Friday, October 31, 2014

I don't wanna

The heirs of the Great Reformation gather on this day to trumpet the accomplishments of Martin Luther and his cohort of renewers of the faith.  We may not be happy to be Lutheran the rest of the year but on October 31 we are proud to beat our pumped out chests, sing A Mighty Fortress, and bemoan the wretched state of the church before Luther made it a personal cause!

Don't get me wrong.  I love Reformation Day.  I love being Lutheran (most all the time).  But I fear for the future of Lutheran churches (not so much for Lutheranism).  The Lutheranism that is the Book of Concord confessed, the great Lutheran chorales sung, the Divine Service with all of its reverence and awe, the Small Catechism and its explanations -- these will endure.  Sometimes I am not so sure about the Lutherans.

We Lutherans might have been undone by our pride in the man Luther and in our hero worship of his person but not so much anymore...  We Lutherans might have been undone by our flirtations with evangelicals and others -- the folks we might be if we were not Lutheran and still try to be while attempting to be Lutheran -- and we still could be.  We Lutherans might have been undone by those who have given up on the Reformation entirely and who are resigned to reconciliation with another communion (Rome or Constantinople) but the numbers swimming in either direction is fewer than the publicity implies.

What will be our undoing is our laziness, our infatuation with preference and feeling, and our unwillingness to work very hard at anything spiritual.  If Lutherans disappear, it will be because I just don't wanna will end up ruling the day.  I just don't wanna do anything so I will just stand here and watch from the sidelines of Sunday morning...  I just don't wanna learn anything, so I will just assume that all churches basically believe the same things or their errors and virtues complement the other churches so that none of us really knows what is truth...  I just don't wanna speak the words of the Divine Service or sing the hymns so I will let others do it and stand there like a lump on log...  I just don't wanna pay attention to doctrine and truth so I will content myself to measure what happens on Sunday morning on whether or not I feel better, got anything out of it, were entertained, educated, or got to do my thing in the spotlight...  I just don't wanna be responsible for raising my child in the faith, taking him or her to catechism and Sunday school, or modeling for him or her how to participate in the Divine Service...   I just don't wanna be accountable to anyone for anything and I don't want others to look over my shoulder and presume to tell me anything...   I just don't wanna do anything I don't wanna do!  Believe!  Practice!  Sing!  etc...

If Lutheran churches end up disappearing, it will not happen because Rome won or Geneva won but because Lutherans ended up giving up on their confession, congregation, catechism, and conscience.  That is the real danger facing us -- look in the mirror.  When Lutherans find other things to do on Sunday morning they are saying the Divine Service, the Word and the Sacraments, and their local congregation don't matter so much after all.  This is what threatens our existence.  The devil is counting on our lackadaisical attitudes that leave the believing, the confessing, the singing, the worshiping, the teaching, the serving, the caring to others. 

We are our own worst enemies.  Some of us have forgotten the voices of our fathers in the faith and have attempted to reinvent Lutheranism (in the image of evangelicalism, fundamentalism, mainline Protestantism).  Some of us have forgotten the witness side of confession and treat the stranger as the oddity to be ignored rather than the stranger to be welcomed.  Some of us have forgotten that pure doctrine matters because their people believe and confess it and not as an ornament for the shelf.  Some of us have forgotten that unless we pass on faithfully the legacy passed on to us we have little to be proud of.  Some of us have forgotten that Lutheran is not antithetical to Christian but claim to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith.

Lutherans unite -- not against the world but for the Divine Service as source and summit of our Christian lives EVERY week...  not as a people whose every word is "no" but as those who speak also and with even greater vigor God's "yes" in Christ crucified... not as a people willing to let others do what is our baptismal calling but as the people convinced that what we believe, confess, teach, and do matters... not as a people happy to beat our chest for the victories of yesterday but as those who fight the good fight of faith today...  not as a people who secretly wish we were somebody else but as those whose convictions are solid, sure, and deep in the faith called Lutheranism...

Come on, Lutherans, be Lutheran -- not just on Sunday morning either.  We are our own worst enemies.  Either we believe the efficacious Word and have confidence in the means of grace to deliver what they sign or we have no business wearing the name that others wore so nobly before us.  If Lutherans disappear we can blame no one but ourselves.  Today is Halloween -- when folks dress up in costume.  Lutheran is not a costume -- it is a confession upheld, a conviction shared, a community gathered around Word and Sacrament, a catechism to be taught, and a cause too important to be left to others. . .  Don't wear your Lutheranism as a costume.  Wear it as the face of faithful catholic Christianity.  Then Lutherans and Lutheranism will have a sure future.


Janis Williams said...
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Janis Williams said...

Perhaps we can, as one Lutheran has said, "work a trade." If we can trade a few "top" Lutherans for a few Baptists convinced of the truth about Baptism and the Eucharist...?