Interesting words from Lutheran minister Nadia Bolz-Webber:
I need to receive the Eucharist. I need to hear the gospel again and again and again, because I forget all of that. I think that’s what we do in Christian communities. We gather. We remind each other of who we are. We remind each other of God’s promises, and that’s what we proclaim.
I think people, especially liberals, conflate sin with low self-esteem. They’re like, “I don’t want to talk about sin anymore,” because [they’ve been told] sin is immorality. They’re like, “I’m tired of having someone tell me I’m immoral when I’m not.”
There’s very little to do with morality. Sometimes it intersects with morality — absolutely, no question. Being curved in on self can cause some really immoral things.
If you could actually manage to be a completely ethical and moral person, you would still be sinful. It doesn’t mean you’re bad. It just means that God is God and you are not, and that’s actually good news.
I once visited this woman who had a 6-month-old baby die. I spent the day with her. She had a pack of cigarettes next to her bed, and she didn’t have custody of her other four kids, and she was a drug addict. She spent the whole time going, “You know, this all happened because of this cop or this social worker who had it out for me.”
She had this totally external locus of control. I was so sad after I left, and it wasn’t because of the situation, which was sad; I was sad because I felt like she was never going to experience the exquisiteness of God’s grace, because she can’t confess. She needs it, but she can’t get to that place. She’s not going to have the freedom that comes from that, because she keeps going, “No, it’s this, it’s that.” Total denial.
My church always has a confession and absolution at the beginning of our liturgy. A lot of church planters want to jettison the confession, because they don’t want people to feel bad. I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s central to who we are.”
As I was greeting a woman who has been a long-time visitor, she said one of the reasons she comes to our church is because of the communion. The tradition that I’ve been a part of for nearly 15 years, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), places a lot of emphasis on communion…at least in theory. But like most anything, I think we forget the importance of this act, this act of having fellowship with a God that knows us completely, especially when we mess up, and still loves us.
We need this meal. We need to be reminded how we fall short and how God still loves and redeems us. While we don’t do confession and absolution, the Lord’s Supper is kind of that all in one.
I am reminded of my Lutheran seminary days where a professor said in a sermon that people want the gospel, they want to hear the good news. They don’t want tales of bunny rabbits, the want the gospel.
We need to hear that we are loved and forgiven by God and we need to see that in action through communion.
I need this. You need this. Don’t forget that.