28 November 2011

Random Thoughts from Last Sunday's Bible Class

Sometime Seminarian, John Klinger (tech guru extraordinare) is leading our Bible Class through the Walther movie (of which he was producer).  It's been a fascinating study.

The question of "church" obviously weighed hugely on the early Saxon colony as things fell rapidly apart.  Which drove Walther to read the Scriptures and to read Luther and to the great and joyous "aha" about 2 or 3 who are gathered in the Lord's name having Jesus in their midst (Matthew 18) and with Him, all that is His.

Luther's insight into the priesthood of the baptized was precisely that:  EVERYTHING that the Father has given to the Son, the Son has in great love given to His Bride, the Church.  Which means that the treasures of the Holy Spirit, of the divine Word, of Baptism, of the Eucharist, of the Absolution, the preaching of the Gospel, the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, the joys of intercession - all these belong to EACH baptized Christian.  They are theirs!

And yet because they are OURS, not MINE, it would be presumptuous for any single Christian to take upon himself to administer the common property of the Christian people without being asked to do so by the Christian people.  So in every congregation, in every 2 or 3 or 30 or 300 or 3000 gathered in the holy name, that is, baptized into Christ, the full authority to FILL the office of the ministry resides.

So when in following the directives of Scripture regarding who may and who may not be placed into that office, the congregation in prayer to God and in reliance on His promises, calls a man to fill that office, that is a divine, certain, rock solid act.  As Luther said "it is God who makes ministers."  It is God's act through the congregation that possesses by virtue of their Baptism into Christ all the riches of Christ Himself (as St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians:  "All things are yours!").

The Word and Sacraments belong, then, to the entire people of God; they never have been and never will be the possessions of the pastors alone.  Pastors, in fact, possess them in no other way than anyone else:  only by Baptism into Christ.  It is a beautiful and joyous "aha" to remember that pastors handle the holy things in the midst of the holy ones as servants of God and stewards of the divine mysteries - that Christ has set them there to serve His people these priceless gifts that He has given to the whole baptized priesthood!

This was a great part of Walther's "aha" that enabled the Saxon colony to survive and more than survive - to thrive in the embrace of the Savior's love, living from the certainty of His giving.  A ministry set neither above nor beneath, but solidly within the Christian congregation.

No comments: