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quod pro nobis traditum est

Saturday, November 02, 2013

thinking and praying

As I have written in the past, the central act of Christians together is the receiving of the Lord's Body and Blood following the hearing of the Scripture and preaching. This, I have usually addressed in the past in response to the change of some Protestant and Catholic forms of worship into entertainment ("contemporary", etc.) In recent years there is an equally dangerous devaluation of the central act of Christians together in a societal emphasis on dividing people according to class or social status, thus changing the liturgy into some form of advance of a particular understanding of justice. Both an entertainment model and a justice model are ultimately materialistic and man-centered. Both emphases lead away from the divine nature of the sacrament which is to benefit of both body and soul. In other words, both the conservative and liberal approaches, in their extremes, work against the uniting of believers at the altar. The Holy Supper is instituted by the Lord for us and is a Holy Communion with God and with those at the altar (i.e., baptized believers).

Moving away from this observation for a while, and paying more attention to such an undue creeping of "conservative" and "liberal" notions into the faith it becomes difficult to discern at times what is happening in both the society and the church. Different trends, emphases, forces, may be at work simultaneously pulling people in society and people within the church in varying directions. This is no less confusing to pastors. As a pastor I have struggled with these things and their effect on the church. Rather than approach this from a "conservative" or "liberal" dichotomy I have thought how one might be affected personally by all this. Here is a model that might help explain different and possibly simultaneously occurring influences using very simple categories of thinking and praying:

I. Encourages Thinking and Praying

II. Encourages Thinking and discourages Praying

III. Discourages Thinking and encourages Praying

IV. Discourages both Thinking and Praying

Obviously, the first is preferred and the last, while seemingly not a possibility, does occur from time to time. However, all of these seem to be part of the experiences of the believer in this day and age. For example, the academic might experience more occurrences of II while the pious might experience more occurrences of III. IV is to be avoided although circumstances might place one there from time to time. All four possible scenarios are understood in a greater context of the faith.

Hoping especially that the first scenario is more common and preferred we return to the altar where maybe prayer is more dominant although thinking is indeed part and both are connected to the divine mysteries of grace and salvation.