The Catechumenate, the Rite of Vocation and BJS, by Pr. Rossow

Every so often one gets a little gift in life and the liturgy that makes you smile. I had just such a gift at the Divine Service yesterday.

A few years ago our congregation conformed its new member transfer and adult confirmation process to the form of the historic catechumenate. During the last mode of the catechumenate, the mystagogy (pronounced mist-a-gojy), the adult confirmands are folded into the congregation through the rite of vocation. It is not about their secular vocation but about their service in the church. During the several weeks of the mystagogy phase various lay and rostered leaders of the congregation make presentations to the confirmands about the various service opportunities in the parish. The confirmands are then asked to make a commitment to the area(s) in which they will serve (ushers, day school room mother, properties, committees, etc.).

We have also started using a version of the mystagogy mode for transfers into the congregation and that is where my nice surprise came yesterday.

We received new members by transfer yesterday and as a part of that rite we included the rite of vocation. There was a wonderful array of parish vocations announced. A few people agreed to help out with church properties. One person agreed to be a room mom. There were some church office volunteers also and then came the surprise. We have been blessed with the transfer in of a recently retired deaconess. When it came time to announce her parish vocational work we heard that she would be helping out in member care and the Brothers of John the Steadfast (BJS). BJS is still so new to me that I forget that it is one of the service opportunities in our parish and so it is a pleasant surprise when I hear that someone will be serving the parish in this area. I am hoping that our new volunteer can help us get a chapter of the Sisters of Katie Luther started in our parish. By the way, there were actually two new transfers into our congregation yesterday that are directly or indirectly related to our work with BJS.

As the years go by, maybe it won’t be such a surprise to me. If you would like similar surprises in your parish, take a look at our Organizational Page and consider starting a BJS chapter in your parish.

In case you were wondering, here is the rite of vocation that we used in the service.

THE RECEPTION OF NEW MEMBERS AND THE RITE OF VOCATION (11:15AM)

P:         Beloved in the Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ said to His apostles: “Whoever confesses Me before men, I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”  Lift up your hearts, therefore, to the God of all grace and joyfully give answer to what I now ask you in the name of the Lord.

P:         Do you this day in the presence of God and of this congregation acknowledge the gifts that God gave you in your Baptism?

R:         Yes, I do.

P:         Do you renounce the devil and all his works and all his ways?

R:         Yes, I renounce them.

P:         Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, and in the Holy Spirit?

R:         Yes, I believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

P:         Do you hold all the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, drawn from them and confess in the Small catechism, to be faithful and true?

R:         I do.

P:         Do you intend to hear the Word of God and receive the Lord’s Supper faithfully?

R:         I do, by the grace of God.

P:         Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word, and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even to death?

R:         I do, by the grace of God.

P:         Do you desire to become a member of this congregation?

R:         I do.

P:         Will you support the work our gracious Lord has given this congregation with your prayers and the gifts God has given you?

R:         I will with the help of God.

P:         Upon this your confession of faith, I acknowledge publicly that you are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and of this congregation.  Receive the Lord’s Supper and participate with us in all the blessings of salvation that our Lord has given to His Church, in the name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C:        Amen.

P:         Dear friends in Christ, all who are baptized are called by the Holy Spirit to offer themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord.  We do this in joyful thanksgiving for the new life received through the forgiveness of sins.  As members of the body of Christ, we work together in service of the Lord’s ministry, each taking our own part in the life of the church. It is therefore fitting to bless those who have joined our congregation, acknowledging their commitment to serve and praying that our merciful and gracious God would support them in their callings and keep them steadfast in the true faith.

Hear now how our brothers and sisters intend to serve with us in His kingdom.

The pastor addresses each new member individually.

P:         (Name), we are blessed that you are now a member with us in the congregation and that you have chosen to serve Bethany in ___(area of service)___.

After all have been named and their vocation in the congregation stated, than all new members are addressed:

P:         Both your work and your rest are now in God.  Will you endeavor to pattern your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith toward Him and fervent love to your fellow man, at morning and evening, at work and at play, both in your vocations in the world and in your vocation as a baptized member of this congregation?

R:         I do so intend with the help of God.

C:        Blessed be God who chose you in Christ.  Let us hold true to what we have attained, holding fast to the Word of life.

P:         Let us pray.

            Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for Your great goodness in bringing these Your sons and daughters to the knowledge of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, and enabling them both with the heart to believe and with the mouth to confess His saving name.  Grant that by Your Word and Spirit they may continue steadfast in the one true faith in the fellowship of this congregation as together we await the day when all who have fought the good fight of faith shall receive the crown of righteousness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C:        Amen.

P:         Go in peace.  Be of good courage.  Hold to what is good.  Love and serve our God, rejoicing in the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  May the God of peace equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.

C:        Amen.

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.

Comments

The Catechumenate, the Rite of Vocation and BJS, by Pr. Rossow — 5 Comments

  1. This is really nice Pastor. Maybe if more churches attempted to teach, the problems that crop up would not be such a big deal and easily quelled. I always liked unfinished Christians as a definition of mystagogy.
    Andrew

  2. How did you come about your catechuminate program? Did you adapt the RCIA yourself or was there some other form that was available to you?

  3. Pastor Rossow,
    As I posted above, I really do think this is a right and proper thing to do. What would you say to detractors who would want to condemn a pastor who adapted the RCIA model?This is not the same thing as adapting reformed theology into CW for Lutheran churches, but I could see CW supporters attempting to say your church did the same thing in essence. Just pondering.

    Hid in Christ,
    Andrew

  4. Andrew,

    Great question. The RCIA model is fairly theological neutral. It mostly consists of steps that are done in the liturgy (welcome, baptism/confirmation, right of vocation). We have been able to adapt it quite easily into our parish life.

    TR

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