Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Liturgy and Hymnody Review: Sacred Choral Music


The Voices of Anam Cara. James Jordan, Conductor. Inscape: Choral Music of Gerald Custer.  Chicago: GIA Publications, 2008. Audio CD. $15.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)
 

The Voices of Anam Cara. James Jordan, Conductor. Angels in the Architecture.  Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Audio CD. $15.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)

Ruff, Anthony, OSB. Canticum Novum: Gregorian Chant for Today's Choirs. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2012. 230 Pages. Paper. $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)

Ruff, Anthony, OSB. Canticum Novum: Gregorian Chant for Today's Choirs. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2012. Audio CD. $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)


Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola. The Chants of Angels (Gregorian Chant). Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2011. Audio CD. $18.95. www.paracletepress.com (LH)

McCabe, Michael. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2012. Hymn Anthem for Organ, Trumpet, SATB, and Congregation. $2.20. www.paracletepress.com (H)

Halls, David. Ye Servants of God (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011. SATB [sheet music] with organ, congregation, and optional trumpet. $3.10. www.paracletepress.com (H)

Lau, Robert. Sing, Ye Faithful (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011. SAB [sheet music] with organ, congregation, and optional trumpet. $2.20. www.paracletepress.com (H)



More traditional sacred choral music fills this review. Let's get started!

With this recording, Gerald Custer firmly establishes himself as a major talent in choral composition. Gloriously performed by the voices of Anam Cara, conducted by James Jordan, this CD is simply breathtaking.

As beautiful as this music is, most is readily accessible to high school and college choirs, and is published as part of GIA’s Evoking Sound Choral Series. This project is a culmination of a remarkable friendship and true synergy between Custer and Anam Cara.

Writes Jordan: “I hope this recording will serve to introduce you to this honest, fresh, and gifted compositional voice. Gerald Custer is an amazing combination of composer, poet, and scholar, which produces choral music of not only great beauty but also profound message…As choral musicians, we all know that great choral music takes us on such profound inner journeys.”

This recording certainly achieves its ambitious goals.

Gerald Custer is an award-winning composer known for his deeply lyrical and melodic choral compositions. He is presently Director of Music at the First Presbyterian Church of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
(Publisher's Website)
Borrowing the term "inscape" from the language and poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the voices of Anam Cara, under the direction of James Jordan, explore the inner human landscapes of the soul.


I mentally divide the disc into four segments that work well together as a whole ranging from grief and despair under the law and suffering to comfort and peace in the grace and love of Christ Jesus:
  • Hymns of Christ and the soul
  • Yeats texts
  • Elizabethan Lyrics
  • Spirituals
A highlight is track 5, a Scottish lullaby translation of Luther's Vom Himmel Hoch!




Anam Cara's soaring and heavenly vocals continue on our next disc.




"...the composer list reads like a veritable Who's Who among leading 20th Century and contemporary masters...On top of these peerless performances, we get pristine recorded sound and a solid [CD] booklet...Choral music just doesn't get any better than this."
—Lindsay Koob, reviewer for
American Record Guide (November/December 2010)
"...a magnificent outpouring of intimate and forceful choral artistry."
—Gramophone (September 2010)
Premiere recording of Blake Henson’s “My Flight from Heaven”

In this brilliant audiophile recording from James Jordan and the Voices of Anam Cara, composed of singers from his Westminster ensemble, The Westminster Williamson Voices, it is truly the angels that are in the details.

Jordan selects his favorite works by the great masters of choral composition… and then pairs each work to its ideal acoustical environment. The choir is joined on the recording by organ virtuoso Ken Cowan and Eric Schweingruber, trumpet.

The seven-second reverb in the Immaculate Conception Church in Trenton, New Jersey, to the pristine resonances of The Lawrenceville School Chapel, The Girard College Chapel, the Philadelphia Cathedral, and St. Clement’s Church in Philadelphia provide the stunning acoustics for this musical and sonic adventure.

