Article I wrote on making the sign of the cross

Enjoy: Making the sign of the cross

Why Make the Sign of the Cross?

 by ME

“Why make the sign of the cross, isn’t that Roman Catholic?” was a common expression I heard when I was in the parish. I responded first by mentioning that Luther’s Catechism teaches us to make the sign of the cross. “The catechism doesn’t teach that,” they say. I respond by “Look up Luther’s morning and evening prayer and the meal prayer. What does it say?” Actually making the sign of the cross is one of the oldest traditions in Christianity and it spans across the world both in the Eastern and Western hemisphere. Why is this practice so important that among other practices, Luther would teach the young to make the sign of the cross and consider it fundamental because of its inclusion in his small and simple teaching of the catechism?

My Grandfather grew up in Altenburg (Perry County), Missouri and became a pastor. In his day, those who made the sign of the cross were considered as “Roman Catholic,” “liberal,” or people who flaunted their religion. There were also practices that differentiated Lutherans and Roman Catholics such as the crucifix compared to the empty cross and certain outward gestures. Today there is a movement back to the fundamentals such as Lutheran doctrine, liturgy and practice. This is done in the face of an American culture where religion itself is becoming a melting pot of practice and belief. In our day those who make the sign of the cross may now be considered conservative or in other words, “confessional” in their beliefs.

What is making the sign of the cross all about? A huge paper could be written on this subject. Here are some considerations however. The Scripture consider the cross as the center hinge of our faith in which our life revolves. It is precisely there that our salvation was won for us, not on Easter but on Good Friday. But yet many of our churches are half-empty on Good Friday but full on Easter. Truly Easter is a joyful day but it cannot been seen outside of Good Friday and vice versa but in a strange way many tend to avoid the crucifix or the “crucified Christ” as the center of our confession and therefore miss the Good Friday experience. St. Paul says that he preaches nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified which is accompanied with many other passages that convey this very important Gospel of the cross (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Christians made the sign of cross for a number of reasons. One because it was the center of our confession and marking us as one redeemed by Christ thus pointing us back to our Baptism. It is at the cross where God revealed Himself to us through His Son so we make the sign of the cross while naming God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Secondly we make the sign of the cross on our body. Christianity is a flesh and blood “religion”, not merely a spiritual one but a very physical one. The main job of the Holy Spirit is to bring Christ to us in His flesh and blood through His Word and Sacrament. The sign of the cross is made upon our body knowing and confessing that God has redeemed not only our soul but also our flesh, that is, our bodies as we confess, “I look for(ward) to the resurrection of the dead (body) and the life of the world to come.” Since our flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of God, Christ gives His flesh and blood as a replacement.

Also the suffering and death of Christ has become our own in Baptism. St. Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (ESV, Roman 6:3) and “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (ESV, II Corinthians 4:11-12) Again, what was once Christ’s now has become our own in Baptism. So we sign ourselves as one marked as redeemed in death but in death we see life. So in some of the old movies you may see a Christian, in the face of demon possession or something terrible, make the sign of the cross, marking themselves with the mark of salvation in the face of evil. There are also other times in which Christians traditionally make the sign of the cross during the liturgy and daily devotions. Ask your pastor what the practice is at your church.

In conclusion, being a Christian does not mean that you have to make the sign of the cross, on the other hand, we should not treat such practices as if it was merely an old Roman Catholic tradition or something of no real importance. It is a very central confession and substance of our faith in the true God who has come to us through His Son for our life and salvation.

The Rev. John Dreyer is an Admission Counselor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. This article originally appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Thy Kingdom Come, a quarterly newsletter for young men considering the vocation of the Office of the Holy Ministry.

Joy and Happiness

A few weeks back I was sitting with one of my fellow members before the service at my church – telling him my theme of my sermon. He cleverly pointed out that there is a difference of being happy in life and having joy.  Joy is always with us as Christians but we may not always be happy with things in life.  After preaching I became aware of how often joy is mentioned in the liturgy; also for years I broke liturgical tradition (oh, oh) by adding to the words after receiving the Sacrament, ” … depart in peace and joy for your sins are forgiven.” Sometimes people ask, “Are you happy with life?” Not always, but am I joyful, yes. This is key for the Christian in good times and in bad, don’t miss the point!

