Offering our body and blood to our neighbor

Thanks to Steve Bauer, who, in commenting on our earlier post on the connection Luther saw between receiving Holy Communion and loving our neighbor, quoted this remarkable passage from A Sermon on Confession and the Lord’s Supper, in which Luther says that after we hear Christ’s words, “Take, eat, this is my body. . ..this is my blood,” we should turn to our neighbor and offer him our body and blood.  Read the passage, which is more eloquent than I can paraphrase, after the jump. [Read more...]

The Sacrament and the love of neighbor

Martin Luther, quoted from Bible Studies on Mercy – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod:

There your heart must go out in love and devotion and learn that this sacrament is a sacrament of love, and that love and service are given you and you again must render love and service to Christ and His needy ones. You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in His holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing: You must fight, work, pray and, if you cannot do more, have heartfelt sympathy. That is bearing in your turn the misfortune and adversity of Christ and His saints. . . . [Read more...]

“Greater love hath no man than this. . . .”

Another example of sacrificing yourself for your neighbor:

When Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Harris and Petty Officer 1st Class James Reyher descended to the murky depths of a pond at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., last year, virtually everything went wrong. Their equipment didn’t work right, the communication with sailors on the surface wasn’t clear, and debris trapped Reyher some 150 feet underwater in scuba gear.

But there’s more to the story. According to a report in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper on Sunday, Harris, 23, had the option to cut the line connecting him to Reyher underwater and survive. He refused to do it, though, doing everything in his power to free Reyher, 28, until both men died on Feb. 26, 2013. [Read more...]

Lent and Vocation

Daniel Siedell, in the course of discussing the Russian film The Passion of Andrei Rublev (1966), about an icon maker who returns to his craft when he helps a child, makes some important connections between Lent and Vocation.  (Notice too how Luther’s doctrine of vocation–with his focus on loving and serving the neighbor–is different from that of other theologies.)

Lent is an observance that reveals our weakness and failure in remarkable ways. Each year we vow to “keep” it better, each year we fail, often in unexpected ways—either in the mounting sense of pride we experience in our self-sufficiency, dedication, and discipline or in the despair that our failures somehow reveal God’s true assessment of us.

And so it is appropriate to consider vocation during this most sensitive time of the year, a time in which are reminded that we are unable to set aside those things that so easily ensnare us, like food, drink, Twitter, and sin. Lent reminds us that the Christian, as Martin Luther says, “lives not in himself, but in Christ and neighbor,” in Christ through faith and in the neighbor through love. Lent reminds us just how much we live in ourselves. And our work is one of the most explicit ways in which we do so. [Read more...]