Pastor Terry Goerz,
Redeemer Lutheran Church
With the current COVID-19 situation we are not able to hold our regular worship services. However, I am addressing this topic aside from our present situation and also from the point of view of a sacramental church.
Some feel they can meet all their needs as Christians by worshiping on a personal level at home. If we think of our worship service primarily as us giving to God, us worshiping God we are missing the most important reason for going to church!
Going to church isn’t primarily something we do; church is, first and foremost, something God does for us. We can never out give God and in each aspect of our worship service God is giving back to us. He is giving us His gifts.
Our worship services always include readings from the Bible, the Word of God. Among other things reading and hearing the word of God produces faith. So God matures our faith as we read and hear the word of God.
Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the Word of Christ.”
And we receive God’s word not just in our readings. Because so many of our songs are based on Scripture and include Scripture, God is working faith and strengthening us as Christians as we sing.
Our worship services include baptisms. In baptism, Jesus undoes that spiritual death we inherited from Adam and Eve, and in which we are all born in. In baptism, Jesus makes us spiritually alive by placing His Holy Spirit within us.
At the same time we, by faith, have the righteousness that Jesus possesses through His living a life without sin, credited to us. Receiving the Holy Spirit and the righteousness of Christ are tremendous gifts from God.
Each of our worship services includes a confession of sin. Commanded and authorized by Christ the pastor forgives all your sin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus said to the apostles in John 20:23 – “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
The office of the pastor is apostolic, so pastors are authorized to forgive sin, in Jesus’ name.
1 John 1:8-9 reads, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Since we have a sinful nature we continue to sin. Through God’s absolution pronounced by the pastor that righteousness of Christ we received in baptism is renewed again and again. We are made as if we had never sinned. Another great gift we receive in our worship service.
Then there are the great gifts we receive from God through the sacrament of Holy Communion. We receive the true body and blood of Christ in this sacrament.
For us, communion is a sacrament, not just a remembrance of Christ and declaration of Christ’s death. In a sacrament we do something natural while God does something supernatural. In this sacrament we eat and drink bread and wine. God gives us the true body and blood of Christ in with and under the bread and wine. And through this sacrament we receive forgiveness of sin, even sin we may not remember or be aware of.
Through this sacrament we also receive life and salvation, for where there is forgiveness of sin there is life and salvation.
Through this sacrament we also “remain in Christ”. John 6: 53–56 reads “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in me, and I in him.’”
A word study on “remain in me and I in him” from John 14–16 teaches us that these words are referring to God working sanctification in us. Through the Holy Spirit working sanctification in us we become more and more Christ-like. So Holy Communion works many gifts from God to us.
At the end of each service the members of the congregation are blessed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is a blessing that God gave to Aaron. Numbers 6: 22–27 reads “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.’ So they will put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’”
So this blessing is another gift from God in our worship services.
We should all understand that when we come to worship we are not just worshiping God, but God is also giving us his gifts and blessings.
Worship is a two-way street, with God outgiving us. We can never out give God.
So why do we come to church? To worship God and to receive His gifts. Worship services are a two-way street. Us giving to God and God giving to us.
Next week: HP Bethel Baptist Pastor Keith Williams.