04 September 2007

What a Gift!

One of my greatest joys in being a pastor is celebrating the Eucharist with the people of God - at two Sunday morning services and a Wednesday evening service each week in my parish. Just celebrating the Eucharist has sustained me through many a dark time through the years. Actually, I should say, the Lord's great gift of Himself in the Holy Meal has sustained me! What else comes delivered in that gift? As Dr. A. C. Piepkorn might say, forgiveness and a whole lot more. Here's what Piepkorn said:
The Catechism's emphasis upon the forgiveness of sins that we receive in the Holy Sacrament - a necessary emphasis in the days when the Mass was regarded as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead - has, in one of the amazing perversions that popular thinking sometimes undergoes, made Holy Communion for many Lutheran Christians nothing more than the last act in a periodic orgy of repentance and contrition and remorse. But the Sacrament is more than a seal of absolution, pardon, and remission. It is a Eucharist - a giving of thanks, the most perfect oblation of gratitude that we can offer. It is a Commission - the most intimate fellowship and union with our Saviour into which sinful man can enter. It is a Medicine of Immortality - the immortal body of the conquering Christ fortifying and strengthening us with all virtue and power and strength and grace. It is Christ coming to men - more than that, it is Christ coming to me, to become mine and to make me His ("The Lutheran Church - A Sacramental Church," in *The Church,* p. 85).
What a gift indeed!

1 comment:

Christine said...

a necessary emphasis in the days when the Mass was regarded as a propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead

Which, in actuality, it still is in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

Pastor, I am intrigued by your Eucharistic references because in truth, when I grew up in the LCMS one frequently heard references to the Sacrament of the Altar and Holy Communion but never the Eucharist, perhaps because many LCMS congregations practiced a much more truncated Eucharistic canon by employing only the verba of the words of institution.

Later, as a member of the ELCA the Lutheran Book of Worship attempted to virtually copy the Roman Catholic canon falling just short of the sacrificial emphasis.

It is interesting how diverse the practice is in the LCMS today.