One of the themes of Communion that I feel doesn’t get discussed very often is that of a apostleship. This is one I’ve been especially thinking of how to bring out more, without much success. I feel the Pentecost season is especially appropriate for a discussion of how to better make apostles, so ideas are most welcome.
The first half of the worship service is geared toward building better disciples. We gather to hear God’s Word and learn to be more like Him, as disciples should. The second half of the service, focusing on the sacrament, is where apostles are made. We come into the physical presence of God in His Body and Blood. We receive the blessings He offers for our own physical and spiritual wellbeing. However, those blessings aren’t meant to end with us. Having been brought into God’s presence and experienced His salvation first hand, we have an important message to bring to the sin-darkened world. Not just that God will save, but that He has saved, and we have seen it for ourselves.
The Nunc Dimittis captures this concept extremely well, “My own eyes have seen thy salvation…” But, the idea that there is an on-going responsibility that comes with the knowledge of God’s salvation doesn’t seem to translate into the life of the Church very often. Usually when a church talks about mission work, the discussion centers on how to get people within the four walls of the building and, hopefully, to become members. Really, the goal is much more specific. The goal of mission work, and of all Christian life, is to be in the presence of God, a return to that perfect relationship we once had in the garden. We talk to unbelievers about how God loves us and how He forgives. We tell the story of Christ who died and rose again. These are all true things and the Spirit is at work wherever the Word is active. Still, the Word isn’t meant to only be heard. The Word is meant to be seen, touched, smelled, and tasted. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good,” isn’t just a metaphor.
The goal of mission is to bring people back to the very fountain and source of God’s grace in this world: the person of Christ as found in His Body and Blood. Those who come to the table echo the words of Simeon as well as of the ten who told absent Thomas, “We have seen the Lord!” We are made apostles because we have seen the richness of God’s grace and glory in His presence. This is where we look forward to being every Sunday. Especially during the Pentecost season I want to explore this idea further. Are there ways we can bring this out further in the liturgy or the larger life of the church? Can we incorporate this in our discussion of mission? As Lutherans, we see the value in this gracious gift God has given us in the sacrament. We should take every opportunity to make it a part of every aspect of the church’s life.