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Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 2012

The Third Commandment
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

"Why can't I just worship God on my own? Do I have to go to church?" I am sure that you have heard these questions before (perhaps you've even asked them!). Where in the Bible does it say I have to go to church? What is the point? Is church really necessary?

The typical answer I hear to such questions is that we must go to church for the fellowship. God wants us to be with other Christians and Sunday morning at church is the best time and place to meet. This is a pretty good answer. In fact, the book of Hebrews exhorts us to not "give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25). Sound advice, indeed! Especially in a day and age where technology is doing everlhing it can to solate us from one another.

But there is more to it than that. Our gathering for church is not simply to be in a community with other Christians. Rather, it is to be in communion with the triune God as well as the community of believers (or, what we call in the creed, the communion of saints). The church is not a social club of religiously like- minded individuals who can come and go as they please. The church, properly speaking, are those sheep who hear their Shepherd's voice, as Luther once said. When we go to church, then, it is nothing more than the sheep gathering around the voice of their Shepherd to hear His Word and to be fed by Him. We must go to church to hear what Christ has to say!

But, can't I do this on my own? Can't I sit silently in my room or on a mountain top or in a golf cart on the 1 lth tee and wait to hear what the Lord has to say to me? I suppose you can, but recognize *nt you will be sitting there for a long time and you will not hear the Lord. At least, He has not promised to speak to you there. (And if you golf like I do, you probably don't want Him to hear you while at the course!)

In Acts, right after the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the church, the baptized gathered together and "devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). To be sure, they gathered together to be with others for fellowship, but that fellowship was centered around something, or better said, someone! They gathered around Jesus who came to them in Word and sacrament. The Word (the teachings of the apostles) have been handed down to us in the words of the holy Scriptures and are taught by our pastors. When Acts mentions the breaking of bread it is referring to the Sacrament of the Altar (holy communion). Upon gathering, hearing, and receiving the people of God prayed together. In the teaching they heard and received God's forgiveness. In breaking of bread they ate the very body and drank the blood of Christ himself for the forgiveness of their sins. For all of this, they gave thanks in prayer. All of this they did together.

So that is why we go to church. Church is where the Good Shepherd gathers His sheep together in order to speak to them, to feed them, and to hear their prayers. Do you have to go? Of course! There is no better place to be!

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email