Thursday, August 22, 2019

Pastors who formed me. . .


While standing in the exhibit hall talking with an old friend and his family, it was mentioned that his wife was the granddaughter of Bill Wild.  Pastor William Wild was the Pastor of St. John German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yonkers, NY, for many years.  He was bold and robust with an unmistakable German accent to his English.  He died at the age of 100, Thursday March 20, 2014, in New Britain. Born in Germany, Pastor Wild is a graduate of the Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois, and served several congregations in New York, and St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in New Britain, CT, from 1963 to 1967.

It had been so many year since I thought about Bill Wild.  I well recall driving down to St. John when I was first elected to a position in the Atlantic District and installation had been farmed out across the District.  That year Bill Wild hosted the service.  He was a gregarious individual and filled with hospitality for those who had the occasion to visit.  I was there when he retired in 1999.  Perhaps there was nothing particularly notable about Bill or his long life except that he was a faithful pastor.  The congregation which I associate with him is no longer here.  The building dated to 1874 as St. John's German Evangelical Lutheran Church in a day when the German American community was robust and its demolition is one reflection that the remaining vestiges of this community are also now gone.

Howard J. Lincks was another such individual.  Pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church on State Street in Hudson, NY (now remodeled into an expensive home), Howard Lincks was never the pastor of a large parish nor was he ever associated with a very successful one (at least by the standards of size and money).  His legacy lies in being ordinary.  He was simply a good and faithful pastor.  I have in my office a gift he gave to me.  It is a Christus Rex, carved in Oberammergau, Germany, in the years shortly after WW II.  He was there and purchased the good sized crucifix and had it shipped to America.  I still have the wooden box with the custom stamps on the outside and the German straw on the inside.  It may have some value but it is precious to me as I enter and leave my office day and see it as a reminder it is all about Jesus Christ. I think of Howard almost every day.  I am glad to have thought about Bill again after so many years.

It reminds me that pastoral formation is not simply the domain of the Seminary or vicarage.  Pastors are being formed long after the hands are laid and a stole is placed on them.  This formation happens through people of influence.  Surprisingly, they are not always the large figures whose names are well remembered but individuals close to being forgotten as the days pass.  I think of people like Bill Wild and Howard Lincks.  The list could go on and on.  I am not the product of a seminary as much as I am the product of faithful pastors whose impact upon me shaped my understanding of the faith itself and who a pastor is and what he does.  I am still being impacted and shaped now close to 40 years after ordination day.  Nobody begins their life as a fully formed pastor no matter how many folks call him by that title.  So today as I recall Bill and Howard and think of the many others whose life and conversation have had profound effect upon me, I give thanks to God.  If you are a pastor like me, I pray God will give you many Bills and Howards to form you along the way also.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

More with less. . .

There was a day when the headquarters of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was filled with people working.  Now the numbers have shrunk and there are very few people on our payroll but they are doing profound work,  In numbers not of hundreds but dozens, we enjoy the rich fruits of their labors on behalf of national mission, international mission, church relations, and a host of other particular tasks, the work of the Church is being laudably handled by very few hands.  Part of it is due to the fact that the bureaucracy is something we can no longer afford and part of it is that all the layers have proven to be rather inefficient.  But the false idea persists that Synod has a huge overhead of people and expenses.  I am sad that there are those who are so set against the work of those within the IC that they perpetuate this lie out of animosity toward those who lead us or out of cynicism about the work they do on our behalf.

I have the highest respect for those who work there.  They work tirelessly on our behalf.  Their work load is shocking and yet these faithful folks are good, decent, and devoted.  We are ever in their debt for the way they accomplish their tasks for the 6000+ congregations of our Synod.  And they are one face of the many whose service beyond our borders brings the Gospel to places where the Word of the Lord has not yet been heard, strengthens fledgling congregations, mission stations, and partner churches, and teaches those who will become the pastors and church workers to their own people.  The story of mission we celebrated last month at the LCMS Convention is an amazing story of diligence, devotion, and duty under extreme conditions and in the face of an untold odds.  It is a history our people deserve to know -- not for our glory but so that they can rejoice over the sinners who repent like the angels do above.  Our Church will not be able to take the first steps into our future without the acknowledgement of the many fruits of this mission story and this witness to the Gospel is told.  So I urge those who heard it to use the many fine materials available and tell the story within their circuits, congregations, and districts.  We have real heroes and saints among us through whom we see the promise of God fulfilled in places where hope is wanting.  The joy of the Lord that flows from the work of the Lord is greatly need among a people who seem to hear only bad news and who are gravely tempted to believe that God is stymied in His work.  It is still the Lord's work and the Lord's Church.  I rejoice in this especially through the faithful work of those within our national headquarters and our leaders.

