LBW to ELW – a noteworthy change

I enjoy The Suffrages, a simple rite for responsive prayer found both in Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) and the new Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW).  I have made this prayer rite part of my near-daily personal prayer practice, perfect to use as I ride the train to and from work, or as I take a five minute walk across the hospital.  To help me do this, I created a sheet of paper printed with the prayer text that rests inside the front cover of my pocket Bible.  When I want to pray the suffrages, I pull out my Bible and this little sheet of paper, and I’m set. 

I had originally downloaded the LBW version of the rite, but I wanted to update to the new ELW version.  As I edited the LBW version to reflect the ELW changes, I noticed that the changes were very few and very slight, but not insignificant.  One noteworthy change:

LBW:
Give peace in all the world;
for only in you can we live in safety.

Keep this nation under your care,
and guide us into the way of justice and truth.

ELW:
Give peace in all the world;
for only in you can we live in safety.

Keep the nations under your care,
and guide us into the way of justice and truth.

The change shifts our prayer, our spiritual attention, and our longing for peace to extend not only to "this nation," but to "the nations."  Wonderful, especially in a time such as ours.  A small gramatical change, but a significant change in meaning.

BTW, I also love the translation change in the Apostle’s Creed from "he descended into hell," to "he descended to the dead" (a change that shows up not only in this rite, but throughout the ELW).  Why?  Perhaps because I have a culturally warped sense of hell, and "the dead" lacks the baggage of "hell."  Also, however, "the dead" is referenced later in the Creed, in "and he will come to judge the living and the dead."  The repetition of "the dead" – that Jesus descended to "the dead," and will also come to judge "the dead" – states something about Jesus’ relationship to us after we die. 

It also echoes for me my favorite passage: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).  I know it is not a perfect connection, but in the Creed and in this passage from Romans I hear a comforting reminder of Jesus’ presence with "the dead" – and that nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And so whether prayers have been adjusted to be more inclusive and global in scope, or an ancient liturgical text was re-translated, I am looking forward to the fresh expressions of faith that will come forth in part because of Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

About Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. National Guardsman. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.
This entry was posted in Clinical Pastoral Education, Liturgy, Lutheran, Vocation. Bookmark the permalink.

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