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The Walls Are Always Falling Down

March 2, 2017

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you! Amen

Beloved in Christ,

It is important to know and to accept the fact that the church is always under attack; that that the walls are always falling down. This is so because the devil cannot tolerate the church at peace, or Christians growing in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18) The culture about us, which does the devil's bidding, has its marching orders: Tear down the church and destroy the faith of her people! Take away her hope, and her charity by whatever means necessary. Because we have such enemies the church is always losing her faith, her practice, her doctrine, her self-understanding and her reason for being. This cannot be helped, and it cannot be stopped, but it can be opposed. This why Scripture teaches us to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3), and to “fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

Because the walls are always falling down, the church can never say: we have arrived! All is well. Let us rest on our laurels. Let us eat, drink and be merry. It is true that Christ Lutheran Church has always prided itself in being true to the “traditional Lutheran faith.” But therein lies the problem: our pride. Along with our lack of knowledge because, sad to say, we little know what Lutheranism is.

Many Americans like to say that, if the founding fathers were to return to America today they wouldn’t recognize it. We might say the same of the Reformation Fathers, were they to return today.

Does that surprise you? It may, but it shouldn’t because historically Lutherans on the American continent never had the opportunity to get their feet on the ground. From the moment our forefathers stepped on American soil they were mightily influenced by a lethal combination of American Puritanism, and anti-Roman Catholic fervor. As a result Lutherans rarely practiced the true Lutheran faith, the faith of the church of the Reformation, and of the church of the ages. But that is little understood even today, even by many clergy, for alas, we too were poorly taught.

What is the proof? The chief evidence lies in the fact that most Lutheran churches still do not celebrate Holy Communion every Sunday. They fail to realize that the celebration of the Eucharist, by the baptized, is the very definition of Christian religion, Christian worship, and constitutes the practice of the Christian faith. We learn this from the words of our Lord when he says, “this cup IS the New Testament in my blood.” (1 Corinthians 11:25) This means that to participate in the Eucharist is the thing that constitutes and defines us as Christ’s holy people.

But why was this unknown for so long? And what changed? By God’s mercy the winds of a New Reformation are blowing across the LCMS. Lutherans throughout America are re-discovering what it means to be Lutheran. The proof for us is in the fact that Christ Lutheran Church was blessed to be affected by the New Reformation; so that she restored the weekly Eucharist in 2004.

That was a God-send! and our first step in recovering the historic Christian faith. For the Lord’s Supper, as we said above, is not a spiritual option, or decoration, that a church may decide to display on a given Sunday. But instead it is, and constitutes, Christian faith and Christian worship. It is the blessing from which all other blessings flow: forgiveness of sins, life, salvation, the power to fight sin and live a godly life, and to have comfort and consolation in all our sorrows.

All these good and perfect gifts (James 1:17) come from the altar. From the Sacrament of the Altar, that is, which bestows on us nothing less than factual fellowship with the crucified, risen and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. All that he is – all that he merited for us by his life, death and resurrection – is received by us “as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup;” (1 Corinthians 11:26) and there is nothing better than that on earth.

To be traditional or conservative, then, does not mean to be frozen in time. But rather to be faithful to Christ as he is known “in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35) To confess true doctrine. (Galatians 1:9). To worship the Father in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24) which is accomplished in holy communion. And to keep ourselves “unstained by the world.” (James 1:27).

There is so much, that is so little understood, but by God’s mercy, is being re-discovered, and so we should not despair. For as one of the church’s teachers has said, “we are forever catechumens, but not uninformed novices.” And so I ask you to consider this, and similar essays I will be writing in the coming weeks, and to learn what Lutherans are re-discovering: the historic practice of the Lutheran faith: the holy Christian faith.

God grant it! Amen.

Rev. Dean Kavouras, Pastor
Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio

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