Monday, October 7, 2013

Divine Service Explanation #4 - Invocation

The Invocation that begins our Divine Service is a simple act of devotion that confesses the name of the Triune God around whose Word and Sacraments we are gathered. The pastor says:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
These words are drawn directly from Scripture (Mt. 28:19) as part of Christ’s command to His apostles to “make disciples…baptizing them….and teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”  Ever since the time of the apostles, the ministers of Christ have been baptizing people with water and these words.  The baptized, in turn, have been gathering every Lord’s Day (or more often) in order to “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  The baptismal formula begins the Divine Service, just as Baptism begins the Christian life.

“Invocation” is the act of calling upon or appealing to someone.  There is a two-fold “calling upon” in the Invocation.
  • First, by using the baptismal formula, the pastor calls upon the congregation of baptized believers to remember the seal God has placed on us in our Baptism where He first brought us into Christ, forgave us our sins, gave us new birth into His family, and placed His Holy Spirit upon us to renew us each day in the image of Christ. 
  • Second, we baptized children of God call upon our Father in prayer, asking Him to accompany us in the Divine Service with all the blessings won for us by the Son and now about to be distributed to us by the Holy Spirit, through the minister, in Word and Sacrament. It is only by virtue of God’s baptismal promises that we poor sinners dare to come into God’s presence to seek mercy from Him in the Divine Service and to give Him thanks.
As the pastor speaks the words of the Invocation, he makes the sign (☩) of the cross, either over himself or over the congregation.  Every baptized believer is, at the same time, encouraged to make the sign of the cross over him or herself as a personal confession that, “I, too, am baptized into Christ, clothed in His righteousness, and I have come to this Divine Service to receive help and mercy from Him.”

Divine Service Explanation #1 - The Purpose of the Divine Service
Divine Service Explanation #2 - The Church Year and Lectionary
Divine Service Explanation #3 - Liturgical Vestments


Joel Lillo said...

Of course, this was never a part of the historic Western Rite. It was not a part of Luther's Deutsche Messe or Formua Missae. It came in the Pietistic era when they introduced the general confession of sins -- a prayer that began in the traditional way for the beginning of a prayer -- "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

Daniel Baker said...

Actually, Joel, the Invocation is part of the Preparatory Rite that precedes the formal start of the Mass (i.e. the Introit) in the Western Rite. It predates the Reformation, though you are correct in stating that Luther seemed to omit the preparations in his ordos. But then, a lot of what Luther prescribed wasn't maintained in actual practice by Lutherans in the period of Orthodoxy, which was always decidedly old-school traditional. After all, if we were following Luther's prescriptions, we'd have the Sanctus after the Verba and a separation between the Distribution of the two Kinds. While some of that may have merit, the fact is that we in American Lutheranism have decided in Common to maintain the more ancient tradition.

Joel Lillo said...

Wow! Luther had innovation in his orders of service! Good thing we don't follow his example!

Anonymous said...

Luther also made sure that the people were focused on Christ instead of themselves. Isn't that a swell idea!

Bryan Lidtke

Joel Lillo said...

It is possible to focus on Christ in a service using contemporary music. I've seen it happen.

Daniel Baker said...

The few examples I cite above aside, Luther's Latin Mass can hardly be accused of innovation, since it retains nearly all of the Liturgical canticles and Propers in their Pre-Tridentine order. His "innovations" in the Liturgy of the Sacrament were intended to keep the emphasis on Christ, as Bryan points out, rather than on the abomination that came to be known as the Sacrifice of the Mass.

As for the German Mass, it must be remembered that Luther was charting new waters. Even still, the basic form and flow of the Mass was retained. That's more than can be said, for example, of the communion rites in Christian Worship. What's more, Luther intended for the Latin and German Masses to be used side-by-side. The one would lend explanation and understanding to the other. That is a far cry from using a rotating cycle of liturgical rites for the sake of variety and innovation itself, as is the norm today.

Joel Lillo said...

What's wrong with the commuion rites in Christian Worship?

--Joel Lillo ( I keep forgetting that my Google account doesn't reveal my full name)

AP said...

Pastor Lillo,

I would agree with you. It is possible to focus on Christ using contemporary music. The Hymn, "In Christ Alone" is fairly contemporary for example. However, I think it is less likely that the focus will be on Christ, most especially because so much of contemporary music and worship formats come from sectarian sources that reject the means of grace and the very fundamental of what Lutherans hold to be proper worship.

Daniel--I have some issues with the current WELS hymnal, but I would also be curious to know what particularly you find objectionable about the CW communion liturgies.

Aaron Palmer

Joe Krohn said...

In my Small Catechism under prayers, Luther strongly encourages making the sign of the cross when praying the morning and evening prayers if I am not mistaken since the prayers invoke the Trinity. Since Luther predated the Pietistic Era, 'that dog don't hunt".

