Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Handling the Means of Grace

For all the belly-aching I may do when the Divine Service is not held in high esteem, let me relate a great joy that I experienced following its celebration at Trinity today.

Sunday past, a woman visiting with her 10 year old grandaughter from a neighboring Lutheran congregation of a different persuasion, graciously extended the greatest compliment I have ever received as a pastor. As she shook my hand, she said, "You make Communion very special."

Now this was spoken by no newby to the faith, who comes from a more "conservative"
fellowship of congregations, and was asked by a pastor to refrain from receiving the Sacrament until we have the chance to speak further about the faith confessed at our altar, and how it may differ from that with which she is familiar. It was also spoken by one who is accustomed to having the Sacrament available only once a month.

Of course my reply to this dear lady was, "It is our Lord who makes it special. But thank you very much, I am so glad that you think so."

After all, I do nothing but treat the elements designated by our Lord with the dignity and reverence befitting the body and blood He declares them to be. I mean I don't even own a chasuble, our Communion ware and paraments are about as plain and simple as they come, and the altar and rail are in need of renovation if not replacement.

But for one who is used to having the *Sacrament* available only once per month, and that served by a man who wears a business suit and tie in the daily (yes, I think she said he does vest for the weekly church service) exercise of his office, I suppose our celebration of the Lord's Supper as she observed it today must seem rather special indeed. Not to mention finding a man wearing a collar distinctive of the office when she originally came to visit during the week.

Anyway, why do I write this, to toot my own horn? No, not at all. It is to rejoice when one comes to see in the light, what has been obscured by some sort of darkness. It is to celebrate that what has been lost and even denigrated by some, has now been found and valued by another as our dear Lord intends.

The bottom line is this -- perhaps how faithfully the pastor sticks to the Word he is given, without straining for exceptions and broadening it according to his own understanding or intent really does matter. And, just perhaps, how he handles the means of grace and the office to which he has been called really is reflected in the faith of the people entrusted to his care.

Could it be?

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16, NKJ

Let the discussion begin ....

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