No longer could the norm be page 5 and the Ante Communion with its abrupt end right where the Supper should be. No more could four times a year be both minimum and maximum. No more could we be faithful in the pulpit while the altar sat as ornament to what was missing and still feel like we were honoring our history and being true to our Lutheran Symbols. No one should be content to understand the Sacrament of the Lord's Body and Blood as mere added extra to an otherwise complete Service of the Word. No more could we look at rubrics and the Divine Service and say that we were being Lutheran in practice not to have the Sacrament on the Lord's Day and whenever else there were people who desired to receive it.
With this came also a renewal of baptismal identity, the re-discovery of baptismal vocation, the renewal of the Word as the efficacious Word that does what it says and delivers that of which it speaks, the revival of private confession, and the restoration of the ministry as seelsorge and not simply preacher. It all became part of the one move to recover and re-establish within the people of God a fully Eucharistic piety, prayer life, and life of mercy and service.
Now here on Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday), we find ourselves face to face with what the Lord did on the night when He was betrayed and we must once again survey how we have kept what He has instituted. It is not enough to preserve in theory the Real Presence or to have proper and faithful awe of the gift. It is required of us that we must keep the gift, that this Holy Sacrament must be the beating heart and center of our life together as a people of Word AND Sacrament.
O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion.If we would keep this wondrous Sacrament, then we must be prepared to have it continually manifest among us so that we may bear its fruits in our lives. In the end, it may well be that we have recovered more the easy part of this renewal -- you see more chasubles, hear more chanting, witness more frequent communion, etc... But we still have much work ahead of us to preach and teach the Sacrament as the beating heart of our common life as the baptized people of God, the source and summit of our spiritual lives, and the body of Christ receiving His Body to be that body. If for this reason only, the Lutheran liturgical movement continues and will not pause.
Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
If we fail, we will have only restored ceremonies empty of meaning and still left our people with the suspicion that Lutherans are simply Evangelicals or others who happen to have a checkered liturgical history. Our Symbols insist that is not true but if we fail in our efforts to keep up the good work once begun in restoring a Eucharistic piety to our people, those words will testify only to what was and not to what is. In this we pray the Lord not to let us fail.