Saturday, February 5, 2011

The main "Function" of the church

A friend of mine asked on his facebook what the main "function" of the Church was. Here is my response.

The main function? Why is everything about "function" - about action, about doing? Such an active question, such a post-industrialization question.

The Church hears. The Church receives blessings from her Lord. Asking what her main func...tion is ends up being akin to asking what the main function of a child being hugged in a warm embrace by her father is.

Let me expand upon this.

So often, in our American, Brandeisized culture, we are focused on our activity, making it ever more efficient and productive - do do do do do do do. That's how we think, that's how we view not only problems but even blessings and benefits. I've received a blessing - now I better go do something with it.



Why do we think that everything revolves around our activity - or to make it more Lutheran, Christ acting in and through us? Why does everything boil down to us being the actor, the one being used to act? It's true, it often happens that way -- but that isn't a "me" thing... that's a God thing.

Moreover - I'm not defined by what I do. The Church is not defined by what she does, what her function is. She is defined by what Christ has done for her - what she simply receives. Likewise, we are defined by what we have received from Christ -- we are the baptized.

Quit trying to do everything. Relax. Receive the gifts that comes from what God has done. Yes, we are active-- but we also receive.

In fact, I'd say our main "function", if you can even use that language, the main thing that defines us as the Church, as Christians, is that we receive. Let's quit turning our receiving of God's gifts into action.

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This stands out to me all the more because I am a pastor. I miss simply being able to receive. My call makes me active so others can receive. I rarely get to hear a sermon - I preach it. I rare simply receive the Supper - I administer it. I have been thrown into an active role.

To be honest, that is what I have come to crave most about vacations and time off -- those Sundays when I simply can go and hear a sermon, when I can simply receive the Lord's Body and Blood, and all the other concerns fall away.

This is not to say that I would stop being a pastor -- I have been called to preach and administer the sacraments... I know this - I couldn't stop for too long yet... I'd get cranky. But when I get vacation, that contrast stands out strongly, and I appreciate it.