Daniel Baker said...

Well, since the can of worms is opened, I think I'll reproduce my submission to the WELS hymnal project's call for suggestions. It does a good job of summing up what I find wrong with the hymnal's changes to the Liturgy:

One of the greatest fundamental problems with Christian Worship and Christian Worship: Supplement is their failure to retain the historic congregational propers of the Western Church. These 5 historic chants (the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia/Tract, Offertory, and Communio) help set and guide the tone of the day's worship, and allow the congregation (or, by way of proxy, the choir) to speak/chant/sing the Word of God with their own lips as a eucharistic response of praise and confession of faith. The lack of these propers in recent decades has deprived a generation of WELS young people of this vital connection to the historic Church, Lutheran or otherwise, and has resulted in a lack of coherence in the Divine Service [note: this is no more obvious than in the total collapse of the Entrance Rite in CW/S. The lack of the Introit resulted in the editors of CW merging the Entrance Rite with the Preparatory Rite. This turned the Kyrie into little more than a repetition of what is prayed in CW's Confiteor (i.e. "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner"), rather than a prayer for grace which is answered by the Gloria. This, of course, also lessens the Gloria's significance, which then becomes easily replaced by other lackluster and innovative "songs of praise"]. Moreover, in light of the fact that these propers have been retained by the new hymnals of all other Confessional church bodies, including our own sister Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, it is apparent that their omission in our circles is a grave error.

Other liturgical issues with CW/S stem from their creation of many [new] forms or rites rather than one unified rite with varied settings. The point of having an Ordinary is so that the text is *ordinary* week after week, without change. While there are occasions where using a varying rite can be warranted (such as using the chorale settings of the Canticles from Luther's German Mass), generally speaking the text shouldn't change. What we have now inspires congregations to have a different "ordinary" every week of the month, if not beyond. It also provides rationale for pastors to do their "own thing," since they're only following the hymnal's lead. The rites we have should be condensed to one form.

Another fundamental problem is the fact that many of the newer rites are based on the papists' revisions to the Liturgy made in "the spirit" of the Second Vatican Council. In terms of the actual liturgy, this is most apparently seen in the adoption of a 3-year Lectionary [and the translation of certain liturgical texts (such as "Glory to God in the highest," "and also with you," "Holy Lord God of power and might," etc.)]. While Luther himself advocated for a new Lectionary, the fact is that the Lutheran Church as a whole was perfectly content (and found value in) retaining the historic 1-year Lectionary until the papist revisions of the Second Vatican Council. Shameless mimicking of the papists should not be something we aspire toward.

[continued in next post]

Daniel Baker said...

[continued from previous post]

Finally, I just wanted to comment on some other omissions/changes to the CW/S rites (aside from the omission of the Propers) which I think must be rectified. In reverse order:

1] The omission of the Salutation and Benedicamus at the end of the Liturgy is odd. Its use in the Lutheran Church was prescribed by Luther himself and is retained by all other Lutheran church bodies. Regarding the Salutation in particular (and this holds true wherever it occurs in the Liturgy), the omission of the "spirit," which is Biblical in origin (2 Timothy 4:22), should be changed [as noted above, its replacement, "and also with you," is papal in origin].

2] The omission of the Gloria Patri in the Nunc Dimittis is also odd. I read on the WELS Q&A that the Gloria Patris were omitted from the Nunc Dimittis and the Divine Office canticles because its presence was an Anglican addition. But this is false. The Gloria Patri has always been used in the Western rite at the Divine Offices, and its use with the Nunc Dimittis in the Divine Liturgy is wholly salutary [and actually of Lutheran origin]. It should only be omitted during Passiontide.

3] Likewise, the omission of the Lord's Prayer in the Consecratory rite is a grave error. The Lutheran Fathers vehemently argued for accompanying the Verba with only the Lord's Prayer because of the famous statement from St. Gregory the Great (Book IX, Letter 12) to the effect that this was the historic practice of the Apostles themselves. [The Reformers saw it as sufficient in lieu of the abomination that was the Canon of the Mass.] Making the Lord's Prayer part of the General Prayer as we have it in CW/S removes its inherently consecratory overtones.

4] Speaking of the General Prayer, the General Prayer utilized in the Common Service of 1888 should be happily restored to our rite. It is proper to have an unchanging form of prayer in this place, since the things we should be praying for are ever the same (but a place for special prayers and petitions is also made available).

5] The revision of the Preparatory Rite (Confession/Absolution) in CW/S takes out much of its original form as known in the Common Service and the historic Western Rite, including the versicles and references to Holy Baptism. [It also changes the forms of the Confiteor and Absolution. Why the changes?] It seems to me that this would be well reversed.


Aside from some concluding remarks, that was the extent of my submission.

AP said...


Thanks for sharing your submission--very well said and instructive. I hope the hymnal committee takes what you say to heart.


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