Showing items filed under “F: The Nave II: The Church ”

The Church Where One Hears the Word and Celebrates the Sacraments

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While we want to avoid a functional understanding of persons, at the same time what we most typically do says a lot about who we are. If you are a doctor, healing is connected to your being.  So one way the tradition has defined what the Church is has to do with what it most typically, most characteristically, does.

In the Lutheran Augsburg confession, the Church is where the ‘Gospel is truly taught and the Sacraments rightly administered.’  These two actions conform to the two parts of our Eucharistic service Sunday by Sunday, the liturgy of the Word and Sacrament.  We hear who Jesus Christ is, and so who God is, who we are, and where the world is headed.  That Word also serves as corrective and guide for all of our life. And then we see, hear, and indeed consume that Word in the Eucharist. These are the core actions that produce by grace our very identity as Church. They are not our own creations, though we need to interpret the Word and adapt the form of the sacrament, but are rather received by us from the tradition, and ultimately from Christ.

It is worth noting that Church as the place of the practices of Word and Sacrament is a way of dealing with our discouragement about the Church. Though we may fall short of our calling in many ways, these remain, and have the power to make Christ known.

Read the ‘Church’ and ‘Sacraments’ in our Catechism. Compare it to the Augsburg Confession and the relevant sections of our own 39 Articles (found in the back of the BCP).

The Church Missionary Creed

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No passage is more decisive for understanding the ekkesia (the assembly, for which we get the Spanish word ‘iglesia’) than the conclusion of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. In 28:16-20, the risen (and by Luke’s account, soon to be ascended) Jesus claims the authority which was a distinctive feature of His ministry and which is now established by the resurrection. For this was understood (Isaiah 2:1ff., Daniel 7, etc.) to be the time of the Gentiles, the time of the healing of the nations whose consummation we read of in Revelation  22:2. Jesus sends His disciples out to proclaim this event, and the reign it commences. The place is the whole world  (‘all nation’) that is God’s, the time the present until the ‘end of the age.’  The great change is that the Lord gives them the promise that He will be with them, a presence whose powerful signs are the Church, its teaching and baptism.  ‘Apostles’ are literally those sent on this comprehensive and enduring mission. The Church is the people of God understood to be under these orders and depending on this promise.  So the Church is inherently good-news impelled (‘evangelistic’) and sent (‘missionary’).  This is not to be understood in some generalized sense, but as a result of the horizon of prophetic expectation, the event of the resurrection of Jesus, and His authoritative commissioning of them.

There are direct implications of this. The Church is ‘catholic’, that is, for the ‘whole’ and so including every tribe or people or nation.  It is apostolic in the sense of sent with this specific and decisive news. And it has a truth-claim for all people and all times. The great event at the turning of the age has happened. All the world is to return, since it all is the Lord’s. The enemy, death, was one, and so it the victor.  The Church has a universal message, though how it is to be conveyed as the apostles fan out will vary, and will face many challenges.

Watch ‘the importance of Easter with C.S.Lewis’ by Rowan Williams.



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