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ReClaim worship conference opens with session on home devotions

ReClaim’s fourth annual worship conference, under the theme “ReClaiming the Home,” opened June 13 at Luther Seminary with a “family singspiration.” Gracia Grindal, professor of rhetoric at Luther, facilitated a demonstration on leading home devotions.
According to its Web site, ReClaim “is a Lutheran ministry equipping congregations to make Christians.” It is likely best known for the worship resources it produces, especially hymns and liturgies which will eventually be compiled in a full-service Lutheran hymnal.
Grindal used one such resource, “Hymns & Songs for Families,” in her presentation. The introduction of this 32-page manual states, “Luther taught it was the duty of the head of the family to hold devotions in the morning and evening.”
To this end, Luther offered a very simple formula for home devotions in his Small Catechism: “hymn, Scripture, catechism, hymn, and morning or evening prayer.” Such a routine would provide added meaning and greater discipline in learning the faith, Luther believed.

The value of music in the home

Grindal stressed the importance of familiarity with music and responsive readings in home devotions. The catechetical portion of the devotions included responsive readings from the Catechism.
Symbols are also important. Grindal noted the strong emphasis on the sun rising or setting in much of the music of the Reformation. This both reflected “Christ’s coming in our life,” said Grindal, and the emphasis of daily devotions on the early Reformation church people.
Many familiar children’s songs are included in “Hymns & Songs for Families.” Such classic Sunday school songs as “Zacchaeus,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “The Wise Man Built His House Upon a Rock” are included, and hand motions are encouraged as a means of helping children remember the message. (Clearly, many of the adults present relied on hand signs to remember the words of these tunes from their youth.)
In the early days of Lutheran worship in the Midwest, “pastors would often come out to farmhouses to quiz the kids and see how well they knew those songs,” Grindal stated. In that way, the pastor would know if the parents were adequately teaching their children the faith.
“Hymns & Stories for Families” is a resource that can encourage such behavior today.

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