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24 June 2006
  Worshiping with Angels and Archangels

One of "our own" from the blogroll has a new book!

“The Lutheran Church has retained a historic order for the Divine Service. We follow this order not because we believe it is the only right way but because we believe this ancient pattern of worship most clearly and beautifully serves the purpose of the Divine Service, which is to deliver the gracious gifts of God.”

With these sparse but straightforward words, the author begins his introduction to the Divine Service. Worshiping with Angels and Archangels will teach the novice the “whys” of the Divine service and help the layperson in the pew make connections of understanding that will deepen appreciation of the gift that is our liturgy. Pastor Scot Kinnaman presents the complete text of the Divine Service found in Lutheran Service Book. To these he has added foundational Scripture verses and occasionally defines terms. The beauty of the liturgy itself is surrounded by striking watercolors done by Arthur Kirchhoff and calligraphy by Edward Luhmann (who also did the calligraphy in To All Eternity).

Pastor Kinnaman’s narrative continually brings the “for you” nature of the salvation to the forefront; the Divine Service is the means by which God bestows grace on his children. On the page that features the Words of Our Lord, the Verba, Kinnaman writes:

“In the Sacrament of the Altar Christ gives His true body and true blood under the forms of consecrated bread and wine. Once again God’s grace comes to us in the Divine Service. Jesus Himself is present and forgives our sins. This is Good News because Jesus’ Word does what it says.”

Looking at this slim volume, one may wish that it had given more information and more understanding of the parts of the liturgy. Yet Kinnaman’s paucity of words allows the liturgy itself to be easily identified on the page. A beginner, young or old, could literally take this book with him or her to the Divine Service and participate in the liturgy.

At first blush, the book looks like a children’s book. Yet the sophisticated art and the confident writing combine to be appealing to an adult reader as well. I see this book in the classroom as well as beautifully displayed in the home. Its use in youth confirmation or with the adult convert to introduce them to the chief service of the Church seems a natural.

Of all the great artwork, there is one image that I found very arresting—it spans pages 38 and 39. Previously, I knew this image from description only, I have never seen it depicted. I have heard that, especially in the Swedish church, the communion rail was traditionally arranged in a semi circular, the point being that there is a full circle that is completed in eternity, and that in the liturgy of Holy Communion, “for a time the division between heaven and earth is gone. Heaven has come down to earth and all together stands around the throne of almighty God.” Kirchhoff has captured just this in his art. After my father died, Pastor comforted me by telling me that in the Lord’s Supper the barrier between the “now” and the “not yet” is torn down and that Dad and I will continue to commune together for eternity. Looking at this illustration I can almost picture Dad in the throng of saints—just over the pastor’s shoulder, who join with us each Lord’s Day in the marriage feast of the Lamb.

It is a great little book. And at the paltry price of $6.99 there is no reason not to buy several copies to give to those who you care about and who you want to see grow in their appreciation and understanding of this gift we have been given, the Divine Service

Title: Worshiping with Angels and Archangels
Author: Scot A. Kinnaman
Hardcover, 48 pages, full-color
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House
Price: $6.99


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