– My Facebook post 5/18/13

 

Eero Saarinen: Shaping Community

At Concordia Theological Seminary (Fort Wayne), community is in the forefront of who we are,  from are academic structure to our understanding of formation.  The person who designed the campus is a guy named Eero Saarinen.  This link is very helpful in giving an unbiased and brief description  of his vision for the campus.  Link    For your convenience, I copied the portion on the campus below:

Architectural Concord

In 1953, a few years into the GM project, Saarinen was commissioned to design an entire campus for a new Lutheran college in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Concordia Senior College was originally a two-year school intended to prepare students for seminary graduate study. The 191-acre site was flat and visually unremarkable, so the primary burden of establishing both an identity and sense of community would have to be borne by the architecture and planning.

In 1958, Saarinen noted, “The solution seemed to lie in the village-concept: a group of buildings that would have a quiet, unified environment into which the students could withdraw to find a complete, balanced life and yet one which was related to the outside world.” The final design was inspired by a Scandinavian village and was visually unified by the use of pitched roofs throughout, consistent orientation of building axes, and a common materials palette, including diamond-pattern brick walls and black roof tiles. As at GM, Saarinen included a man-made lake, in which the central chapel would be reflected, as a focal point in the plan.

Project records show that Saarinen was intimately involved in the Concordia project, signifying his particular interest to create a community that was a place of both learning and living, similar to what he had enjoyed at Cranbrook. In a memo to his staff, he envisioned the college “as a very closely knit group of buildings” and gave extensive thought to how spaces would be utilized, from the way professors conducted their classes to the routes by which students would move about the campus. For example, while the school administrators originally wanted the students to be housed in three large dormitories of 150 students each, Saarinen proposed smaller houses for 36 students each, arranged in clusters, remembering later, “We hoped that this intimate housing would encourage real student responsibility for the group within each house.”

Concordia reflects not only the influence of Saarinen’s years at Cranbrook, but also that of his father. Eliel Saarinen taught his son to design for the “next largest context—a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, environment in a city plan.” In the case of Concordia, with its featureless site, Eero looked to the community’s identity for inspiration. While the project’s individual buildings are considered by many to be among his least inspiring, through thoughtful groupings of buildings, sensitive landscape design, and careful arrangement of private and communal spaces, Saarinen successfully imbued the campus with a sense of place that reflected and enhanced its communal character.

 

 

Just watched again, “Young Törless” by Volker Schlöndorff”

I watched Young Törless awhile back and just watched it again.  It’s in German but with subtitles for those of you who do not know the German language.  When I first watched it, I didn’t think it was that good of a movie.  But watching it again and watching a commentary on the movie, I appreciate the movie a little more than before.  The movie depicts a power struggle, in this case, among students. The dynamics of this movie became intriguing but different than movies such as the “Lord of the Flies” or other similar movies.

There are two leaders, one who represents the ideologue, who spoke in spiritual or religious ways about being privileged and the like. He had a side kick, someone who executed his orders.  Then they needed someone to be against, a victim if you will.

There was a guy who was somewhat of an observer of events, and when things went too far, he became an accomplice to the events that have taken place simply by being an observer.

One can easily see this scenario having been played out in history or even our own day.  I believe it is a mistake simply to see this movie merely about a victim of society.  It is important to see the whole matrix of events and their interplay.

It may not be worth to go out of your way to watch this movie.  It was interesting none the less.  This movie was made in 1966, depicting a boarding school in the early 1900’s. I however have a lot to say about the dynamics we see in this movie for our own day.

I will be reading the book called, “The Confusions of Törless” by Robert Musil

"Young Törless," a movie by Volker Schlöndorff

“Young Törless,” a movie by Volker Schlöndorff

Symposia: The Good Old Todays! A Short Narrative

As a kid I visited Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.  My Grandpa was born and grew up in Altenburg, MO and went to Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  But I also heard about Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne.  My Dad, who was a VP of AAL, would speak at the Seminary graduation diners sponsored by AAL.  In high school, I would go with my Dad to CTS graduation dinners and afterward my Dad, Rev. and Mrs. Dr. Scaer, Rev. and Mrs. Dr. Maier, and President Preus and his wife and I would go out after the graduation meal.  I was really honored and impressed by these professors as a high school aged kid.  President Preus, while I was in high school, sent me a signed book that he wrote on the Confessions.  I was a public school kid who loved (and still loves) theology.  My Grandpa died when I was three but I got a lot of his books when I was in Jr. High.

