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Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s Supper’

My pastor believes there is ultimately only one thing he can do for the souls entrusted to his care.  He can be faithful to preach the Word and offer the Sacraments.

Nothing — not one thing — will do more for me or any other member of my church family.  Nothing but the Wisdom of the Word, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the Body and Blood of the Savior Jesus Christ will carry us on this earthly journey to our heavenly home.

But, when my pastor started offering the Lord’s Supper not just twice a month, but every Sunday, the complaining began.  Stubbornness set in.  Attendance dropped.  Those who guard the finances began to worry.  My pastor didn’t suggest the change because he’s enamored by the power of authority, but because he’s under authority.  He opened God’s Book.  In adult class and a series of sermons, he spoke God’s Word of instruction.   He explained the illness of sin and the Source of forgivness, healing, and strength.  Then, with faith in the Great Physician, my pastor stopped the practice of withholding medicine — saving it only for this Sunday or that — and started offering it every Sunday.   There, at the Lord’s Table, I am reminded that I’m forgiven and do not have to carry the burden of my sin baggage.  I am strengthened for the week’s battle against satan, the world, and my own sinful self.  I am filled for a week of worshiping God by serving others.

So, here is my pastor faithfully preparing the Lord’s Table every Sunday for us.  For a sick, burdened, and weary flock.  With arms open, he speaks The Word: Come!  Here is Christ… “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  But, some in the flock have chosen to voice their dislike of weekly communion by refusing to attend church as regularly as they were.  In fact, there are whispers: Maybe if pastor sees the attendance dropping and money not coming in to meet our budget, he will stop this practice.

Do these people hear what they’re saying?  “Stop, pastor!  Stop offering us so much Christ!  Stop, or else… .”

Could it be?  Are some people really saying: We want more blessings!  We want more members to join!  We want more money for our storehouses!  We want success!  We want a place in the community!  We want more stuff!  But, we don’t want more Christ.

“Give us music, Pastor.”  “Give us joy, Pastor.”  “Give us opportunity to praise God, Pastor.”

But, Christ.  The Word in human flesh here for us.  Forgiveness for us.  Abundant life for us…

Just not so much.

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There are those who say that traditional worship is unemotional.  They describe the Divine Service as unfriendly rather than welcoming; antiquated as opposed to contemporary.

Well, I gotta tell ya.  Emotions are highly over-rated.  In fact, they’re fickle.  Experience proves I can’t depend on them to serve me well.  I might “feel” like praising God one day and “feel” inspired by those “feelings,” but what happens when I don’t “feel” like praising Him?  What “feeling” fills the void?

Once I better understood that I’m the one being served in the Divine Service, not the other way around, this “antiquated” service became very welcoming and contemporary.  Tied to this earth as I am, there is no other time when I stand in the presence of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit… and all the company of heaven.   It’s true that some of the hymns and responsive melodies flow awkwardly from my mouth, but the words are instructive and comforting for my life and soul — right here, right now.

The Divine Order of Service rescues me from my own fickle emotion.  Indeed, the Creator of emotion uses His Divine Order of Service to surprise me with joy and contentment.  Yes, joy and contentment are both emotions, but not ones that I stir up.  The Divine Service is not me doing something for God that I can “feel” good about; rather, it is God doing something for me.  He is serving me with His Word and Sacrament.  There is no disappointment when I don’t “feel” like I think I should.  Nothing is up to me.  The service of equipping and strengthening this cracked, but chosen vessel is all up to Him.

In His Order of Divine Service, God uses my pastor to serve me.  One morning, this became beautifully apparent at the Lord’s Table.

For most of my communing life, our congregation’s practice was use of individual cups.  I reached for the cup, then drank.  Today, my pastor holds out to me the Cup of Christ.  Once Sunday, while kneeling at the Lord’s Supper, my pastor stood before me.  I didn’t look up at the man, but saw only the hand of Christ around the Chalice.  For a brief moment, I experienced — yes! — an emotion.  I “felt” the presence of my Savior.  And, why not?  Isn’t my pastor a called and ordained servant of the Word?  Isn’t He Christ’s representative on earth?  No wonder  my pastor falls to his knees in humble prayer before each Divine Service.  He, a sinner too, is hardly worthy to stand before a congregation of sinners and pronounce much of anything.  Yet, in The Robe of Righteousness and with trust in the Divine, my pastor is called to offer forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ.

In that moment, with eyes focused not on mere man but the Hand and Cup of Jesus, I “felt” a bit like a woman at the foot of the Cross.   Will I have this “feeling” every time I kneel at the Lord’s Table?  No.  Human emotions are fickle; here one moment, gone the next. I can’t depend on an emotion.

But, I can depend on Jesus.  Emotions or not, the Blood of Jesus is given and shed for me.  It welcomes me, a poor miserable sinner.  It is cleansing.  Renewing.   Life-changing.  No matter if I muster up the praise… the thanksgiving… the righteous “feeling.”  The Lord Jesus serves me.

The Savior’s hand is always outstretched.  It reaches down to me in whatever circumstance.  His Word and Sacrament fill this fragile vessel and lift this cracked pot back on the journey.

Emotion or not, I’m welcomed.  Covered.  Served.

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