May the Lord of the Church bless the work of the Church for His purpose -- near and far!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Why can't we be friends?



Sermon for Pentecost 10, Proper 15C, preached on Sunday, August 18, 2019.

    Isaiah got it right.  “Come, let us reason together. . .”  That is what we want, a reasonable religion, a negotiated faith, a polite dialogue, and a civil discussion in which we all give and take a bit in order to come to a reasonable agreement.  No one likes those rigid folks who refuse to compromise, who insist on all or nothing.  No, we want more than anything to have a reasonable religion that brings diverse points of view and diverse people together, a negotiation in which there are no winners or losers except unity.

    You might think that Jesus would be just the sort of fellow to fulfill Isaiah’s words and bring the disparate and diverse interests, opinions, and desires of the many together into one religion.  You might think that, but you would be wrong.  Jesus is hardly the kind of unifying figure we think He should be.  Instead, He is polarizing.  There is no middle ground.  You are either for Him or against Him.  You either meet Him where He has come or He leaves you behind in the dust.  He is not the leader who is able to over come all division but the Savior who stands for one Gospel and one Gospel alone.

    Do you think I have come to bring peace on earth?  No, not peace, but division – division within nation and community, tribe and family.  It is no wonder that we scratch our heads and wonder what Jesus is talking about.  We have enough dysfunction in the halls of power in church and state.  We want someone who can reach across the aisle to enemies and unite us as one people.  Surely the Messiah would be that man, right?  Then why is Jesus so blunt here about the division He will cause?

    The sword of His Word does not unite but divides.  It is not merely a division between those who believe it and those who don’t but even within churches that claim to believe the Word of the Lord.  People all over Christendom fight over what His Word says and what it means as if it could mean and must mean something different than what it says.  Some presume that the meaning of the words hides a secret wisdom which can be discerned only by a spiritual few.  Others insist it is all mostly myth, legend, and story without basis in fact but only spiritually true.

    Jesus did not come to bring peace.  He came to bring Himself.  It is not His Word that lies at the heart of the great divisions of Christianity but the question:  who do you say Jesus is.  It is not doctrine that divides but Christ who divides the house, setting father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in- law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

A house divided cannot stand, so Abe Lincoln learned from Scripture, but Jesus has not come to prop up the falling houses man has built.  No, indeed, He has come to tear them all down to the ground and to build up a new house of hope based not on what man thinks but what God reveals.  His soul is in distress until that is done, until the religion of works in which man makes himself pleasing to God is buried and the religion of grace in which God has reconciled us to Himself through His Son reigns supreme.

    You might think that Jesus has come to help you with your broken or disordered lives, that He has come to help you make sense of it all and find a way through it.  But that would be wrong.  Jesus has not come to help us fix our broken lives nor has He come to help us find an escape path.  Jesus has come to put to death your old life, kill it dead by drowning it in the waters of baptism and then raising up a new life for which you can take no credit and in which He is all in all.  Does that sound harsh to you?  It may.  Our old Adam is not yet ready to surrender our broken down lives and our sin stained selves.  Our old Adam is not yet ready to give up the fight to preserve what is dying.  But Christ is ready to tear down what is already broken and kill what is already dead so that He may make you new, endowing your life with His invincible strength.

    The sad truth is that we prefer the appearance of unity which masks the great divisions we have over the alternative.  We would rather work to prop up that which is falling than to trust the Lord to build us new and forge a unity from His new creation.  This world is already passing away.  It is not that we will die but we carry around death already in our bodies.  This mortal life has become the long wait for death for a people who confuse this wait for death with life.  Jesus has come to strip away the lies and give us the whole, blunt truth.