This recording includes two works by Moses Hogan, “Wade in the Water” and “Ole Time Religion,” a tribute to Hogan’s musical genius. The premiere recording of “My Flight for Heaven” by Blake Henson is destined to be a classic. This recording also includes one of the rare recordings of the choral masterpiece by Sandstrom, a mystical setting of "Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.

Works by Morten Lauridsen (Sure on This Shining Night), James Whitbourn (Hodie), James MacMillan (In Splendoribus Sanctorum), Felix Mendelssohn (Psalm 100), and other master composers make this an essential recording for any lover of the choral arts.
(Publisher's Website)

I found calm and solitude in the midst of stress and traffic while listening to Angels in the Architecture. From "My Flight for Heaven," track 1 to the latter spirituals and Latin of the end of the disc, I was amazed how well conductor Jordan's attempt to "record works in varing acoustics that would match the aesthetic of each piece" worked out. This demonstrates the fruit of the conductors GIA text books in the real world.


The liner notes also answered my questions about what Anam Cara and her conductor had been up to since our review of their previous recording years ago. 


We are very pleased with these two recordings and how well they represent the best of traditional choral sound in the modern world. We commend GIA for bringing them to the public and for making sheet music available for choirs and congregations (and secular audiences) to enjoy.


GIA is also the source of our next two resources, a book and CD pair on gregorian chant, the original mission and title of the Gregorian Institute of America!


 
From renowned chant expert and scholar Anthony Ruff, OSB, comes an incredible collection of Gregorian chant for choirs. The book contains 100 hymns and antiphons with psalm verses for every season and occasion. Word-by-word English translations of the Latin responses are provided to aid the singers’ understanding. The psalm verses are in Latin and English on facing pages with easy-to-follow pointing to match the psalm tones. The English psalm verses are from the Revised Grail Psalms. A demonstration recording of chants from Canticum novum is also available. This disc provides a very helpful model of singing these chants, while representing the broad range of chants in the complete collection. This groundbreaking work is sure to become a foremost resource for teaching and learning chant.
(Publisher's Website)

The recording provides twenty exemplar changes in Latin and English to get a choir, small group, or solo singer started. This is a pair of resources usable among Lutheran Christians with a patient, informed, and brave choir director.


The facing-page format works well for those who do not yet read Gregorian notation or understand or sing Latin. Learning both Latin and Gregorian chant was a long-time goal of mine. I made progress to that goal as a younger pastor thanks to the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood and their Brotherhood Prayer Book. If I had the choir budget, I would purchase enough copies of PBP and Canticum Novum to bring back Gregorian chant for today's choirs.




Sticking with Gregorian chant, we next consider a recording distributed by Paraclete Press.

GloriƦ Dei Cantores Schola presents The Chants of Angels. Using the ancient melodies and texts of the early church, each Gregorian chant depicts a new aspect or story of these heavenly guardians, guides and friends, from the most intimate plea to our own guardian angels, to the great announcement made to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. For those who are new to Gregorian chant and for seasoned scholars, The Chants of Angels allows listeners to simply close their eyes, and be surrounded by these songs of prayer and comfort -- just as they are surrounded by angels. (Publisher's website)
I am convinced that Gregorian chant is among the forgotten, neglected, and still recoverable treasures of the Lutheran church. Lutherans regularly used Latin in worship until the days of J. S. Bach. 

It may well be enjoyed simply for its beauty. It aught to be enjoyed in the act of singing. And it can and should be appreciated for its Divine Truth. It is good to join angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven in chants of praise to Christ.

The accompanying liner notes are a work of art, both beautiful and informative, complete with English translations of the sung Latin!


Finally, a word must be said about the Hymns of Praise Anthem series from Paraclete Press.


http://www.paracletepress.com/sheet-choral-hymns-of-praise.html

We were provided with three review copies of hymn anthems for three or four part choir, organ, congregation and trumpet:
  • Ye Servants of God
  • Sing, Ye Faithful
  • All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Anthems of this sort, involving the congregation, would be a great way to highlight a Hymn of the Day or introduce a hymn new to the congregation. I have not yet heard any of the three sung by a choir, but sitting at the piano for the purposes of this review, I very much enjoyed these settings.  

