Anthea's Lutheran Ramblings

thoughts and observations from an evangelical turned confessional

Lutherans on YouTube
Luther Rose
Confession time: I love YouTube. From Vlogbrothers and Nerdfighters to Julia Nunes to random vloggers to covers by Kurt Schneider and Alex Goot, I watch a lot of content created by a lot of different types of people. Recently, I added a couple of Lutherans to my diverse list of YouTube subscriptions, and they have both been great additions.

First and foremost, I cannot recommend Pastor Fisk's Worldview Everlasting videos enough. He posts insightful, well researched, relevant videos that are also entertaining enough to make their 15-20 minutes fly by. He posts around two videos a week, which helps feed "your favorite YouTube addiction" quite nicely.

On Greek Tuesdays he walks through one of the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday, explaining the translation, appearance, and meaning of a selection of Greek words within the context and with a Lutheran explanation. I especially love these because it gives me some good food for thought to contemplate the rest of the week. And, having recently been walked through the reading, I find myself better prepared to listen to my Pastor read and preach on Sunday morning.

Here's last week's Greek Tuesday on John 20:19-31:

Fridays bring AskdaPastor2.0, as Pastor Fisk responds to questions he receives from viewers about topics like drunkenness, dating, and law & gospel. These are great especially for learning Lutheran theology, often in contrast to other theological views (like double predestination or TULIP) that are really confusing, on topics that don't often fall into the standard Sunday morning Adult Bible Study.

Here's one about TULIP:

And now for something completely different: The other Lutheran addition to my YouTube subscriptions is Pastor Fiene's The Lutheran Satire channel. There are a lot of videos in this style currently: poorly computer-animated figures have awkward conversations with each other. These videos are satirical and often hilarious and he has a few "series," like Things Your Lutheran Pastor Totally Loves, An Honest Conversation, and Super True Stories.

Things Your Lutheran Pastor Totally Loves: Hearing Complaints from "Some People"

Learning Hymns
Luther Rose
This year, I got myself a gift for Easter: a brand new Lutheran Service Book. I was generously given a copy of The Lutheran Hymnal by my pastor when I first started my catechesis, but never picked up a copy of the LSB when it started appearing in the racks on the pews of the churches I attend. It has been so great finally having a copy in my nightstand to reference, I can't believe I let myself go without one for this long! I've been able to take my bulletin home and go back and re-read the text of the hymns we sang more easily - which, naturally, has led to more often.

This may be surprising, but as a musician, I have found hymns especially difficult to learn. I get distracted by anticipating the correct melody, I find myself noticing elements from my music theory classes at work ("Wow, look at that 6-5 resolution!"), and the tall stacks of drawn out words are sometimes difficult to decipher. Also, hymns are so infrequently repeated, they aren't as easy to call up as, say, the liturgy which we sing every week or the praise & worship songs I sang in my former churches.

All of the things that make hymns difficult weren't a factor in the contemporary services I used to attend. The repetitive praise & worship songs were projected in giant letters without music. The same song, which was not only repetitive within itself, was also likely to show up in the set list week after week after week. Also, it probably was on one of the many Hillsong-type recordings I kept in rotation in my car's CD player.

Switching suddenly to hymnals, orders of worship, and hymns was a shock to my system, to say the least. For a while, I thought I would never get hymns, that their depth would forever be lost on me. Recently, though, I've started to be able to look at the words and see them in phrases instead of columns. I've picked up enough hymn tunes that I'm increasingly able to get my eyes off those pesky notes. A few have been repeated enough over the years that I find myself able to recall larger portions of them and I get kind of excited to see them show up in the rotation. And, as a result, I've found many of them to be the insightful and meaningful songs (not to mention theologically sound - the best difference!) I've suspected they were and just couldn't figure out. What a joy!

I am far from having hymns mastered, to be clear, but I'm finally recognizing progress in a very long process that I never anticipated facing. I think my problem all along - and this goes for many aspects of liturgical worship - has been my expectations. Having a service with so much content is a lot harder to learn and lacks the immediate gratification I was used to. It takes time to learn these things, but it is worth the effort, especially when the big picture, such as entire stanzas of these beautiful hymns, starts becoming more clear. It's just going to take time and patience on my part, and more referencing that shiny new book on my nightstand.