    This is not because He hates us.  If He hated us He would surely leave us alone to live our lies and the die the death that sends you straight to hell.  It is because He loves us that He cannot allow the falsehoods and lies we hide behind to stand.  It is because He loves us that He opens our hearts to expose the sins we have worked so to hide.  It is because He loves us that He strips away the shreds of fancy that we call wisdom in order to expose the foolishness of the cross.  This is not judgment but redemption and it begins with the call to honest repentance and confession.  You think your heart is distressed because Jesus has come to hear your confession but His heart is distressed by every moment we must wait for the healing of His salvation to begin anew God’s word and work in us.  He has a baptism to be baptized with, a death to die, and grave to sanctify, and He will not rest until it is done.

Beloved people of God, there is only one thing that matters, that will not pass away.
There is only one thing that is eternal, the Word of the Lord endures forever.  Those who carry this Word in their hearts, who are purified by its fire in repentance, who are washed clean by its water in baptism, who hear in it the voice of Jesus speaking, and who eat the bread of this Word in the Holy Communion, they are forever because this Word lives in them and they live because of it.
   
    God’s Word is not some little book of inspirational wisdom nor is it a simple guide book to get the most out of this life.  His Word is not some flowery and flattering voice but the Sword of the Spirit, that cuts clean.  Because it cuts, it will divide, not simply the believers from the unbelievers but the dead from the living.  Lies will always attract a crowd but truth is often lonely.  Where the Word of God is preached in all its truth and purity, there will be division and discord for it is painful to our ears and hard on our hearts and minds.  It is the Word that is worth a battle, worth fighting for, and worth fighting about.  It is the most precious treasure we have and it will always be a spring board of dispute – that is how much rides upon that Word and its faithful preaching.
   
    God has not come to rebuild our lives from the pieces of our old lives.  He has come to make us new, to create brand new what was not, and to endow us with the future and hope of His own glorious resurrected flesh.  What is this offensive truth that cuts to the quick and makes for such deep divisions – it is that Jesus is Lord and no one else, that there is salvation in the name of Jesus and in no other name, that there are no good works except those done by those who live in Him, that this Gospel is about the sins that must be forgiven and the only blood that cleanses us from all sin. 

    For now we look through the mirror dimly.  We do not see face to face.  We have only to trust in this Word and believe this Gospel, even though our minds find it hard to accept and our hearts still rebel against its voice.  Like Peter of old, we have no other place to go, only Jesus can give us the Word of Life.  Like Luther of old, here we stand. The whole inconvenient truth of this Gospel comes to us not by solid reason or negotiation or combined wisdom.  This comes only by revelation, by the power of the Spirit, and in conflict with the wisdom of this age.  But where Christ is, there is hope and there is life.   Amen.

Blest be the ties that bind. . .

We all know that churches have business to conduct.  Overtures need to be considered and resolutions offered and reports heard and people honored.  It is the business of the Church on every level – from congregation to district to national jurisdiction. It is important though often ridiculed and it is how we order our life and work together at a time when things pull us apart and tempt us to go our own ways and do our own things.  From time to time we must consider difficult subjects and take stands that will offend some and wound others.  It is unpleasant but necessary and even salutary as we mark boundaries that must be marked.  Yet there is another aspect of this business that we dare not overlook.  That is the renewal of our bonds of fellowship.

I have been privileged to attend many of these national conventions and have missed only one district convention over the nearly 40 years I have been a pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I was at the Synod’s Convention a month or so ago.  As I walked down the walkways of the assembly or the halls of the center or around the exhibit hall or went to meals or made my way in and out of the hotel, I was met with outstretched hands and words of welcome.  They were old friendships renewed, acquaintances deepened, and introductions made.  This is who we are.  We cannot simply be boiled down to stands we take or words we speak – however wonderful.  We are people made one in the waters of baptism, that through Christ we might be bound one to another in our walk together through the days to the eternal day.  We are a people who hear together the Word of Life read and preached to bring our hearts to repentance and to comfort us with the grace of forgiveness and to ground us in the hope that will not disappoint.  We are a people who kneel in confession and rise with a clear conscience as a people absolved to confess to those whom we have wounded and to hear the confession of those who wounded us and to absolve as we have been absolved, strengthened by the whole process.  We are a people who together receive the holy and precious Body and Blood of Christ to be fed and nourished for the journey of faith and to have placed upon our tongues the foretaste of the Feast to come.  This happens at every level of our life together and from it flow the unity and fellowship of a diverse people who walk together as the Church of Jesus Christ.   

