Sunday, April 25, 2010

Why Are We Here?

Living in the South where Christians answer that question "to save the lost," it might come as a surprise to some that the question is not that simple.  We are here to worship God, the Triune God who has made Himself known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Worship is the first and highest calling of all people -- even those who do not know it, who reject it, or who choose another priority before worship.  Our Confessions inform us that the true and highest worship is faith -- but not faith in a vacuum but faith called forth by the Divine Word speaking through Scripture, addressing us with redemption in the water of baptism, and feeding us with the foretaste of the feast to come that is our sustaining food for this mortal life at His Table.  Because our path of sin and rebellion interrupted this highest and holiest of callings, God restored us to the purpose for which we were created by giving Himself to us in the form of His one and only Son.  Jesus Christ was born as one of us yet without sin in order to pay for us the cost incurred by our sin and overcome the death to which sin made us captive.  Having secured the atonement that paid the price for all our sin and having overcome death and the grave, He has bestowed upon us through the Spirit the blessed knowledge of His redemptive work and taught our fearful hearts to trust in Him.  In victory He ascended into the heavens to take up His rightful place beside the Father and continue to act as our High Priest mediating our cause before Him -- but not before He charged His people to make known all that He did for us and for the sake of the world, that they, too, might be granted this blessed knowledge through the work of the Spirit, come to faith in Him and in the Father whom He makes known, and become one with those who worship the Lord as their highest and holiest of callings and purposes.

We do not speak the Gospel in order to save the lost soul but to bring to the lost the blessed knowledge of what Christ has done that they might take their place with us and worship God with all their heart, mind, soul, body, and strength.  Worship is the goal of everything -- it is the defining purpose of who we are as the Church and it is the reason why we were sent into the world in Christ's name.  This description has a communal aspect to us that is so lost in so much of Christianity today.  We were lost because sin took us out of communion with the Father and kept us from fulfilling our calling in creation to worship the Lord.  We were saved because Christ took upon Himself our nature (yet without sin) in order to heal the breach, restore communion, and then restore to us the holy calling for which we were first made and now redeemed.

Until Lutherans begin speaking in this way, we sound to the world like ritualistic Baptists who are concerned for the salvation of the soul and who worship God in some quirky way that is irrelevant to modern society and out of step with the times.  Every time we speak and act with the same methods and vocabulary as generic Protestantism -- no matter what form that may take -- we only heighten the distance between us and the identity we have around the Word and Table of the Lord on Sunday morning.  And worship becomes a matter of taste or style preference instead of the community of God whom He has called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified through His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit who makes Him known (or He will not and cannot be known).  Worship is our highest and holiest calling, restored to us in baptism, and fulfilled not when we do what is pleasing to us or what fits the desires of our own hearts but when we speak back to Him the Word He has spoken to us, when we gather in invocation of that name applied to us in baptism's water, when we extend the right hand of fellowship through the absolution pronounced upon us and which we extend to one another in His peace, when we come to His Table to eat what is His body and to drink what is His blood hidden in bread and wine, when we respond with the prayers of a grateful heart and the song of praise that we learned from those who went before us and to which we add our own voice and song -- the best of all we have and are.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I thought we were here to give money to the various competing Church work organizations, mentioned in the previous post.

Anonymous said...

preach it!!!!!!!!

Dr.D said...

Isn't it the truth!