The second baptismal promise and faith practice is “to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper.” This is near and dear to my heart because I am an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament. In my tradition, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), this means that I am set apart to preside over the preaching of the Gospel and to preside over the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. There’s a lot more to this calling, but at the center is the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.
However, to be ordained means nothing if there is not a regular gathering of those who are baptized into Christ. If there is no one to hear the word of God or to receive the Sacraments there is no need for me. This faith practice refers to the gathering of the people of God for worship. In other words, to promise to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper means one is part of a worshipping community and regularly gathers with other believers to glorify God and to be nurtured by God.
I’ve often said that one can believe in Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior and still not be a Christian. To be a Christian means to participate in a community of believers. You can’t be a Christian on your own. These statements sometimes get me into trouble with folks who think I am questioning their salvation. That’s above my pay grade! Instead, I’m talking about the Body of Christ and sanctification. I’m talking about being made holy through the community of believers after baptism.
When I first went to college, I decided that I didn’t need to go to worship anymore. My roommate and I planned to sleep in on Sundays, read the Sunday paper (she subscribed to the Springfield Sun) and mosey over to the dining hall for lunch. That lasted for one quarter. I missed worship. I missed receiving the Lord’s supper and hearing the Word proclaimed. I told my roommate that I was going to start attending Sunday Chapel on campus. I guess she missed worship too because she often came with me. I’m not sure I connected it with my baptismal promise at that point. It was just something I knew I needed.
Weaver Chapel at Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH
God’s grace, which is imbued in us in baptism, remains with us regardless of our choices. It best refreshes us when we are intentional about nurturing our relationship with God and other believers through Word and Sacrament. This then empowers us to carry out our vocations in the world.
How do you ensure that you are hearing the Word of God and sharing in the Lord’s Supper? Where do you go to do this? If you are unable to be with others, what opportunities do you have?
One response to “What does it mean? Part 3”
Thank you for this inspirational post Pastor. I believe in the need to be in a community of believers. We support each other, comfort each other and learn from each other.