Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Gifting of Gift Receiving

“Do you have to go the church? No, you get to, you slacker.” That is the opening statement on the God Whisperers website of podcasts on the third commandment.* It is an interesting approach compared to much of Christianity regarding attendance at church services. It is treated as a duty we owe to God. A drudgery that most times we rather not fulfill. This is definitely the wrong approach but is understandable due to each of us believers having an old Adam who wants rules and regulations rather then what God offers.

Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. ESV

Reflect on what happens at a church which is committed to traditional centuries old liturgy.

The pastor invokes the Name of the Triune God. It is in this name we are baptized and receive two gifts. The forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us so transforming us into his temple. Gifting. Warrant in scripture: Acts 2:38-39

A time to reflect on the previous week and even on ones entrance into the church building on sin which we have done or the good which we have left undone. The pastor then announces the Gospel and in the stead and by the command forgives us all our sins. Again invoking the name of the Triune God in which we are baptized. More gifting. Scripture warrant: John 20:22-23

The sermon begins by invoking the Triune name of God, the name of Jesus or a prayer. In this sermon we hear how we really mess up. It may contain a recount of how the early disciples or forefathers messed up and how we are doing the same. Jesus’ perfect life is presented as the fulfillment of the requirement for us and how it is gifted to us. Then we are pointed to dead Jesus on the cross who paid for our sins. More gifting. Scripture warrant: Luke 24:45-47

The prayers and songs are also a response saying back to God the words with which he has gifted us. This in addition serves to instruct each of us in the gifts we are given in Jesus. Even more gifting. Scripture warrant: Colossians 3:16

The Eucharist is then celebrated. There according to the words of Jesus we are gifted with his body and blood for the forgiveness of sin. One may say “I already have the forgiveness of sin!” Yes but look how much you need it and continually. This gift shows us we cannot out sin grace. Further gifting. Scripture warrant: John 6:53-58, 1 Corinthians 10:16.

91] For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints or all holy and consecrated garments upon a heap, still that would help us nothing; for all that is a dead thing which can sanctify nobody. But God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour, then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. 92] Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled. **

**The Large Catechism of Martin Luther

Thanks be to you our God! †



Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. That's something we've learned slowly coming out of SB/Reformed circles and general evangelicalism. In our recent LCMS catechism class the pastor said why is it that we LOVE to come to church and LOVE what is within these four walls? Because within these four walls is packed the forgiveness of sins, it is chalked FULL of the forgiveness of sins.

I LOVED that image!


Larry KY

Martin Jack said...


I would also add that the infilling of the Holy Spirit can also be a gift of grace given to us during church services. That's my charismatic slant on that, but for me I feel an expectation going to church that God will show up in power.


David Cochrane said...

St Larry,

Yes that teaching that we are privileged to come rather then merely ordered to puts a vastly different slant on it.

St Martin,

Yes those in attendence in services where the word and sacraments are will get a filling of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit delivers the benefits of Christ's finished work through these means.

God's peace. †

Steve Martin said...

Most often, when the Holy Spirit turns the "light switch on" for someone, the first thing that will happen is that they will find the door of a church.

Good comments, all!

Thank you, St. David!