The invitatory: teaching us to pray the Psalm

I’ve been listening to the current series on Issues, Etc. on the daily prayer offices, with Pastor Wil Weedon. If you haven’t, I recommend them to you, even if you consider yourself to be an expert on them.

Listening to Pr. Weedon’s discussion on the Venite (Ps. 95), which is an integral part of Lutheran Matins and Morning Prayer, the following detail struck me:

The Invitatory, which introduces the Venite, is a great tool for teaching us how to pray this Psalm – and by extension, all the Psalms.

Psalm 95 itself is an invitation to God’s people to “sing to the Lord“. Who is this Lord? To this, the Invitatory provides the answer.

The common Invitatory simply blesses “God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. O come, let us worship Him.” Fair enough.

But if you use the seasonal Invitatories, the worshipper’s eye of faith is drawn to greater details:

Advent: “Behold, the Lord comes to save us. O come, let us worship Him.”
Christmas: “Lo, to us the christ is born. O come let us worship Him.”
Epiphany: “The christ has appeared to us. O come, let us worship Him.”
Lent: “The Lord has redeemed His people. O come, let us worship Him.”
Passiontide: “Christ became obedient to death, even death on a cross. O come, let us worship Him.”
Easter: “The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! O come, let us worship Him.”
Ascension: “The King ascends to heaven. Alleluia! O come, let us worship Him.”
Pentecost: “The Spirit of the Lord fills the world. Alleluia! O come, let us worship Him.”
Holy Trinity: “The Lord has called us by the Gospel. O come, let us worship Him.”
Post-Pentecost (Trinity 1–Trinity 19): “The Lord has called / gathered / enlightened / sanctified us in the true faith. O come, let us worship Him.”
Michaelmastide: “Glorious is God with His angels and saints. O come, let us worship Him.”
End of church year (Trinity 25–27): “The Lord will come again in glory. O come, let us worship Him.”

See what’s going on? We aren’t directed only to the glory of the Triune God, but to the specific offices of the Divine Persons, chiefly the redeeming work of the Son (Advent–Ascension) and the sanctifying work of the Spirit (Pentecost–Trinity 19).

This is the Lord whom we worship: He who comes to us not in the abstract, but in the specific work of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He is YHWH of Sabaoth.

As we confess in the Athanasian Creed: The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Spirit is Lord. Yet there are not three Lords but one Lord!

I suppose I have arrived

… having appeared on Issues Etc. They interviewed me about Lutheranism in the United Kingdom. I wasn’t 100% happy with how it went on my part, but I hope it’s not entirely unhelpful. And if people know a little more about the joys and challenges of being a Lutheran in the UK as a result, that’s good enough.

It’s that time again

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Pro-life or in favour of life?

Issues Etc., keeping to a persistent theme, has been featuring a series of interviews on the subject of abortion, specifically on the moral facts (yes, I mean that) of abortion and on ways to argue about (i.e. against) abortion. They are excellent and well worth listening to.

It has bothered me for some time that, in contrast to many of their US counterparts, European Christians tend in general to be incredibly impassive when it comes to abortion. Whether because of a misconceived privatisation of morality or mere lethargy, the pro-life movement in this country (UK) and seemingly elsewhere in Western Europe, a pretty well kept secret. I hold myself as a textbook example of a Christian to whom abortion is an abhorrent crime and sin, yet do very little about it in practice.

My thinking on this was sharpened a notch listening to Melvin Bragg and guests discuss the life and thinking of Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau, often credited with the articulation of the concept of civil disobedience, made the crucial observation that to be opposed to something creates an obligation to oppose it. It’s no good just deploring it in the privacy of one’s home.

So throw away your WWJD bracelet and replace it with WWYD (what will YOU do?). Luther in the Freedom of the Christian reminds us that while God doesn’t require our services, our neighbour does. The more defenceless the neighbour, the greater the need, as in the Good Samaritan. And who is more defenceless than the unborn?