done but with too many added musical flair that was not necessary. The Lutheran liturgical parts had a sense of being more than arranged. They were “produced” and therein lies the problem. There is nothing wrong with orchestration and fanfare in appropriate parts of the liturgy but this was overdone. A simple singing and speaking of the hymnal liturgy with a fuller musical sound is appropriate for convention worship. We do not need production value added.

Then there is the issue of the gratuitous rock/pop music in the service. “Thy Strong Word” was done in a nearly heavy metal fashion and then there was a praise medley during the distribution that was also led by the “praise band.” When I go to secular pop and rock concerts I do not hear churchly music. Why is it that when I go to the LCMS convention Divine Service I hear rock and pop music? One observer rightly stated that the “mixture of the sacred and profane was disturbing.”

One of the more talented contemporary musicians was the female “lead.” She had an incredible instrument of a voice. The problem was her voice was sultry and sexy which style is of course, inappropriate for the divine service. It was highly symbolic of how contemporary Christianity has turned Jesus into an object of affection and relationship which has over-ridden the more godly and appropriate notion of Jesus as granter of objective justification.

The most disturbing thing about the worship is that during one of the distribution songs in the contemporary medley, a couple hundred people stood up and swayed to the music, some even raising their hands in charismatic style and as I like to call it, “waving to Jesus.” The song was the “Revelation Song” by Jennie Riddle which apparently is the new charismatic anthem and because of those narcissistic traits it is inappropriate for Scriptural worship.

President Kieschnick’s Sermon – The sermon was short on proclamation and long on description. Walther tells us to preach faith into the hearts of the hearers. President Kieschnick’s sermon was dominated by his continued attempt to impress people that he is confessional. Just as he did at the district convention presentations, here too he read off, in lifeless, wrote fashion, quotes form the confessions and from the liturgy. That was one half of the sermon; the other half was a couple of lengthy stories, one of them quoted from Guideposts, which in itself speaks volumes. They were not the worst stories one could tell from the pulpit but they could have been clearly made Christological, but sadly were not. The first story told of a Scottish soldier who gave his life for his platoon and yet it was not taken all the way by the preacher by portraying the soldier as a “little Christ.” The sermon was also not textual and it was hard to figure out how the specially chosen readings all hung together and also how they hung around the theme of forgiven.

There is much more to say about the service and the sermon but that will have to wait. Overall the spirit of the confessional delegates is off the charts. But of course the spirit of the delegates is meaningless when compared to the work of the Holy Spirit. May the Holy Spirit grant peace and truth this convention of us simple little Missourians.

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