Of course, every time a vote is taken there are winners and losers.  Too often those on the winning side sin on the side of pride and too often those on the losing side are focused upon their wounds of loss.  It need not be.  This is not about politics but about our faith and life together.  So we cannot afford to be held captive by the sides we have taken but meet together at the foot of the cross where there are no losers but only winners.  Elections have winners and losers to be sure but we do not elect the popular or powerful to honor them.  Instead we elect them to positions of service (most of them without any compensation whatsoever) and call upon them to make great sacrifice for the good of the whole and, indeed, for the sake of the world.  Behind every motion adopted and ballot cast is the great cause of Christ and His saving will and purpose.  For some things this is rather obvious and for others it is somewhat hidden.  But we do not need to be seen or liked in order to serve well the Lord and His kingdom.  Nor can we afford to set certain areas and arenas of service higher than others (recalling St. Paul’s analogy of the body where one part cannot say to the other you are not important or needed).

I hope that we left Tampa with these bonds of fellowship renewed.  Regardless of the resolutions that passed or did not or those elected or not, we came together as the Church to be the Church and we went home to do the same thing.  If Christ and His glory is our goal, our work will bear fruit and God will prosper this work for His purpose and we will have made the only difference that counts.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The man he is by God's grace and promise. . .

The funeral sermon for Chaplain Major the Rev. Shawn David Hunze, preached at his memorial service on Saturday, August 17, 2019, at Faith Lutheran Church, Union City, TN.

What has brought us here today is shock and sorrow, a man whose life was stolen by death too soon.  And we are left with questions and fears, with sorrow and tears.  But as St. Paul reminds us, we do not come as the ignorant who grieve without hope.  Grieve, yes, we mourn our dead and are lonely in the wake of their passing but we have hope.  We expect a future.  We hear the promise of the resurrection.  We know that Christ is raised and we will rise with Him.

You all knew the man Shawn Hunze was.  Sherril knew him as son.  Tim, Tom, and Stephanie knew him as brother.  Rosanne as husband.  Benjamin, Paul, and Abigail knew him as dad.  The pastors here knew him as a brother.  The soldiers he served knew him as chaplain.  The people of Faith and Trinity Lutheran Churches knew him as pastor.  Like the various facets of a shiny diamond, each of us knew Shawn and saw part of him.  Our hearts are warmed by memories.  We cling to them especially when a man so young with so much of life ahead of him suddenly dies.  The past becomes our comfortable home where we retreat because the pain of the loss is so great and shock of its suddenness overwhelms us.

But I am not here to talk to you of the man Shawn was.  For Shawn is not merely a man with a past.  Shawn has a future.  Death has not triumphed over him.  He lives.  Shawn David Hunze belongs to the Lord.  God made a covenant and promise with Shawn in his baptism.  You are mine.  I have called you by name.  I the Lord your God have become your Savior.  I shall not die but live, said Job of old.  And to this living faith Shawn added his own voice when he was confirmed in that baptismal faith as a young man.

Shawn’s legacy to us cannot be summarized by a memory.  Shawn’s legacy to us is life – the life of Christ to which he was joined by baptism and in which he lived by faith.  The life of Christ which nourished him body and soul every time he communed upon the flesh and blood of Christ.  The life of Christ which was the core and center of his preaching and teaching.  The life of Christ which now has rescued him from death and the end and which even now keeps him with God unto that day when Christ shall come in His glory and deliver Shawn and all who have loved Christ’s appearing to everlasting life.

