Hearing Scripture Aright
Christ Lutheran Church
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
June 24, 2019
The most basic theme of Scripture is the saving presence of God among his people. Any interpretation of Scripture that does not proceed from, and lead to this reality, misses the most important mark of all.
In the Old Testament God's enduring presence is manifested in Theophanies, appearances of God to his people such as the burning bush, the pillar of cloud etc.
But in these "last days" God's presence among us is by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2) who was "made man," dwelt among us (John 1:14), and still dwells among us in the Blessed Sacrament which is Christian liturgy. (Mt. 28:20)
These two - Liturgy and Eucharist - have no independent life. Thus we should not speak about "the liturgy" as if it were something abstract, and outside of ourselves; as though it were a man-made accessory that has an existence apart from our factual Holy Communion with God in Christ.
Liturgy is Eucharist and Eucharist is Liturgy.
To realize this is to hear Scripture differently than we do. The Lord's infancy narrative, for example, is not simply the story of Baby Jesus in Bethlehem but the solemn invitation for all men Jew and Gentile, King and Shepherd alike, to worship him at the manger of the altar in the Bethlehem of the church. The infancy narrative ceases, then, to be simply a story and becomes for the church the “Liturgy of the Lord’s Incarnation”. A liturgy God’s people pray for a season that is 12 days long in which the Eucharistic Christ is born among them, worshiped and received in the church which is Bethlehem indeed, “the house of bread.”
Nor are the resurrection narratives simply a matter of biography but the events reported there are believed, comprehended and fulfilled in the church's Eucharist as surely today, as then. As the Emmaus disciples, the Upper Room disciples, and the seaside disciples (John 21) met Jesus Eucharistically then, so today, last Sunday’s Eucharist being the latest continuation.
For what is the Eucharist still today except a factual encounter with the risen and exalted (not the dead) Jesus whose glorified flesh and blood we truly eat and drink. There is no closer union in this world between Christ and his Bride the church than this "comm(on)union" and so the search for God, for meaning and for glorious life ends at the altar.
And so Scripture is not an end in itself, but the beginning and basis of the church's worship and Fellowship with Christ, fully understood and rightly used only in the Eucharistic assembly of the Baptized. All other employments of Scripture being preparatory to, or derivative from this.
But the church looks forward to yet one more Theophany, the final and greatest of all, the return of Christ to judge the living and the dead. That will be earth’s finest hour, one which will live into eternity.