Sing to the Lord a new song! Since Christ Jesus is our eternally New Song, it matters not whether the song is brand-new from a composer's pen or Finale software or if it is merely new to us. Sing we of Christ always!




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

LHP Review: ALPB Releases


Jenson, Robert W. On the Inspiration of Scripture. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2012. 67 Pages. Paper. $TBA. http://www.alpb.org/inspiration.html (LHP)  

von Schenk, Berthold. The Presence: An Approach to the Holy Communion. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2010. (Previously published by New York: Ernst Kaufmann, Inc., 1945, 1946.) 173 Pages. Paper. $12.50. http://www.alpb.org/presence.html (LHP)


Our friends at American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have new titles in their catalog. Here are two releases we had yet to read and review.



What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?

For many Lutherans, the inspiration of the Scriptures is mostly about why the Bible is rightly the source and norm for the church's teaching.

Robert W. Jenson, a life-long Lutheran and widely respected theologian and teacher, believes that this approach to the subject of the inspiration of the Scriptures obscures more than it illuminates. In this small book he first examines where this traditional approach falls short and then begins the process of constructing something more helpful to our understanding.

What is obscured, according to Jenson? For one thing, the actual "interests" or subjects of the Scripture itself: the stories, liturgies, visions and the rest of what is in the Bible which goes well beyond directives and information. For another, the continuing overarching narrative from Genesis to Revelation of God's action to save the world. For yet another, the actual uses the Spirit makes of Scripture in the church for worship, for preaching and meditation.

In the chapters devoted to building his new approach to the doctrine of biblical inspiration, Jenson considers what a religion's scripture is, how the Spirit's actions in the Old and New Testaments differ, Old Testament prophecy, the Old Testament's concept of inspiration, the Spirit in the Trinity, the Spirit's action in the church, and the narrative of the Scripture.
(Publisher's Website)

I do not see completely eye to eye with Dr. Jenson. We are not in fellowship. And I have concerns about his dogmatics text that deserve their own treatment on an other day.

As I ready On the Inspiration of Scripture, I asked myself, "Who is the intended audience of this little book?" Former students of Professor Jenson are now in multiple Lutheran church bodies, though most likely remain in the ELCA. I can easily believe that this book is a continued conversation with them. I'll leave the LCMS as a body aside for the moment. 

Perhaps Jenson himself is the audience and this unique slender volume is an insight into a conversation within himself, reflecting on his moderately pietist upbringing, his journey to and through the ELCA, to these later life thoughts on how Lutherans should (should have?) speak about Holy Scripture as God's Word. 

I must admit some discomfort moving from familiar terminology and concepts to new constructs or "construals." That's only natural. A healthy skepticism is a good thing in theology. The true value of this text by Jenson will be the discussion it generates in larger Lutheranism. No one can predict where that will lead. Is this on par with Sasse's Letter 14? We'll see.


The more reviews I do, the wearier I get in reading blogs that break the Eighth Commandment while purporting to uphold preservation of pure doctrine as a whole. It reminds me of the "drunk peasant" of Luther's writing who is pushed into the opposite ditch in order to "protect" him from falling in the one nearest to him. Being persecuted does not make one right any more than sinning while warning people against another sin is righteous.

Our next title is The Presence: An Approach to the Holy Communion by Berthold von Schenck. This isn't a brand-new title. It's a reprint of a primary book by a pioneer in liturgial renewal in the Lutheran church.

In Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review Volume 1, Issue 4, Angels’ Tide, 2007, we reviewed von Schenk's autobiography. It is reproduced below for your convenience and comparison.



