Word and Sacrament (web exclusive story)

By Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1 ESV).

It seems wherever you go, you run into the phrase live, laugh, love. Sometimes the words are in a different order, but these three words seem popular.

In trying to determine the origin of this phrase, I found it goes anywhere from a Megan Lee YouTube video to a Clay Walker country song to a poem by Thoreau or Whittaker.

Some say Lutheranism is boring, stuffy, old-fashioned, staunch, formal, depressing, out of date, out of sync, out of style and out of touch. Is that true, do you think? Is Lutheranism something of the past? Did it have its glory days, and now were on to something bigger and better?

I beg to differ. I think Lutheranism is up with the times, current, in touch and connects with people in our day and time. Even as we may use words like Word and Sacrament, I think the phrase live, laugh, love is right where Lutheranism is!

One old Lutheran wrote this:
It is a great thing to have the Word and a piece of bread.

That old Lutheran was sitting around a table with his friends, laughing, when he said this. And, yet, isnt this what Lutheranism is all about? Talk about live! We live because of Gods Word in us, taking away our sins and promising to remove all the crud in our lives. Not only that, God gives us life in our daily bread as He gives us food to eat to keep our bodies moving and breathing every day. But bread reminds us of even more. It reminds us of the Bread of Life in Holy Communion, the very Body of Christ as He lives in and through us, taking away our sins and filling us with eternal life!

One old Lutheran wrote this:
For only the Word keeps a joyful conscience, a gracious God, and all of religion, since out of the Word, as from a spring flows our entire religion.

We live with real problems and struggles: floods that wash away our homes, fear of failing in front of our friends, bitterness with our spouse, wrestling with sexual identity, problems in our congregations–the list continues with everything that makes us sad and cry. Where, then, is the laughing?

Laughter comes from joy, and joy comes from the Word of God that declares us forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Joy comes from the Word of God, where God looks at our broken and beat-up lives and says, You are My own. This makes us laugh with overwhelming joy. How contemporary is that?

One old Lutheran wrote this:
There is nothing more beautiful in the eyes of God than a soul that loves to hear His Word.

There are truly many things to love in this world. We love our families, we love our country, we love a beautiful October afternoon, we love pizza, we love our favorite football team and we love pumpkin pie.

Do any of these compare to our love for Jesus Christ, who rescues us from this loveless world of deception and desertion? Jesus never turns His back on us. He always loves us. No greater love is there than Christ who laid down His life for us so that we may rise to eternal life.

This same Jesus gives us His Word, the Bible. This same Jesus gives us His flesh and blood in the Lords Supper. This same Jesus gives us the daily bath of the forgiveness of sins in Holy Baptism. We may love pizza or a good cup of coffee, but you and I know nothing in this world compares to Jesus Christ and our love for our precious Savior. Now were talking love!

This is the end of October and, to Lutherans, Oct. 31, 1517, is not out of date! This is the date in history when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Castle Church door in Germany. This was not an old-fashioned, wimpy move on Luthers part; this was contemporary and gutsy and cutting edge! This was the beginning of the Reformation when, in essence, Luther said, Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone–yes, Christ alone!

This man, Martin Luther, is the one old Lutheran mentioned above with still-relevant quotes that speak to the modern ear. Sin is still sin. People still are in the need of Gods full, free forgiveness. People still are looking for hope and meaning in this life. People still are looking to live, laugh and love.

Lutherans know where to find all three–in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

My fellow contemporary Lutherans: Happy Reformation! Our faith is not out of style. Its real, its active and it has no end. So, go ahead, live, laugh and love!

About the Author: The Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck is president of the LCMS North Dakota District.

Reprinted from the October North Dakota District edition of The Lutheran Witness. LCMS congregations may reprint for parish use. All other rights reserved.

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