22 September 2007

The Saints

What a pity that so many Lutherans seem to think "saints" talk is alien to their faith. Certainly can't square that with the Book of Concord (AC and Ap XXI)! Nor with Dr. Luther! How vibrant was Luther's grasp on this. In 1539 he wrote a stunning work that deserves more attention than it gets called *On the Councils and the Churches.* In this, he confesses:

"See that you exercise and confirm your faith, so that when you are troubled or when sin is besetting you, you go to the Sacrament and heartily desire it, and what it signifies, and do not doubt that it will be done unto you as the Sacrament declares, that Christ *and all His saints* will draw near to you with all their virtues, sufferings, and graces, to live, work, rest, suffer, and die with you, and be so fully yours that they have all things in common with you. If you are willing to practice this belief and confirm it, you will experience what a rich and joyful wedding-meal your God has prepared for you on the altar."

You see, if all who share the bread are one body in Christ, then the bread that is Christ's body unites us together as a whole: all the saints are there where Christ is. And so they constantly pray for us too. Dr. Luther again on the subject a few years earlier (1528, Sermon on John 17):

"For to everyone who believes through the word of the Apostles, the promise is given for Christ's sake and by the power of this prayer [John XVII], that he shall be one body and one loaf with all Christians; that what happens to him as a member for good or for ill, shall happen to the whole body for good or ill, and not only one or two saints, but all the prophets, martyrs, apostles, all Christians, both on earth and with God in Heaven, shall suffer and conquer with him, shall fight for him, help, protect, and save him, and shall undertake for him such a gracious exchange that they will all bear his sufferings, want, and afflictions and he partake of their blessings, comfort, and joy. What man could wish for a anything more blessed than to come into this fellowship or brotherhood and be made a member of this body, which is called Christendom? For can harm or injure a man who has this confidence, who knows that heaven and earth, and all the angels and the saints will cry to God when the smallest suffering befall him?"

Where Christ, there His saints. This is the confidence in which Christians live out their lives. When we gather for the Eucharist we know that the biggest part of the gathering is never seen. Hebrews 12 has opened our eyes. We need not ask them to intercede for us - they are already doing that. We can rejoice that together we form a single body and that all of us have our life only in Him who is the Lamb once slain.


Anonymous said...

That quote from Luther almost sounds like he's saying that the saints are present in the bread. ???


William Weedon said...

"Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." We tend to divide up what Christ joins together. Where His body (the flesh) there His body (the Church) and not some piece of either, but the whole. I think it was St. Irenaeus who said Ibi Christi, ubi ecclesia. "Where Christ, there the Church." That's the joyous "aha" that Luther holds together about the Body of Christ!

Chris said...


You're right, these Luther quotes ARE good :)