WELS Hymnal Project

How Different Will We Be?

I was still a child when I noticed it for the first time, and it struck me. As the son of a pastor, I had grown up in the WELS bubble: I never attended a school or a service that wasn't WELS. The first time I went to a non-Lutheran church, it was right after I got out of early service at my home congregation. When worship started at this other church, I couldn't believe it. They used the same scripture lessons we had that morning. They called the Sunday by the same name. One of the prayers even sounded really close to what I had heard. What, did they get a hold of my dad's service folder? Blatant plagiarism! Or — a wilder thought to my young mind — are we actually doing the same things on purpose? I thought we were different!

Well, we are different from other church bodies, but I found out that morning that we aren't completely different. Our doctrine might differ radically in some areas, but in the Christian calendar (Advent, Lent, etc.) and the lectionary (the assigned readings), we were part of something bigger. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized that the Holy Christian Church was bigger than the WELS. It reminded me that, while real scriptural differences mean we can't fellowship with those church bodies right now, one day the whole Holy Christian Church will worship together in heaven.

We use a Christian calendar and a Christian lectionary because they enable us to share the whole counsel of God with the congregation in a pattern that emphasizes the life of Christ and the teachings of Christ. As an added blessing that pattern ties our worship to the historic Church and gives echoes of the unity we will enjoy with all Christians in heaven.

Establishing the Christian calendar and the lectionary will comprise a large part of the work of the Scripture Committee. We need to answer the question: how different will we be?

Key areas under consideration would include items like a review of Christian Worship's season of End Time. Should we continue to celebrate a season that is unique to the WELS? Another will be a review of the supplemental lessons that were published in Christian Worship: Supplement. Many have appreciated the increased use of Old Testament stories for the First Lesson. Others have appreciated that the supplemental lessons closely follow the theme of the Gospel, resulting in a tightly unified service. Should we continue to provide up to five lessons for each Sunday, or should we provide only three? Which three would those be?

Our committee will also wrestle with issues like the texts of the Lord's Prayer, the Creeds, and the songs of the liturgy. We will focus on translation and language to ensure that Scripture is used in a consistent, Christ-centered, confessional Lutheran way. And finally we will explore the daily lectionary and a possible commentary on the lectionary.

Thanks for your interest in the project. Your prayers for our work would be appreciated. So also would be your ideas and comments. Please make use of the contact form to share your thoughts.

About Jonathan Schroeder

Rev. Jonathan Schroeder is the Scripture Committee Chairman of the WELS Hymnal Project. Schroeder currently serves at Faith in Sharpsburg, GA. Schroeder is an at-large member of the WELS Synodical Council, moderator of the Institute for Worship and Outreach, consultant for both the WELS School of Worship and the WELS School of Outreach. Jon and his wife, Jenny, have three children, Keith, Justin, and Emily.


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