Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Church Celebrates the Holy Eucharist

I respect those whose concerns have led them to the conclusion that the Eucharist should not be celebrated at Synod gatherings, yet I would like to offer the opposite argument.  If there is one thing which we should be able to say about the Church, it is that the Eucharist is her life and her heart.  The holy Eucharist is the sacred heart of the Church.  And so when she gathers, when she assembles, that is, when she is together as church, ecclesia, it is always fitting, and in fact, it is vital, that she be about her eucharistic business, both because she, and her members, find there true life in her Lord, and because this is a witness to the world, a proclaiming of Christ's sacrificial death, and a proclamation that the Church wants nothing other than to be associated with, and indeed to be fully integrated into, the death of Christ.  The Holy Eucharist is so central to the true life of the Church that Christ calls it the New Testament.  The church which claims that Christ is vital to its life is disingenuous if its christic vitality is not manifested by means of a devout and vibrant eucharistic life. 

These are not self evident truths.  I know of "Lutherans" who would bristle at such statements as being too focused on the Lord's Supper, and not focused enough on the preaching of the Word.  I don't have time to wrangle with such people today, however.  Instead, I will say that having established the eucharistic nature of the Church, we are still left with a couple of questions. 

1. Is the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod the Church?  If it is not, then "church" should not be in its name.  If it is not, then I ought not waste my time with it.  2. How can the mysteries of God possibly be handled in a responsible and reverent manner in a gathering of people many of whom are not united in doctrine and practice?  The same as they should be handled in any parish church or university campus chapel, namely, carefully and responsibly. 

Precisely one of the problems with many LCMS circuit meetings is that they no longer celebrate the Holy Mass.  If pastors in a circuit do not see themselves as brothers, then why bother going to meetings with each other?  So that you can work on the problems, so that hopefully one day you can see your circuit as finally qualifying as faithful and united?  Then don't call it a circuit of a Lutheran "church."  And don't claim that those are your brother pastors.  And don't be an official member of that "church." 

The LC-MS is a church with deep troubles.  And from the depths of that abyss, from the deep, she calls out to her Lord in faith: With Thee there is forgiveness, and My soul waits for the Lord.  I pray the Missouri Synod will 'wait' for her Lord more and more at the altar, as Church, and seek there the forgiveness of her sins.

2 comments:

Fr. Timothy D. May said...

You sound like a Circuit Counselor . . . hmmm.

Indeed the Eucharist ought to be offered at Circuit meetings as it is by some congregations.

In our area, attendance at such meetings saw decline after the "re-structuring" of the 1990s. Congregations and Circuits were re-defined on external factors rather than on that which makes the Church. When external factors define how churches relate with each other then the focus is laid on external differences. Unity is defined on externals rather than the uniting work of the Eucharist.
Pastors had less "in common."

Whether or not re-structuring is adiaphora is not of primary concern. At least, it was a distraction and, at most, a total re-direction (as if to avoid other issues).

It is an encouragement to see renewed emphasis on the holy Eucharist among Lutherans.

Paul said...

I recall many circuit meetings at which the Holy Eucharist was celebrated with great reverence. The joy and unity in the faith among brothers was palpable. When it is omitted, as of late, one is left wondering why should I bother making the effort to attend?