Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Put the Sacraments Back Together Again

In yesterday’s blog post, Pastor David Petersen spoke of the Sacraments, and how they should be seen together as our life in Christ. To take his thought a step further, we often live our lives as though we’re disconnected from the Sacraments altogether, even in the Church. The old Adam in us likes to bypass the Sacraments, in favor of our own plans, forgetting where our life comes from. Passive righteousness is shunned in favor of our own active righteousness. We tend to focus on our own activities and wander from that which nourishes us. The Lord’s Supper becomes a sideshow on the midway that we might stop in to see on our way to the main event. But once we get to the big top, it’s all about us.

The “all about us” show isn’t always advertised as such though – it’s usually disguised by a colorful painting on the side of the tent, along with a guy on stilts in a top hat holding a bamboo cane, drawing attention to the painting. The message trumpets what we’re going to accomplish as foot soldier’s in the army of the Lord. But the message, which may revolve around the Gospel, doesn’t preach the Gospel. It’s a message of Law instead, designed to motivate you to do something.

Our recently concluded District Conventions illustrate how we’re being drawn into the Law-driven big top. Here are several of the themes from this year’s Conventions:

  • "The Love of Christ urges us on"
  • "Make a World for Christ My Goal"
  • "Transformed for His Mission"
  • "Faith Aflame: Communicating the Gospel"
  • "Ignited in Christ to be Ablaze in HIS Mission!"
  • "Called Into Partnership"
  • "Chosen for a Purpose"

Aren’t we forgetting something here? Are we so far off-topic that we can no longer properly distinguish Law and Gospel? Yes, we are. Our life in Christ revolves around Him and his life giving gifts first, not us and our mission. Get that message backwards, and you’re wasting your time.

Here’s a few suggestions for themes for our next set of District Conventions:

  • “The Word Made Flesh”

  • “Eat it Up”

  • “Shed for You”

  • “I Will Never Thirst”

  • “Once for All”

While reading one of the blogs I frequent, I came across what I think is a great theme that really gets to the heart of Scripture, an all encompassing theme. Did it come from a National Convention or a theological convocation? No, it came from a Lutheran kid’s camp.

The name of the camp is Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca in Iowa, and the Camp Director is Rev. Terry Small. What’s their theme?

Forgiven. Period.

They’ve managed to put the Sacraments back together again, to put them front and center – they’re the main event. They’ve rediscovered Lutheran theology, putting the horse in front of the cart, the lead in front of the pencil, and the Word in front of the people.

The blog post describing Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca comes from Pastor Paul Beisel’s blog One Lutheran…Ablog!™. (Please give his insightful post a read.) He states:

Each week the campers here [sic] about Baptism as God’s stamp of forgiveness, Confession and Absolution, The Lord’s Supper, and the Pastoral Office as the dispenser of these gifts. Awesome. Simply awesome.

When you’re considering your next theme, whether it’s a theme for your convention, for your sermon, or for your family devotions, consider putting the Sacraments back together again. Put the Sacraments back in the midst of God’s people, where they will provide their life-giving forgiveness and blessings on all who believe. It is then that we will serve our neighbor, providing for Him in his need, both physical and spiritual, so that the Gospel will be proclaimed in Word an deed throughout the world, with no coercion from the Law.


Anonymous said...

At the risk of being misunderstood, let me say that Satan always draws us toward the Law--man's religion. The LCMS is not immune from that--in fact, Satan is hard at work among us. It's as Pastor Wilken so aptly says, this is simply preaching "Christian" rather than Christ.

This is what happens when the Bible's authority is questioned. We're reaping a whirlwind for 50 or more years of poor catechesis and instruction at the highest levels.

Has anyone heard of vocation?


Dennis Peskey said...

I would like to enter the Michigan District theme in the "most obscure" contest for conventions:

"Celebrate Jesus"

If you can figure out what this means (supposely based on Philippians 2;9-11) you are much wiser than most Lutherans in Michigan.

Scott Diekmann said...

I saw that theme Dennis. I guess it's a theme that can be all things to all people, since it's so amorphous it can have multiple meanings.

Dennis Peskey said...

Kinda takes the certainity of God's Word and blurs all meaning. This was just the tip of a large iceberg we call the Michigan District. Reminds me of Noah's Ark - slow moving, no real direction, and many strange creatures aboard. Kyrie Eleison.