When I was a pre-seminary student at Concordia River Forest (CUC) it was a little different than it is today.  I was in the Pre-Seminary program but there was no pre-Sem gatherings and I wasn’t really sure who was the “director” of the program.  The Seminaries really didn’t have visitation days and once or maybe twice a year the Sem reps would show up on campus at their perspective tables with seminary information.  Each Seminary had a guy who took care of applications.

Since from my freshman year from what I recall, a few of my friends and I would jump in the car for Fort Wayne’s Symposia.  I called the Sem ahead of time and they paid for our registration fee and food.  We found lodging somehow.  I think my first year I went I slept on the floor in a seminarian’s room.  One year I crashed at my friend’s home, and I think  the later years, the Seminary gave us rooms to stay in.  During my college days at Symposia, I learned how to discuss theology, familiarize myself with modern theological conversations, and I met great confessional theologians from around the world at the Fort (CTS).

The best way I could describe CTS and her Symposia is that it is all about the theological community.  Profs, students, visiting pastors, and I would discuss theology bonded by a common Confession from morning to night.  While at the Symposia as a college student, three big named professors including Prof. Scaer and President Preus would invite me and my comrades to their house as they entertained their symposia guest. The Symposia at CTS (I believe the oldest and largest Symposia in the Synod) was a annual gathering of good friends, great theological conversations, great worship and food.   But also at the Symposia I had the opportunity to hear other great theologians from all around the world.

By the time I entered into the Seminary at the Fort (CTS), I was no foreigner, for I was already part of this community, already nurtured by great theologians as Dr. Scaer, President Preus,, Dr. Weinrich, Prof. Marquart and the list goes on.

Who would think this spirit of the Symposia at CTS would live on today in a very changing world. Thanks to a our president, President Rast we continue on with the Symposia spirit, as we continue to invite college students to the Symposia beginning their seminary formation while yet in college.  Not only would the symposia participants be able to attend lectures but also to worship with us during the various offices offered throughout the day and evening.

Yes, the Symposia is the  “good old todays!” It is a time to engross oneself in good theology and Gemütlichkeit and reunite with good friends! All in the Name of Christ.  Pax Christi!

Lectures will come on Angelology

Lectures will come on angelology (angels, demons, poltergeist, Christian struggle, exorcism, et al)  but probably mid-February or so.  I plan to put together video clips, not as clever as Fisk (or others) but basic vids that will cover various topics.

 I will announce when I begin to post my vids. Feel free to either get on my twitter, registrar your email with my blog for updates located the below, right on my blog, or keep an eye on my Facebook.  I will anknow me, otherwise don’t bother (I get a lot of request of people I cannot verify).

In Christ,

– Curate

Passing by Oneself

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars,and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Saint Augustine

In our own day it appears that people just go with the flow of things in a culturally manner, trapped by the movements and situations of the day.  Frequently I believe people don’t stop to consider what this life is all about, they go past themselves.

This blog is …

You see on the upper right hand of this blog the purpose of this blog, I added the word “reference” awhile back. Meaning, this is a blog you can use for reference such as the bibliographies that I am developing.  But now, I will have other writers and contributors to my blog page.  So, in time, you will experience more posts and the like.  I will also by slowly adding some of my lecture notes into this blog.  Not the entire lecture but some outline or notes from the lecture.  So stay tuned!!!

 

Even though one is away, a person still represents one’s home, work or nation

Captain Jack Aubry:

“And we are worth more to them undamaged. Their greed… will be their downfall. England is under threat of invasion, and though we be on the far side of the world, this ship is our home. This ship, is England. So it’s every hand to his rope or gun, quick’s the word and sharp’s the action. After all… surprise is on our side”

Movie:  Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World