Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Without preparation. . .
The demise of private confession and the corporate confessional services once well known among us Lutherans has left us with only the general confession and absolution to prepare us for the Lord/s Table. I do not mean to demean this at all but to suggest that even this act of confession and absolution can become as routine as the reception of the Lord's Supper itself. In particular, the commonplace nature of cohabitation, children outside of wedlock, and promiscuity raise the issue of whether or not we are communing in repentance or as a people who no longer acknowledge these sins. While this is but one area of sin, there are others that could be listed here.
The lack of personal disciplines of fasting and prayer has become the norm of those who commune. I grew up with the idea that breakfast was eaten after Church on Sunday morning and I still find it hard to approach the Lord's Table without fasting. Again, I am not saying we need to impose a rule or that we should reduce the frequency of the Sacrament being offered. No, not at all, but what we should be doing is preaching and teaching more of the godly preparation for the Lord's Supper which helps us receive to our benefit what the Lord has promised.
Before people jump to the idea that a new Pharisaism is being born, I am encouraging the faithful to do this on their own and Pastors to proclaim the benefits and blessing of such godly preparation. At bare minimum I recommend a devotional review of the Christian Questions and Answers conveniently printed out in the hymnal as a great first step. We routinely print out prayers from the hymnal to be prayed before and after receiving the Lord's Supper. Again, these are good first steps toward the goal of a more fruitful reception of the Lord's body and blood by discerning that body and being ready in faith to receive this gift, to proclaim the mystery, and to rejoicing in the blessing.