Shawn played a pastor as a young boy.  With his brothers and sister and among his friends, he opened the hymnal and practiced for the calling that would be his years later.  I suspect that many of us who are pastors had such practice.  But Shawn did not simply play act as a pastor, he was a pastor.  He served in parishes near and far and had soldiers as his congregation across the world.  He led the people of God to confess their faith in the words of the creed.  He held children and led adults to the healing waters of baptism.  His voice was used by Christ to call sinners to repentance and to speak absolution to the guilty.  He visited those whom the world forgot in hospitals and nursing homes.  He taught the young and old who had not heard the good news of the Savior who was born to die and who died that we might live.  He gathered people to hope when death came near, reminding them not to grieve as those who had no hope but to find consolation and peace in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

These are not just words.  Shawn may have played church as a child but there was no play acting in his role as a pastor.  Shawn believed these words.  We believe these words.  These words are not just words but the Word of Life that rescue the dying from death and lead us with Christ to our own joyful resurrection and a great and grand reunion with those whom we love who depart this life in faith.  Friends, when you come to church on Sunday morning and confess your sins and hear the absolution, when you confess the creed and pray the Our Father, and when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ, you are not play acting.  This is the most real stuff of life because it is through this life giving Word and blessed Sacraments we meet the life stronger than death in the Savior who died for our sin and rose to give us everlasting life.

Isaiah contrasts the fear of those who wonder if anyone notices when the man of faith dies with the promise of perfect peace and the rest that remains for saints who trust in the Lord.  St. Paul insists that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – not the trials and tribulations of this life, not the powers and persecutions of the enemy, and not guilt of the past or the unknown future.  God makes them work for His end and for His purpose.  Even death has become a pawn in the hands of God, the gate and door of eternal life through which we pass to be with Christ, our crucified and risen Savior.

In the Gospel for today we heard of the God who has compassion upon us.  We are harassed by doubts and fears, seemingly helpless before the world and our enemies, lost and alone, broken and wounded, marked for death.  But Jesus has come for us.  Sheep without a shepherd have found a Good Shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep.  And for this cause there are men are willing to dedicate their lives to His Word, be set apart by Word and prayer for the office of Pastor, and serve as laborers of the Lord’s own harvest.  And some of them are willing to go in harms way with only the armor of God’s Word in order to bring this Gospel to those carry the weapons, who fight our enemies, and who defend our liberty.  God bless those soldiers and God bless the chaplains who support them.

I will not preach to you of uncertainty or doubt.  I will not leave you only to your memories.  I will not surrender Shawn to who he was and the brief days on earth he lived.  I will speak to you today with confidence that because Christ lives, Shawn lives and we shall live with him.  I will promise you a future – a future you must take by faith for now but will someday know with Shawn face to face.  I will not leave you to the tears for a life not long enough but address you with the promise of life that has no end in Christ our Savior.  We are not here because of an end but because Christ has made a new beginning for Shawn.  We confess our faith today so that we will be joined with Shawn and the saints again.   

Rosanne, I cannot even begin to know the pain of your loss or to the wounds you carry at the loss of your husband.  Ben, Paul, and Abby I will not pretend to know the ache in your hearts at the loss of your dad.  Tim, Tom, and Stephanie, I cannot say what it is like to lose your brother.  Sherril, I cannot imagine what it is like to lose your son so young. People of Faith and Trinity congregations, I cannot say how you should feel as you mourn the death of your pastor, the very man to whom you looked to speak hope, forgiveness, and life to you.

But this I can say.  You have not heard the last of Shawn David Hunze.  He belongs to the Lord and death cannot claim him.  He lives in Christ life stronger than the grave.  And when on the last day our Lord Jesus Christ stands upon this earth, He shall reach down His hand in the dust of the earth and bring forth Shawn and all who have died in the faith, and raise Shawn and all believers to everlasting life.  And in the twinkling of an eye, death shall be forgotten, pain shall be no more, and tears will turn to joy.  We shall be reunited with the saints who lived and died in Christ and we shall see our Savior face to face.  We shall wear the new and glorious flesh that Christ wore on Easter Sunday.  And our joy shall be full and our lives complete, without any lack or want or need evermore.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!

The new paganism. . .


The old paganism had imagination.  It was superstitious.  Though the old pagans did not believe in THE God who revealed Himself once for all in Christ Jesus, they did believe in gods, in spirits who controlled a hidden world of which they knew only part.  They knew the limits of their power and authority and were fearful of what was beyond their knowing and their control.  They sought to appease these hidden powers in whatever way reason or ritual might suggest.  Like St. Paul of old found, there was an awareness of and even altars to the unknown gods (perhaps in a just in case scenario).

