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Why go to church? Why go to work?

December 18, 2010

These are big questions.  I’m no longer a pastor.  I’m now a first year law student.   The doctrine of vocation has become the subject of much study and interest for me in the last two years.   This morning I read an article by John T. Pless titled, “Vocation: Fruit of the Liturgy” in which he wrote:

In one’s vocation there is a cross…. The cross of one’s vocation drives the baptized back to Christ as he enlivens us with his body and blood…. The Christian life go[es] on between the two poles of the forgiveness of sins and our calling….

God’s holy people live an embattled existence in their various callings in the world.  They are ever in need of comfort and refreshment.  Therefore the royal priesthood is constantly drawn back to the Divine Service to receive forgiveness of sins over and over again until the day when our baptism will be completed in the resurrection of the body and our earthly callings will be fulfilled in the eternal sabbath of the heavenly kingdom.

If you can’t tell from the above quotation, I’m also a Lutheran now.  Lutherans seem to think differently than the rest of American evangelicalism about why we go to church.   In Lutheran liturgy lingo, the “Divine Service” is all about God serving us.  We come to church to receive grace through sermon and sacrament.

Faith is receiving and love is giving.  We come to church to receive by faith, and then we go out into the world to love our neighbor through our vocation.    Our vocation is not to build the church.   That’s God’s job.   Our vocation is more than just what we do for a paycheck.   Our vocation includes being a parent, or a spouse, or a son or daughter, or a neighbor, or a citizen.   Luther didn’t do away with the idea of sacrifice, he just took it out of the mass and sent it out into the world.  Luther was missional before missional was cool.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    December 18, 2010 9:17 pm

    Ya, know. I’m not sure about this quote in that it seems to emphasize forgiveness of sins over and over again. Although I understand that we sin continuously and we need to bring our hearts before God continuously and be brought into the peace of forgiveness, we are forgiven once and for all. This quote doesn’t seem to communicate that. Description of vocation seems good, but I like the way you describe it better than the quote.

  2. December 18, 2010 9:23 pm

    How ’bout this Jedispeak? You’re forgiven once and for all, but you receive it over and over again.

    • Erin permalink
      December 18, 2010 10:32 pm

      Now we’ve got lutheranism, evangelicalism, and the force all playing games with my brain. Wow, my spellcheck isn’t happy with me unless I capitalize lutheranism. Not ganna do it. Whoo, so, as to Jedispeak, are you saying, I don’t need to understand the difference between once and again and again? (as in, “you don’t need any identification”) Are you trying to pacify my brain with the force?

      • December 19, 2010 12:54 am

        sounds like you’re into the wine. :-)

        Seriously, it’s not just Jedispeak. There’s nothing remotely close to unorthodox here. It’s just the difference b/w redemption accomplished and applied. It’s accomplished once for all on the cross, it’s applied again and again by the Holy Spirit. I’ve said that for years.

        But just to really bake your noodle (Matrix Oraclespeak) the Lutherans say it like this, “Salvation’s accomplishment on Calvary and its delivery at font, pulpit, and altar are the work of God.”

  3. amullenix permalink
    December 19, 2010 8:04 pm

    Gene Edward Veith is really good on the doctrine of vocation, particularly here:

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