Anyone have tips for learning hymns? Leave them in the comments and help me out.

A note on the purpose and future of this blog:
As a convert to Lutheranism from Evangelicalism, I have not a unique, but an atypical, lens through which I view my church. Now, a few years into this whole Lutheran thing, I've had enough space to look back more analytically and a growing desire to start sharing the view (and some nice support from my facebook friends - thanks, guys!). So, I'm using this blog as a chance to get my thoughts and observations out there. I'm planning to keep updating once a week on Sundays. I have a growing list of topics saved on my desktop, so... tune in next week, if you'd like! :)

My first Lutheran sermon
Luther Rose
I will never forget the first time I noticed a Lutheran sermon. I had grown up attending a liturgical Episcopal church, and had attended services at many, many denominations over the years going with friends' families when I slept over or playing my flute for some special something or another. I had also attended many, many Lutheran services and had attended a "Lutheran" high school. In fact, I represented the school on "Lutheran High Sunday" at almost every LCMS and ELCA congregation in town. The point is, it wasn't the first Lutheran sermon I heard (probably), it was just the first one I noticed.

I think at this point I was in college and home for some break. I went to church with my friend and his family to their church. Everything was pretty normal for the whole service, more or less the same as the Episcopal services I was familiar with. Lots of standing and sitting (no kneeling, though), lots of singing, all leading up to the sermon.

But, this sermon was different. In this sermon, the pastor talked about what God does for us - I mean, beyond the obvious "Jesus died for you" stuff. He kept saying things like we go to church to receive the gifts God gives us there, not for what we bring to God, and how He saved us and it wasn't through anything we did. I was shocked, offended even!

I had learned the Jesus stuff a few years before, and had been literally living my life based completely on: "Awesome! I believe and accept Jesus died for me and saved me! Okay, what now?? How do I show God that I'm a Christian and want to please Him and grow in my walk every day getting closer to Him?" I had been going to church to learn how to be a better Christian, and this pastor was saying the opposite. He was saying all my work was in vain and that church was there for God doing things for us!

When we were on our way to the car after the service I turned to my friend and said something along the lines of, "I can't believe the pastor said that stuff in the sermon! About the point of church being about what God does for us [note: other than the Jesus thing, God always did that]!! That was so crazy!!"

I was fully expecting him to say, "I know, right? That was insane!" Instead, his face seemed to reflect my shock as he stared at me for a few seconds and then sort of shrugged and said, "Um, I think that pretty much is the point."

It would be another 5 years or so before I would change my beliefs about the purpose of church. And it was a long and ugly battle of my righteousness versus God's gifts. But, I will always remember that shocking morning vividly.

Question Everything: On Being Lutheran (Now)
Luther Rose
This began as a Facebook note, but I thought it was worth giving more public access, after the response on Facebook. As one who converted from what I would call mainstream Evangelical Christianity to Confessional Lutheranism a few years ago, these are the things that struck me thinking back on it this week.

After converting to Lutheranism 6-ish years ago, I rejoiced in finally having a theological foundation on which I could base my understanding. I didn't have to "figure it out for myself" anymore. I didn't have to wander from church to church to church looking for one that "had the right fit for me" or that was *really* based on the Bible only (uhhh....) or challenged me in just the right way. The Lutherans were *right,* and so I didn't need to look around anymore. Huzzah!

I've been reminded recently, though, just how this decision has been viewed by my Christian friends: like I'm insane. Not only did I join a church they viewed as antiquated and exclusive (Communion), but the idea of fully embracing an entire theological perspective without *knowing* every detail of it is *dangerous.* Because how can I trust it's right without taking each element and turning it over, digging it out, and deciding for myself how it should be interpreted?