The new pagans seem not to have this kind of imagination.  They routinely live within the realm of a virtual or digital life.  They may be superstitious but only marginally so and instead of the divine they think more in terms of luck.  They do not believe in the God whom we know through Jesus Christ but they would insist they do not necessarily believe in any gods even through they would claim with equal fervor they are are truly spiritual (without being religious).  What is meant by spiritual changes from one person to another but mostly it means that the person has a spiritual identity which lives past death.  This is a grand unity with spiritual forces scattered throughout nature as well as humanity.  That said, the new pagans do not see the limits of their power and believe they can reason themselves past any mortal barriers with the help of technology.  They are not fearful of where their technology or spirituality (without being religious) will take them but have every confidence that it will be good (better than today).  They do not seek to appease or control these hidden spirits but they do seek to use them for such earthly purpose as happiness and entertainment.

What is most true of the new pagans is that they consider Christianity old  news.  It is not that they have not heard the Gospel but they insist they have heard it all before and rejected most all of it.  Of course, it could be debated whether they have any real knowledge of Christianity at all but they do not believe they are in the dark.  It is not that they have never discovered the God who has revealed Himself in Christ but they think that they have known Him and found Him wanting in one form or another.  The new pagans think themselves wise to the old religions of the world around them and wise enough to see through them and their limitations to seek something better, more well eqjipped to satisfy the quest for happiness, contentment, entertainment, and pleasure.

Theirs is a paganism of worthy causes (climate change, social justice, sexual liberation, etc.,) that take the place of redemption but are ultimately causes that return to them not only the reward of making a difference but improving their own lot.  The sacramental reality they look for are not means of calling to the earth the divine but raising the mortal to a higher and more sacred purpose and calling.

It is a vastly different landscape that Christianity faces today as it looks out upon the numbers of these new pagans and the old approach of arguing them into the Kingdom or reasoning them into considering Jesus may not be all that effective.  Instead, the Church will need to manifest a more profound sense of the transcendent that is accessible through the profound means of grace.  I am not at all saying that the preaching of the Word will be unfruitful and that would be an arrogant statement to make.  What I am saying is that the world will need to see a people living out their lives within the liturgy, kneeling in confession and prayer, raising the voice of praise and thanksgiving, devoutly receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, and joyfully living out their baptismal life as children of God who belong not only to the moment but to eternity.

 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

A tinge of sadness. . .


Now back for a month or so from the 67th Convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, I noted something that had a tinge of sadness to it – something that should have been an occasion for joy.  As is probably customary with many church bodies who have church-wide assembles of one sort or another, from time to time the assembly is called to ring and sing.  In the end the hymn we chose to sing was only one, one not German or Norwegian, or Slovak but English.  The hymn is the Common Doxology sung to Old 100th.

This is not a particularly Lutheran hymn (well, really only one stanza) nor does it flow out of the ethnic heritage of the many Lutheran homelands.  It is a generic Christian hymn (hence the word common – although its tune has some variety to confuse us and some have raised an issue about how modern or not the language is (to reflect such concerns as feminism as well as varieties of gender identity).

What saddens me is not the hymn (who could be sad about that) but about the fact that a room full of Lutherans cannot be counted upon to know more than this most common hymn and only one stanza at that.  There was a time when we could have been asked to sing any one of dozens of hymns from our hymnal and heritage and it would have been met with a resounding response among people who knew the text and tune by heart.  Now, not even the battle hymn of the Reformation, A Mighty Fortress, is known broadly enough or well enough to be sung without text and music.  Do you sense that there is something wrong with this picture?  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  We Lutherans no longer know our hymns well enough to sing the many great and wonderful hymns of our history and heritage – at least not without words and a melody to prompt us.

We do not sing from a common hymnal the same sturdy hymns of old often enough or outside of Sunday morning enough to know our own heritage.  We might be able to sing a stanza or two of Amazing Grace without words or music but we no longer know Luther’s great catechism hymns or the royalty of chorales (Wake, Awake for Night Is Flying and O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright), nor any other of the hymns of the faith ancient or modern.  We do not sing as many hymns or as many stanzas of those hymns and we do not sing hymns at home as we once did.  So the decision was made to go with what people know and it appears they know the Common Doxology best of all.
So I would plead with us to relearn our heritage, refresh our voices in the great hymns of old, and make these historic hymns our own again – not simply for the sake of some variety in convention singing but for the sake of our children and ourselves.