Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where Does Preaching Belong?

In the Lutheran church, preaching comes after the Bible readings and before the Lord's Supper.  We visited a church once where the Lord's Supper comes first, with preaching afterward.  What difference does it make?

If preaching is about converting sinners (over and over and over again), then it belongs prior to the Supper.  I am called to repentance for my sin; Jesus' mercy is lavished upon me; this makes me able to receive His body rightly.

But if the Holy Communion comes first and then preaching, that's because they believe the Supper is to give you the power, the oomph, the motivation, to be Jesus' follower.  And the point of the sermon is to instruct you in your behavior.

So the difference is whether the sermon is seen as comfort or guidance. 

And that ultimately indicates whether we trust in the law or the gospel.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Clean and Holy

I used to think it was so unfair of God to have those rules about being clean and unclean.  How could the Jews ever keep those rules?  For example, touching a dead body rendered a person unclean ... but somebody had to prepare the body for burial.  How could God makes rules and expect us to keep them when the rules were unkeepable??

But that's not what holiness is about.  Holiness isn't about doing all the right things and keeping ourselves oh-so-pure.  It's about being contaminated as the helpless unclean one is served and helped and made clean.  Again and again, Jesus' miracles show Him getting dirty by touching the lepers and the ill and the bleeding and the dead. 

God sure does seem fond of oxymorons.