I'm writing this tonight based specifically on two things that happened this week.
1. I read this blog entry (, reminding me of exactly how church used to be for me - and why I'm glad it's not like that now.
2. I mentioned to a Christian friend that I had been watching the Worldview Everlasting videos on YouTube about some Lutheran view on some topic or another. And he said to me, "Oh, what view does he have?" and I said, "The Lutheran one." He asked me to remind him what that was, so I explained in brief the Lutheran view and he said, "oh, sounds like this guy has a pretty good understanding." At which point everything came crashing down on me...

I forgot how *individual* Christianity is out there.
I forgot that church services were about the pastor's personal Biblical convictions primarily and trusting him was good, but also to be continually tested, in case the church down the road might be better.
I forgot how defining Christianity is for you to do for yourself - hopefully coming to the "right" conclusions along the way.
I forgot how I used to think someone who "blindly" followed a church's (denomination) beliefs was unintelligent or weak of faith or both. (Lord, have mercy.)

When my friend was talking about "this guy," he probably meant "this guy's personal understanding of the Scriptures, which if he's doing it right is drawn from all manner of Biblical resources and insights, ultimately choosing for himself what the right answer is." The idea of drawing from Lutheran sources only is closed minded and foolish, which is probably how I appear to him.

I say I'm a confessional Lutheran, but there's a lot of the Book of Concord I haven't read. There are plenty of aspects of Christianity and being Lutheran that I just plain can't explain or haven't even given that much thought to. I'm a sham.

It doesn't mean I won't read all the confessions someday or learn how to speak more intelligently about my faith. But *that* doesn't mean that I will analyze every word of everything I read or hear, looking for the loopholes or errors or to decide whether or not it's right. Instead, I'll read with the hope of learning something new, and I'll continue to depend upon my pastors and Lutheran friends to guide me along the right path and not lead me astray.

In light of these reminders, I cling all the more, as one weak in so many aspects, to the hope of Jesus' forgiveness of my failings - apart from my feelings today about it, or my deep understanding of it. I remember now how scary it is out there, and how I want to hide under a pew from all that stuff I used to walk in. While being the crazy abandoner of my friends is hardly fun or easy (and has gotten no easier), I can bear that when it means confidence that God is present each week in Communion, declares His forgiveness through my pastor, and speaks through His Word, which is read in abundance.

Why the Journal? Why Lutheran??
Luther Rose
Hello, I'm Anthea, and I'm a Lutheran.

I've been around livejournal for nearly 5 years now and I've found myself waffling about the content of my journal. It has settled mostly on the "these are the current events of my life" sort of thing so I am going for something different here - a place to allow some of my thoughts of a more religious nature to air.

I thought I'd kick off this whole party with a few thoughts on becoming a Lutheran, apart from all my friends (save one) and family, at the age of 23. I became a Christian when I began attending a "Lutheran" school in 8th grade. I wandered relatively aimlessly from church to Bible study to prayer group to church for about 10 years.

In college, one of my friends decided he wanted to become a pastor in the LCMS. He and I spent hours and hours arguing, debating, questioning, and talking about theology. He became more and more Lutheran and I stubbornly refused to consider it. Eventually, we graduated, he moved to Fort Wayne and out of my life. I moved home and continued searching for the "perfect" church - no easy task when you're not sure what it is you're looking for. I considered all of the conversations I'd had with my friend over and over and in August 2004 I decided it was time to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I would only be happy in a church that treasured the things I had come to desire - the Sacraments properly administered and salvation apart from works.

I met my pastor for the first time at a coffee shop. I started attending my church. I went through confirmation class (I was the sole pupil) and in March 2005, I was confirmed. I have only recently began to find Lutheran friends - mostly via the Internet. The joy and comfort I have found in my church is wonderful. Having a church home is something I longed for for so long. I am so grateful.

I am far from a theologian, but I find theology fascinating (not to mention incredibly important!). I love talking about it, thinking about it, and learning more of it. I hope to be able to write about some of the things I appreciate that I have learned here. I always welcome feedback, though I will also say that I do not debate. I am naturally a shy person who's come a long way towards being outgoing, but it's easy for me to retreat into my shell when prodded. :)

Anyways, that's the quick version of my becoming a Lutheran. Now onward!


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