The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A Mighty Fortress--bring it!

I consider myself a pretty progressive guy. But when it comes to hymns, I'm old school. I like hymns that beg me to sing the bass line and immerse myself in the very best of Lutheranism--four-part harmony. I like hymns that make my eyes tear up for no real reason, besides the beauty of the sound and a surreal remembrance of my grandparents singing them beside me. I'm also a pretty competitive person. I like hymns in which we sing about glory and conflict and hope and victory. So, naturally, my favorite hymn is Martin Luther's classic "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."

Sometimes I feel like Luther wrote this hymn just for me. It passes each of my tests. As soon as I hear the introduction, I start to get a little emotional because I know how much I'm going to enjoy singing it. Plus, Luther's lyrics really kick it. It's the Rebel Alliance vs. the Galactic Empire. It's UConn vs. Duke. It's me vs. my wife in cribbage. There is no question as to who the good guys are here. We are. God is. And Luther seems to be talking smack about it. Awesome!

The third stanza is my favorite:
Though hordes of devils fill the land all threatening to devour us,we tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot overpower us.
This world's prince may rage, in fierce war engage.
He is doomed to fail; God's judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.

We get to join in the action. With God as our fortress and Jesus as our champion, we take the field. And that was Luther's thing, wasn't it? We are saved by God's grace alone but through our faith we are called to serve: to feed the hungry, to work toward peace, to attend to the sick, to fight injustice. These are the battles that I get fired up about. Bring it!

There it is--one of the best, harmony-inducing, tear-welling, smack-talking, faith-inspiring songs ever written. Thanks Marty, and thanks be to God!

Check out this week's articles:

Cover1Dying & rising: (right) Baptism signifies our death and resurrection.

To go where we've never gone before: Pruning and death in congregations can bring life.

Phoenix rising: With God, the death of something can lead to change and, therefore, to new life.

'Come good home': Hear the words in the language of love—and be blessed.

Also: After Hurricane Ike, Lutherans respond.

Also: Communal repentance.

Also: What about the ELCA?

Read these articles at our front page ...

Tell us: Does size matter?

You’re invited to contribute to a future story about how ministries differ in large, medium and small congregations.

• What are the gifts and liabilities of a congregation’s size?
• What size do you prefer and why?
• What ministry is possible (and no doubt wonderful) simply because of your congregation’s size?

Send your response (no more than 500 words) to any or all of the above questions to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org or by mail to Julie B. Sevig at The Lutheran, 8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631. Deadline is Nov. 21.

Tell us: Why worship?

The following questions could be for you or for someone you know if you're willing to pass them along:

So you prefer the Church of the Holy Comforter (the one on your bed)?

• If you used to be a regular worshiper, what made you stop?
• How do you feel about your decision?
• If you go occasionally, what draws you?
• What do you miss or not miss?
• How do you tend to your spiritual needs?
• What would bring you back to worship?

Respond to any or all of these questions in 400 words or less to julie.sevig@thelutheran.org.

Deadline is Nov. 17.


This week on our blog:

Sonia Solomonson (right) blogs about change and diversity in the ELCA.


Check out our staff blog ...

The November issue of The Little Lutheran has arrived!

Don't let them miss another issue.Nov LL

The Little Lutheran helps children 6 and younger learn about God's love for them and the world in which they live. It teaches them about Jesus, their friend and savior.

Adults, you will want this for the children in your life. Pastors and congregations, you will want this for education and evangelism. See how you can subscribe for nearly half the price.

Subscribe today ...


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Recent coversDid you know: An individual subscription to The Lutheran magazine is only $15.95 a year and includes a Web membership at no additional cost.

For only $15.95 you'll receive 12 issues of The Lutheran magazine in your mailbox. You'll also receive access to back issues' articles since 1996 and unlimited study guide downloads (regularly $3.50 each) at http://www.thelutheran.org//.

(Congregational subscriptions begin at $7.95 and include Web memberships. Call Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, for details about our congregational plans. 800-328-4648.)

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