Discussion Thought fo the Day:
1 So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3 So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? 4 And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.
Hebrews 2:1-4 (NLT)
1 God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.
Hebrews 4:1 (NLT)
67 Surely it is a sin and a shame that, when he tenderly and faithfully summons and exhorts us to our highest and greatest good, we act so distantly toward it, neglecting it so long that we grow quite cold and callous and lose all desire and love for it.
68 We must never regard the Sacrament as a harmful thing from which we should flee, but as a pure, wholesome, soothing medicine which aids and quickens us in both soul and body. For where the soul is healed, the body has benefited also. Why, then, do we act as if the sacrament were a poison which would kill us if we ate of it? (1)
Luther’s stance on communion here may be shocking to some. To avoid the Lord’s Supper is simply sin, it is shameful!
I hope it is! I hope it shocks us out of our lethargy, out of the apathetic attitude we have toward being the church, the lethargy that diminished our desire to be gathered around the altar of the Lord, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, given and shed for us.
The very summons Luther notes, as Jesus draws us to Himself, as He summons us, and would dwell in us, and us in Him is the word used in Greek, which we translate into the word “church”. Ekklesia!! Thos called out, those called together! The people of God created in the work of Christ’s obedience in life and death, as we are cleansed and set apart into an incredible, intimate, wondrous relationship with God. A relationship beyond our ability to comprehend, as we dwell in His presence, and are promised His glory!
As church growth theorists and church planters and revitalizers study churches, the one thing that can’t be studied is the source for our life, this “being called”, this being the church. We want the answers to why churches are in decline in America, we want answers to stem the tide, and the answer is simple….
Take and eat…
Take and drink…
Celebrate the union, the wedding of Christ and His bride, those called to Him, those drawn to Him by His love. Those who are united to His death and resurrection in the sacraments, especially the feast that celebrates the work, the offering being completed.
But the Church, since the days of the Enlightenment, since the days where rationalism has become the dominant philosophy, has set it aside. We have lifted up the sermon higher than the reading of the gospel, nevermind the feast that is our foretaste of the Feast that will come when Christ returns.
We’ve neglected this salvation, of celebrating it, choosing instead to sit on the sidelines, describing it as if we were announcers at a sporting event. We’ve neglected it, even as we justify celebrating it every other week or once a month, less it loses its meaning? I even heard a man justify denying people men who would serve the people of God this precious blessing, because once people only were given the Lord’s Supper once every other month, and they were very glad they got it that often!
If it is shameful and sin when we fail to celebrate this great salvation, is it any less sin to not tremble with fear when we think of people who do not experience this relationship? How much more should we tremble when we realize we have put man-made rules in place that prohibit and blocked people from experience Christ’s presence?
My friends, I leave you with this thought from Luther, describing the need of humanity for the Lord’s Supper,
72 If you are heavy-laden and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the sacrament and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength. (1)
encourage others to go with you, for they have the same need, a need that will be met there in Christ.
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 454). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press. Large Catechism: Fifth Part – The Sacrament of the Altar