Wednesday, September 10, 2014
What Would Jesus Do? Seriously.
The out-of-fashion (thank God!) question arising from the gray matter of gimmick-driven protestants does not pertain to daily life, so much. It appears that the Lord Jesus would pay His taxes; but whether He would cheer for the Tigers over the Royals is not so evident. He might lend support to St. Louis over Milwaukee in matters of Confessional interpretation, but ... sticking to baseball, for the moment ... this presumption is complicated by His predilections for the productions of brewers over those of cardinals. He was perceived as an imbiber, and was more into towel-wrapped servanthood than displays of pomp, although even on earth He accepted prostrations and genuflection without protest. Riding a colt, the foal of an ass, was more His thing than a chariot or a Lear jet. I can easily picture Him taking the subway in NYC, rather than a bullet-proof stretch limo, if God's time had not been destined to be fulfilled when Caesar Augustus was boss of a Sea and parts North. But His ways are not our ways, which would certainly have made for a jaw-dropper or two, had our own age been chosen to first host the Incarnation event.
The question above is, however, applicable to the current worship wars of the Lutherans, because here we have a definitive answer from Scripture.
What Jesus did, in engaging the groundlings made of ground, was to heartily insist that "The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye and believe the Gospel (Mk 1:15; AV)."
What should Lutheran worship resound with? With this: The time is fulfilled. Lord Jesus has risen and has ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, which is not a limited locale, for He fills heaven and earth and indeed, holds the cosmos together. He is no longer in a state of humiliation. But He has also promised to be with us, verily present where "two or three are gathered in [His] Name (i.e., the Invocation is more than a cheery greeting from the minister of the day!) . He has promised to be with us in His flesh and blood, for the forgiveness of sins. The Lord is the Kingdom of God. He is truly and miraculously at hand. He dwells inside us, in an astoundingly intimate communion, by and the through the means of the blessed Eucharist. Our eyes are opened to this in an Emmaus way, in the "breaking of the bread," which is first-century doctor-speak for the Holy Supper. And like our brethren of the early Church, we should "break the bread" at least weekly.
Because true Lutherans believe and confess that God is our graceful King (we belong to a Kingdom, right?) and is indeed present, the Lutherans give God the due respect, awe and glory which comes with His being a King. The form of Gottesdienst adoration and thanks is to be done "acceptably" (Heb 12:28; AV), which God tells us is a worship performed "with reverence and godly fear." Why? Because "our God is a consuming fire" i.e., a God of decency and of order, and not a god of the Dionysiac belly, from whence comes those unruly and naughty emotions (as Dr. Beaumont showed, years ago ... using that unfortunate Michilimackinac fur-trapper and stomach-holed Alexis St. Martin, as human guinea pig).
So save those unrestrained loin-cloth dances for outside the house of God, as St. David had the heart to do.
But in His holy Presence, inside His house (all of it, now, an unshaded Holy of Holies), it is far more natural, seemly and confessional to bend the knee towards what St. Paul describes as the mystery of God (Col. 2:2) ... of the fullness of God found crucified, in the flesh; of the fullness of God found in a manger, in the flesh; and the fullness of God, found in the Holy Supper, in the flesh. Yes, we should worship differently from the protestants, because we confess and believe differently. The Lutherans indeed have a different Spirit ... as blessed Dr. Luther stubbornly insisted upon, and which Karlstadt dismissed.
Finally, a confessing Lutheran worship should resound mightily. Not with a projection screen and praise-band trappings hiding the Altar, as I witnessed in Bloomington MN some years ago. But rather, with a hearty "Repent ye" ... which call drove the Church to come to its senses and to reform itself, in 1517 ... and a hearty "believe the Gospel," which comes to us both in the preaching and hearing of God's Word (which IS Christ), and the Sacrament (which IS His flesh and blood).
No need for speculation or for question marks! It's obvious. True Lutherans do, what Jesus did. They do, what the Word Himself preached and endorsed through example, to be precise.
Many "Lutherans" have of course decided "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" And so, beset with fears and concerns about the numbers in the pews, they depart from Wisdom and go their own way (cf. Jn 6:60,66) to be "spoiled" by the glitzy "rudiments of the world ... not in accordance with Christ" (Col 2:8; AV).
Lord Jesus, convert and restrain these poor souls. But do come quickly again, Lord, to rescue us; even as You do with every Gottesdienst.
Posted by Michael L. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D at 9:20 AM