By Graham Glover –
Next week the Church will celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ. The promised Messiah is born and the world will once again rejoice in the Good News that this birth brings. It is a day for celebration of the highest order, for God has come into our flesh, to bear our sin and be our Savior!
Fortunately, this celebration does not end on 25 December. Our Savior still lives, and His promises of forgiveness and eternal life are gifts offered to all those who trust in Him. For the faithful, these gifts are given to us by our Lord’s Holy Church in the Scriptures and Sacraments. You want Jesus? You want to continue to celebrate the miracle and joy of Christmas? Simply immerse yourself with these gifts. For only in them are we given the grace of the Christ Child born in Bethlehem. These gifts are quite literally, the gift that keeps on giving.
But where can the faithful find these gifts? Where can we regularly receive them?
For many Christians, the Word of God is regularly accessible to them. They can, if they choose, daily engage the Holy Scriptures through a variety of means. The Holy Sacraments however are typically only accessible to the faithful when services are offered on Sunday’s and if they are fortunate, on other feast days throughout the year. In other words, the gifts and graces of the sacraments are not as accessible to the faithful as is the Word of God. For those who confess the efficacy of these sacraments, this lack of availability is not acceptable.
The gifts of our Savior should be available to His faithful on a much more regular basis. In particular, the gift of our Lord’s Body and Blood should be offered on a daily basis.
It’s not necessary in this venue to articulate the benefits of the Mass. Since the majority of the readers of this blog are Lutheran, you are well versed in the importance of it (and yes, we rightly call it the Mass, Cf. the Book of Concord). We know that in the Mass the Word of God is proclaimed in readings and sermon, prayers are offered, songs are sung, and we are given an opportunity to come face to face with Christ. On this side of eternity, we will not come closer to Jesus than when we come on bended knee to His altar, receiving into our very mouths His Body and His Blood for the forgiveness of sins.
Why is it then that our churches only offer this gift once a week (some, only once or twice a month)? Why do we only give an opportunity to receive pardon and peace in corporate absolution when we gather for worship? Is the proclamation of God’s Word and the pastor’s explanation of it only something we ought to do for an hour on Sunday morning or perhaps another hour during some mid-week study? Ask yourself, is there anything more important the Church should do in her local congregations than offer these gifts on a daily basis? Don’t bother with the excuse of time. It’s lame and carries no merit. What could possibly be more deserving of our time? Nor is the excuse that people won’t come. For centuries they have been taught that regular reception of the Sacrament in the Holy Mass is something that doesn’t need to happen daily. Yet we sinners still sin daily. We still fall short of God’s glory daily. We still do those things our Lord commands us not to and fail to do those things He tells us to do. Every. Single. Day. We are nothing but unrighteous sinners in need of God’s grace, and yet our churches only deign fit to offer us this grace on Sunday.
I will celebrate with all of you next week the birth of Jesus. I will do so with you in spirit and in fellowship at His altar. My prayer is that this altar would be more readily available to me and to all who call on the Christ Child to be born.
It’s time. It’s time to celebrate the Mass daily. Even, and especially, for us Lutherans.