Liturgy Book Review

Fry, C. George and Joel R. Kurz, editors. Lively Stone: The Autobiography of Berthold von Schenk. Delhi, New York: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2006. 152 Pages. Paper. $12.50. www.alpb.org (607) 746-7511 (L)


The Church lives under the cross. Such a statement might be surprising to a theologian of glory, but not to a theologian of the cross like the Rev. Berthold von Schenk. The parishes he served (and the condition in which he found them) were all on the brink of closure.

As John Hannah notes in the Forward, “….confessional revival did not extend to parish worship life” (5). This is unfortunate, as is the “Eucharistic minimum” that also prevailed. Upon reading the history of the Saxon migration, one mourns for those who died when the ship Amelia was lost at sea. In addition, one mourns in a different way for what the liturgical life of the LCMS could have been if the vestments and other liturgical traditions aboard had not been lost.

The editors do well to warn the reader about being shocked or infuriated by what he or she may encounter in these pages. (11) I could do without references to the LCMS as an old female dog (101), and unbecoming comments about J.A.O. Preus (104), Walther, Pieper, and others. Luther and Zwingli’s disagreement at Marburg was far from nonsense, as von Schenk claimed. (126) Perhaps he may have seen things differently after a conversation with Hermann Sasse, or after reading This Is My Body. Then again, perhaps not. The topic of children’s Communion (136) is again a topic of discussion in the LCMS. The author also was critical of what he called “Missouri Biblicism.” Maintaining pure doctrine is not loveless legalism. It is not an end in itself, but as a book title teaches us, Theology Is for Proclamation. Personally, I would much rather have the sermons of Oswald Hoffmann and Walter A. Maier and the theology they confessed than those of Von Schenk’s heroes, Norman Vincent Peale and Harry Emerson Fosdick. I agree with the author that the Reformation was unfortunate, but disagree with him in that it truly was necessary. (143)

The editors show common cause between von Schenk and his Atlantic district and the Wyoming district in opposing “church growth” techniques, which Von Schenk recognized as “none other than ‘the New Measures’ of the Old Frontier being readapted in the days of the New Frontier” (17).”Those living along the Willow Creeks have no sympathy for one who prophesied by the Streams of Babylon.”

Commenting upon his seminary training, Von Schenk speaks about Theodore Graebner’s opinion of liturgical theology. “His original judgment was that liturgical practices were adiaphoristic. There were many others who, like him, looked upon the liturgical revival only as a restoration of traditional ceremonies.” (30). Why ceremonies? He answers, “The primary reason I introduced ceremonies, liturgical vestments, and so forth, was not because they were intrinsically important—their introduction had the purpose of bringing color and beauty into the lives of people who lived in the ugly environment of the slums. Why should the Church not be concerned about beauty? Most of my members belonged to the disinherited class. By nature I am not a ceremonialist and ritualist, yet there must be form. It was natural that I should give thought to the form of the liturgy. I had to give my people beauty of form and worship, but sadly, this was misjudged by others” (47). When he needed a new vestment, he thought, “Why not purchase a cassock an surplice with stoles?”

Walter E Buszin and Arthur Carl Piepkorn both appear on page 116. Both played significant roles in the worship life of the LCMS. (Piepkorn’s gold cope was still in occasional use at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis when I graduated.)

Von Schenk had a passion for stewardship (64) and Evangelism (123). He saw leitourgia, missio, and diakonia as marks of the church. Consider “Do this in remembrance of Me,” “Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom,” and “serving all who need Him, especially the socially and economically disinherited” on pages 97ff and 124ff.

For an example of a “simple liturgy,” see 128, what Von Schenk considered to be “the most important contribution which I made.”

I am grateful to the ALPB for the publication of this book and welcome similar books in the future that highlight our Lutheran liturgical heritage as Christians, and those like Berthold von Schenk who retained, restored, and patiently taught others to love the gifts the Lord delivers to the people He gathers around Word and Sacrament. Even though not everything is said in the kindest way, this autobiographical volume is worthwhile, though a book to be read while putting the best construction on everything.

PJC
Disagree with von Schenk if you need to. Let's not be disagreeable about it.

