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quod pro nobis traditum est

Saturday, May 11, 2013

receiving when the answers aren't there

These are exciting days and there is never any lack for surprise in the ministry.

A year or two ago there was a good old Lutheran in town who visited our church. I had not seen him in many many years so it was good to see him. Two Sundays in a row he visited the service. We have the Lord's Supper at every service so I asked him with some surprise why he did not come to the altar. Oh, it was because he always likes to read the Christian Questions with their Answers from the catechism before he comes up and he forgot to bring his catechism. I was impressed. Here is someone who appears to take the faith seriously.

Then again I was surprised and disappointed. He did not see or hear that the liturgy prepares him to come up to the altar with the same faith - confession of sins and absolution, hearing the Scripture and the preaching of the Gospel, hearing the words of Institution, trusting in Christ, etc. He did not recognize that the faith the catechism teaches is the same faith that is given to us in the liturgy of Word and Sacrament.

Included in the Christian Questions with their Answers is the Words of Institution: "... 'Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'"

He was obviously trying to send me another message. However his actions in not coming to the altar speaks volumes about the value of the Lord's Supper to him and this gives much room for pause. If we hope to take seriously the faith, we will not neglect opportunities like weekly Communion to receive God's mercy in Christ. We may think we can live two or three weeks without God's gifts and forgiveness, without nourishment in faith in Christ. Our sins never take such long breaks. The early Christians did not wait too long, they received the Eucharist daily.