I am aware that what I write below is nothing new. In fact, that gives me great comfort.
In the reading of the Lutheran Confessions given in the Treasury of Daily Prayer for today we read from Article IV of the Apology:
"We do not exclude the Word or Sacraments, as the adversaries falsely charge against us. We have said that faith is conceived from the Word. We honor the ministry of the Word in the highest degree."
This is the reason why Lutherans ought to hold the Office of the Holy Ministry in high regard. For no other reason than it is through this divinely instituted Office that the Word of God is spoken and the Sacraments are administered. It is through this Office that God has deigned to work in this way. It is through His Word and Sacraments that God creates and strengthens faith.
The man in the Office is irrelevant. Cover him up with vestments representing the Office. Hide the man! The Office which he bears and the Word that is spoken is what is relevant. We honour the ministry of the Word in the highest degree because of the WORD - not the man.
So the Prime Minister of Canada goes to a funeral in a Roman Catholic church and goes up to receive Holy Communion. He was given a wafer. There is some uncertainty as to whether he consumed the wafer or if he pocketed it. You see, our Prime Minister is a devout evangelical. You can't make this stuff up! Check out this clip and watch closely - it looks to me like the Prime Minister definitely pocketed the wafer!
1. The unfaithfulness of the Roman Catholic priest to his church's teachings. Only Roman Catholics are to be admitted to Roman Catholic altars. It is not only Lutherans who practice closed communion. The priest should have politely informed the Prime Minister that he was not able to receive the Sacrament.
2. As an evangelical the Prime Minister should have known better than to go forward to receive the Sacrament. It is a confession of faith - one which he does not share with the Roman church.
3. He pocketed the wafer! Likely he did so because he did not want to participate in a practice which as an evangelical he likely views as silly superstitious belief. However, after the event it seems it is being covered up by saying that he consumed it. But watch the clip - it does not look like he consumed it to me - unless he did so out of his pocket back in the pew.
So, the practice of closed communion is in the news. Most of the call in shows have discussed it. Most of the people calling in are shocked to hear that all may not be welcomed to approach the altar. Perhaps it will be good for discussion even within our own parishes!
Today is the 8th anniversary of my ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry. Today, eight years ago I was ordained and installed as the pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church - Fort Qu'Appelle, SK. Luther's sacristy prayer remains so true and a prayer I pray regularly:
Lord God, You have appointed me as a Bishop and Pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word. Use me as Your instrument -- but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.
Today is a cloudy, damp, rainy day. I was alone at Matins this morning. I prefer when somemembers show up and I am blessed to have a couple members who join me for Matins most mornings. However, this morning I was alone in the church praying Matins as I listened to the rain fall on the roof of the church. It was lovely in a way. I did my best to chant (no one was there!). And then I sat down to read the Old Testament reading for today from the Treasury of Daily Prayer - Judges 2:6-23. I was struck by God's patience and grace.Over and over Israel turns from God to idols. Over and over Israel forgets God. Over and over they treat God like garbage. And yet God continues to reach out to them. I even marvelled at how God grew angry for their sin and stubbornness. After a while you would think God would just give up on them - turn His back on them and not give them another thought. I mean, after a while, wouldn't you just give up and stop caring? Not God. He keeps reaching out to Israel. He still cares enough for them to have His anger kindled when they wander.
Perhaps it may seem strange to see grace in God's anger over Israel's unfaithfulness. However, as I was reading the text this morning it just kept striking me - why would God care anymore after all the times Israel wandered from Him. I mean, how much can He take? Why would He keep coming back to Israel only to have them thumb their noses at Him time and time again? The fact that He did not completely abandon them and still cared enough to get angry with them is a sign that He still cared and loved them. Despite their unfaithfulness He was faithful. They were His people - the apple of His eye and amazingly no matter what they did this remained true. His anger was kindled by their sin - but wouldn't indifference be much worse? Wouldn't simply no longer caring enough to grow angry be worse? God's indifference would be terrible. Perhaps that is what Hell is? Perhaps that is what Jesus suffered on the cross when He cried out "My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?"
The grace of God is greater than we can fathom. His grace seems wasteful to us at times. I suppose that is why I was marvelling this morning. If it were me I would have left the Israelites to suffer on their own and eventually would have grown cold to them - not even caring enough to get angry.
The way we see God acting toward Israel is the way He acts toward us today in Jesus Christ. My constant wandering in my life as saint and sinner is the same way the Israelites wandered to idols. We need to be constantly called back through repentance. Luther was right of course - the life of the Christian is one of repentance. As a poor miserable sinner it gives me great comfort to see how God did not forsake His people throughout the Old Testament. I can trust that for the sake of Jesus He will not forsake me either!
It was a great day around here today! My parents are visiting from Alberta and my brother and Natalie came to visit from the neighbouring parish in Melville. We went to the Canada Day parade and then came home for hotdogs. Then we threw the football around a bit inthe afternon for a while followed by some Cribbage. My Dad and I skunked Murray and Natalie and won the other game. We then had BBQ ribs and Natalie brought a great rhubarb crisp for desert. Now we are waiting around for the Canada Day fireworks. Lots of fun and a great day!