Would you believe that under the LCMS Koinonia Project there is a plan underway for two conferences between the pastors of the Wyoming District and the Atlantic District? It's true! And I propose that The Presence be one of the books for pastors of both districts to read before we get together next Spring.


Berthold von Schenk (1895 - 1974) was a gifted parish pastor of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The Presence, originally published in 1945, brought to a wider audience what he had been meditating on and teaching his congregation for years about the meaning of Holy Communion for them and for all Christians.

What von Schenk believed about Holy Communion was thoroughly grounded in the Bible and in the historical Confessions of the Lutheran Church. But it led him toward, not away from, other Christians. Holy Communion was the way that Jesus kept his promise to be with his Church always, even unto the end of the world. "Do this," he had said, "in remembrance of me." Holy Communion therefore ought to be celebrated not just occasionally but on every Sunday and feast day of the year.
God did not just become incarnate long ago at Christmas; Holy Communion brings God incarnate to us today. Jesus did not give himself for us only long ago on Calvary; in Holy Communion Christ gives himself to us today. Pastor von Schenk shows how all the events of Christ's life confessed in the Apostles' Creed-his birth, his death, his resurrection, his ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit-are all present for us in the Holy Sacrament he gave us.

Paul Robert Sauer is the editor of this new edition. He is today the pastor of the same church that von Schenk served in the Bronx from 1940 - 1961. He found a copy of The Presence at the church. "Some books change your mind," he told a group in a talk about von Schenk. "This one changed my life." He has provided an Introduction and many helpful footnotes for modern readers.
(Publisher's Website)
More frequent celebrations of Holy Communion.

Cassock and surplice with stole.

More widespread use of eucharistic vestments.

An appreciation of the Sacrament as high as Missouri's for the preached Word.

The reminder of the cross "For you, for you."

These are among the reasons to read and appreciate The Presence. 

As I have written recently, 

I have this strange idea that one can learn from the mistakes of others.

It is possible to learn something from someone with whom you don't fully agree.
It is also possible for many to avoid thinking and doing theology by avoiding difficult subjects.

Because of seeming differences of opinion on those topics, I have seen others therefore disregard the works of C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hermann Sasse, and Berthold von Schenk out of hand.

Their loss, I suppose. I pray you would be edified, challenged, and comforted by [this title].
I also appreciated this book (having read his autobiography) as autobiographical. It has devotional language qualities not unlike Gerhard's Meditations on Divine Mercy. And he taught the LCMS to remember our closeness to the host of heaven, including our departed loved ones who died in Christ, at the altar of the Lor (cf. 121, 113).


The Rev. von Schenk has fans and critics today as during his day. Nevertheless, The Presence is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how and why liturgical and eucharistic practice in the LCMS today is the way it is.


We look forward to new titles from ALPB in the near future.




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

A Contrasts Review: Worship, Mission, and Music


A Contrasts Review is where we contrast very different kinds of material
to better understand them all.

Begbie, Jeremy S. and Steven R. Guthrie, Editors. Resonant Witness: Conversations Between Music and Theology (The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. 497 Pages. Paper. $34.00. www.eerdmans.com (LHP)

DeYoung, Kevin and Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011. 287 Pages. Paper. $15.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)


The best thing about writing book reviews is that I get to read.

Let me rephrase that: I have to read.

Books are a necessary part of being a pastor. Piles of unread books are unsightly...and embarrassing. 

Third try: The best thing about writing book reviews is that I have to read (and review) because there is accountability. I owe it to myself. I pray that my opinions are helpful to both author and publisher and are neither too harsh nor too kind. And I am thankful to the readers of Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review for enouraging my habit and hobby all these years.


Two very different books are the focus of our attention today, one by Eerdmans and the second by Crossway.

Series: Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies (CICW)

Resonant Witness gathers together a wide, harmonious chorus of voices from across the musical and theological spectrum to show that music and theology can each learn much from the other -- and that the majesty and power of both are profoundly amplified when they do.

