Today’s Reading: Introit for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity
We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. (From the Introit for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. Once again, we will go to the house of the Lord for worship. And it’s good for us to occasionally ask ourselves: Why do we do this? Why do we go to church? Do we go to stroke God’ s ego and tell Him how great He is? Do we go to church because God said we have to, and will be mad at us if we don’ t?
“We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.” That’s what the Old Testament saints thought about church. To be sure, God commanded them to go, and the psalms they sang were full of praise for God. But God is not insecure. Nor does He issue commands simply to burden His children with yet one more thing to do to appease Him. Instead, God’s faithful people knew that He only commanded that which was good for them. And when it came to praising God, well, they just couldn’t help it. Why? Because there, in the temple, they received the greatest gifts of all. There they meditated upon God’s steadfast love, remembered His mercies, and received that love again in the forgiveness of their sins. There in the temple they met with God and received His gift of forgiveness through the Old Testament sacrificial (sacramental) system.
When their weak flesh tried to convince them that they had better things to do, God’s command rebuked their flesh, and God’s promises motivated them to come in faith. And as they received the Gifts, they could not help but praise His holy Name.
Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day. Your flesh may offer up reasons not to go to church, but God’s command is there to curb the flesh, and His promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation remind you of the great blessings you will receive there. It’s really quite amazing and wonderful! God Himself shows up in every congregation where the Word of God is preached purely and His Sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. There, love and forgiveness are poured out upon God’s faithful people as they gather in His presence. And in receiving these Gifts, God’s people cannot help but thank and praise their gracious God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Open now thy gates of beauty; Zion let me enter there, Where my soul in joyful duty Waits for Him who answers prayer. Oh, how blessed is this place, Filled with solace, light, and grace! (“Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty” LSB 901, st.1)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.