Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 “Believe me,” returned Jesus, “the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of ‘on this hill-side’ or ‘in Jerusalem’. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality.”
25 “Of course I know that Messiah is coming,” returned the woman, “you know, the one who is called Christ. When he comes he will make everything plain to us.” 26 “I am Christ speaking to you now,” said Jesus. John 4:21-26 (Phillips NT)
Thus we teach that in using the sacraments there must be a faith which believes these promises and accepts that which is promised and offered in the sacrament.
20 The reason for this is clear and well-founded. A promise is useless unless faith accepts it. The sacraments are signs of the promises. When they are used, therefore, there must be faith, so that anyone who uses the Lord’s Supper uses it this way. Because this is a sacrament of the New Testament, as Christ clearly says (1 Cor. 11:25), the communicant should be certain that the free forgiveness of sins, promised in the New Testament, is being offered to him. He should accept this by faith, comfort his troubled conscience, and believe that the testimonies are not false but as certain as though God, by a new miracle, promised his will to forgive. For that matter, what good would such miracles or promises do an unbeliever?
21 Here we are talking about personal faith, which accepts the promise as a present reality and believes that the forgiveness of sins is actually being offered, not about a faith which believes in a general way that God exists.
22 Such use of the sacrament comforts devout and troubled minds.
Man is always looking for the right way of honoring God, for a form of prayer and common worship that pleases God and is appropriate to his nature. In this connection, we must remember that originally the word “orthodoxy” did not mean, as we generally think today, right doctrine. In Greek, the word doxa means, on the one hand, opinion or splendor. But then in Christian usage it means something on the order of “true splendor”, that is, the glory of God. Orthodoxy means, therefore, the right way to glorify God, the right form of adoration. In this sense, orthodoxy is inward “orthopraxy”. If we go back to the word’s origins, the modern opposition disappears. It is not a question of theories about God but of the right way to encounter him. This, then, was seen as Christian faith’s great gift: we know what right worship is. We know how we should truly glorify God—by praying and living in communion with the Paschal journey of Jesus Christ, by accomplishing with him his Eucharistia, in which Incarnation leads to Resurrection—along the way of the Cross.
I came across some big and heavy quotes in my reading this morning. But they center around that encounter with God we call worship.
In my opinion, this word is what makes life worth living, and I hope, in writing this, I can convince you of that as well. But to do so, we have to come to a definition of worship, a way of understanding it that can be commonly accepted.
Worship is what the lady at the well experienced, it is an encounter with God. For one cannot encounter Him without experiencing the love and mercy that is what is His glory, and our hearts respond in worship, in adoration. As the early Lutherans agreed it accepts the promise of God in the sacrament as a present reality, It is what Pope Benedict simplifies orthodoxy too (much to my amazement, as I have been teaching this for years!) it is the right way to encounter Him.
It is no surprise then that both a pope and the early Lutherans testified that this worship, this right praise is linked to the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. For during that time of worship, every bit of our body is involved in recognizing that we are in God’s presence. From our voices testifying that this is the lamb of God who takes away our sins, to our knees bent in supplication and adoration, to our hands and mouths receiving His precious Body and Blood, we encounter Him.
We encounter Him as He promised He would come to us, as He asked us to know Him, to recognize His presence with us. This isn’t just some boring rite, some meaningless practice that can be overlooked. The Lord’s supper and the other times we encounter God in word and Sacrament ministry are precious because they bring comfort and the remainder of the peace that is ours because of Jesus.
And in the midst of this broken world, as we dwell in the midst of trauma, we need that reassurance, we need that reminder of what is real, that we are the children of God,
Knowing that makes life worth living, it makes it precious,
We are His, come celebrate that with us, and with the God who draws us together!
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.