Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Skipping the Divine Service

I am convinced there's only one good reason to miss any Divine Service: you're sick (or otherwise unable to get to church). Travelling is not a good reason, since there's nearly always a church within some driving distance. Working is not a good reason, either, as man does not live by bread alone, and so many parishes offer midweek Divine Services.

So, every other reason a person might give for missing the Divine Service really exposes an underlying problem. If you willingly miss the Divine Service, it is either because you misunderstand the power of your sinful flesh (not to mention the devil and the world) and deny your need for forgiveness or because you do not believe that God delivers forgiveness in the service.

That's the point. God delivers forgiveness in particular means: the water of Holy Baptism, the word of the Gospel, the word of Holy Absolution, the bread and wine of Holy Communion. He does not deliver forgiveness apart from these means. That means, while sleeping in on a Sunday morning you may still feel forgiven, God has not promised to deliver forgiveness to you there. While getting some work done around the house on a Sunday morning, you may pray, God has not offered any of the means of His forgiveness there.

You don't go to church to pray to God, to praise Him, or to thank Him. You can do those things anywhere and anytime. You come to church to hear the proclamation of the Gospel and to eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus. Those things happen nowhere else.