Just returned from Higher Things: Given in Nashville, TN. As usual, a great time…with lots of sweat! On the way down we spent the night at Rev. Kent Tibben’s house in Danville, IL, and on the way back we got to stay overnight in St. Louis at the seminary campus. This morning we enjoyed a quick tour of the campus with long time friend Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, and then headed to CPH Bookstore to spend money.
The theme of the conference this year was “Given.” We heard an excellent plenary presentation by Rev. David Kind on the Gifts given in the Liturgy. I was very pleased with the instruction given in this presentation on the liturgy. On the drive home I got to thinking to myself about the theme “Given,” Pastor Kind’s catechesis on the liturgy, and how it all relates to our daily life. Here are just a few thoughts before I go to bed.
In the liturgy, God gives himself to us. Word, Sacrament, blessing upon blessing. God gives himself to us. Having received these gifts, having received THE gift of God Himself, we move into our daily life where God gives us to our neighbor, and our neighbor to us. Luther speaks in such a way when he connects the Sacrament to our vocation. The Lord says, “This is my body, given for you.” And we in turn, say to our neighbor in our daily life, “This is my body, given for you.”
To all of you theologians reading this, I don’t expect you to say, “Wow! He has really stumbled onto something new!” Of course this isn’t new. We all learned this in the seminary. Dr. Nagel’s introduction to Lutheran Worship says virtually the same thing. This is intended for those who have not had the privilege of receiving such catechesis. Listening to the presentations and focusing, especially in the hymns that were sung, on the theme of “Given,” this was renewed in my mind this week and I am grateful for it. It is so simple: In the liturgy, God gives Himself to us; in our daily life, in our callings within home, church, work, and state God gives us to our neighbor, for his benefit, and he gives our neighbor to us, for our benefit. These vocations are the altars upon which we are sacrificed on behalf of our neighbor. In each case, whether in the liturgy, or in daily life, God is the giver. In the liturgy He himself is the gift. In daily life, we are the gifts to our husbands, wives, children, parents, etc.