Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy

People leave or become inactive in their congregation for many reasons. Some are prompted by an aggravation and the separation happens immediately. In far too many other cases the inactivity is gradual and often has nothing to do with a provocation, dissatisfaction, or sharp complaint. It truly is a case of drifting away, or in the traditional term “backsliding”. Suddenly the default habit is other than gathering with other worshipers around Word and Sacrament.

I think we are constantly tempted with distractions. So much vies for our attention. Especially in more prosperous times, recreation, toys, comforts, and pleasures consume an inordinate amount of our attention. And this all the more, when we feel stressed out to the max! We feel an entitlement to such diversions.

Distracted and sidetracked we can lose perspective, especially a timeless and eternal perspective.

The Reformer, Martin Luther, wrote in his prelude to the Small Catechism concerning those who were infrequent in coming to the Divine Service, especially in receiving Holy Communion:

Those who do not hold the sacrament in high esteem indicate that they have no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no dangers, no hell. That is, they believe they have none of these things, although they are up to their neck in them and belong to the devil twice over. On the other hand, they indicate that they need no grace, no life, no paradise, no heaven, no Christ, no God, nor any other good thing.

Now I believe that many who are inactive do not actually believe that they need no grace. It is just easy to lapse into living and acting like we don’t. We get complacent. We forget there is a cosmic battle that rages, and that the skirmishes are not just somewhere out there, but also deep within our own breasts.

God has a loving purpose for commanding: Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy…

Since You Asked…

Why is incense used in some churches?

The use of incense is not unique to Christianity or Judaism and is used in many of the world’s religions to enhance special times and places by sight and smell. In Christian worship incense is effectively used at the beginning of the Service of the Word and in preparing for receiving Holy Communion. The burning of incense is associated with the prayers of worship rising before God (cf. Psa 141:2; Rev 8:4). Good worship should engage all the human senses. In this connection it should be pointed out that the olfactory sense is perhaps the most sensitive of the five senses; it continues to function even during sleep. (Indebted to Aidan Kavanah in his “Elements of Rite”.)