With essays touching on J. S. Bach, Hildegard of Bingen, Martin Luther, Karl Barth, Olivier Messiaen, jazz improvisation, South African freedom songs, and more, this volume encourages musicians and theologians to pursue a more fruitful and sustained engagement with one another.

Contributors:
  • Jeremy S. Begbie
  • Bruce Ellis Benson
  • Alastair Borthwick
  • Daniel K. L. Chua
  • Nancy van Deusen
  • Margot Fassler
  • Steven R. Guthrie
  • Carol Harrison
  • Trevor Hart
  • C. Michael Hawn
  • Joyce Irwin
  • John Paul Ito
  • Anthony Monti
  • David J. R. S. Moseley
  • Michael O'Connor
  • Catherine Pickstock
  • Richard J. Plantinga
  • Robert Sholl
  • Nancy van Deusen
  • John D. Witvliet
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
Academy of Parish Clergy, Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry (2012)
(Publisher's Website)

I have made no secret that I have struggled with the content, style, and relevance of previous volumes of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship Liturgical Studies series. Of the volumes we have reviewed to date, this is by far my favorite.

No, I didn't care for a Darwin reference (342), but it was a positive one that showed essayist and editor Begbie's point as from a hostile witness.

My three favorite essays in the collection were on Bach (because I've seen his copy of the Calov Bible Commentary), emotion (not to be confused with faith or fact), and "Wisdom and Song," coincidentally by volume editors Steven R. Guthrie and Jeremy S. Begbie (one of QBR's favorite authors--Resounding Truth).

Perhaps the attitude of this volume's Introduction (and quote from Mann's Faustus) wil guide future volumes in the series:
It is better to get a headache from exercises in canons, fugues and counterpoint than from confuting the Kantian confutation of the evidence for the existence of God. Enough of your theological spinsterhood!

Our Resonant Witness in both music and theology is to preach Christ. Kudos to Begbie and Guthrie for accomplishing both in this book. Recommended.


Preaching Christ is the mission of the Church. Doe we really need another book on the topic?

Yes.



Kevin DeYoung (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He is the author of several popular books, including Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church.
Greg Gilbert earned his BA from Yale and his MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is senior pastor at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, the author of What Is the Gospel? and the co-author of What Is the Mission of the Church?


Christians today define mission more broadly and variably than ever before. Are we, as the body of Christ, headed in the same direction or are we on divergent missions?

Some argue that the mission of the Church is to confront injustice and alleviate suffering, doing more to express God’s love for the world. Others are concerned that the church is in danger of losing its God-centeredness and thereby emphasize the proclamation of the gospel. It appears as though misunderstanding of mission persists.

Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert believe there is a lot that evangelicals can agree on if only we employ the right categories and build our theology of mission from the same biblical building blocks. Explaining key concepts like kingdom, gospel, and social justice, DeYoung and Gilbert help us to get on the same page—united by a common cause—and launch us forward into the true mission of the church.
(Publisher's Website)
Like the editors of the above book, authors DeYoung and Gilbert probe the concepts of "mission" and even "missional" (21). I will differ with them on the meaning of baptism (46) in Matthew 28, but not their assertiion that both baptizing and teaching are part of making disciples for Jesus.

Without depriving you of the joy of finishing the book and the authors leading you in their way to a conclusion that returns the focus of the Church in Mission to doing Jesus' mission, allow me to share their "preliminary conclusion" (62):
The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.

I commend this volume for consideration by church body mission boards, seminary mission professors, mission societies (like Lutheran Womens' Missionary League) and pastors and laypeople confused by a focus on anything at the expense of the Gospel. Stephen Neill said it well: "If everything is mission, nothing is mission."

Recommended.




 

In summary, both books reminded me of this quotation by John Piper:


“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever…Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions” (17).

Piper, John, Let the Nations Be Glad, Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003. 256 Pages. Paper. $14.99 www.bakerpublishinggroup.com




The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.