Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The "Business" of the Church

From Messiah's March 2011 Newsletter

Luther said that even a "seven-year-old child knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd." (Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article XII. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, CPH 2005, p. 309) That really is the true "business" of the Church: to assemble on Sunday mornings and at other times for Divine Service and the prayer offices (Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer, etc.) and to listen to the voice of Jesus. The baptized, declared holy through faith in the shed blood of Christ, gather to be nourished, nurtured, and refreshed by the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament. God then sends us out from the assembly to continue his "business" in the world, dispersing into our various vocations to serve our neighbors as "masks of God."

Each local congregation also has a certain amount of temporal business that needs to be attended to in order to support the Gospel ministry that is carried on there. Bills need to be paid. Toilets need fixing. Light bulbs need changing. Lawns need to be mowed. Money needs to be counted. And so on and so forth. You get the picture. Sometimes these issues can conflict with preparing our hearts for worship. Most of us only see each other on Sunday mornings, so it may seem like a natural time to address particular items on the agenda. Unfortunately, this more often than not becomes a distraction, especially when you consider that we are already arriving with assorted hurts, pains, sorrows, anxieties, and brokenness. Keep that in mind before you decide to approach someone with a certain item of business on Sunday morning or at other times of worship. Bring it up later with that individual in a phone call or an email.

Granted, there are certainly some business matters that need to be attended to on Sunday mornings. Let's all make a concerted effort, however, to keep this to a minimum so that nothing distracts us from doing the real "business" of the Church ... to listen attentively and expectantly to the voice of the Shepherd and to receive in repentant faith all the good gifts he pours into our hearts and lives.

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