Devotion and Prayer for Week of May 13, 2012

Meditation for the Week of May 13, 2012

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”      Acts 2:42

 

Do you ever wonder what you’re supposed to do as a Christian?  What is your life supposed to look like?  On what are you to focus?

I have never taken a formal survey, but my bet is that most Christians would answer that their lives should focus on doing “good.”  That’s not a bad answer.  Ephesians 2: 8-10 does tell us that we are saved by grace through faith on account of what Jesus has done and that we are also now God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Our lives, rather, our “new” lives in Christ are to be lives of service to others.

However, is that it?  Is there anything more?  There is.  The context of this verse is that of Pentecost and what we see is an explosion in the numbers who came to believe in Christ.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Apostles, the early church was underway.  The church, the gathering of God’s saints, was being formed that the gospel of Jesus might be preached to the four corners of the earth.  And on what does this fledgling church devote their attention?  Well, it wasn’t building programs, maintenance or potlucks.  It was worship.

The center for the life of an early Christian was the gathering of the saints in the fellowship of worship.  To put this in Lutheran terms, the center of their lives was the gathering of the saints around Word and Sacrament.

St. Luke (the author of Acts) is quite forceful in the words he uses here.  In fact, to say that they simply “devoted” themselves doesn’t quite catch it.  No, they “continually devoted themselves.”  Worship was who they were.  Their lives began and ended with worship.  Their lives began and ended with coming into the presence of God and being filled with his gifts as they learned from the apostle’s teachings and as they received the bread and the wine, that is, the body and blood of Jesus.

The early church saw these things as absolutely essential to their faith.  They weren’t something nice to do if you felt like it.  They weren’t something you did if you had time.  This was what you did as one redeemed by the blood of Christ.  This is what you did to have your faith nourished and strengthened that you might live every day for Jesus, who died that we might be forgiven; who died that we might be his people.

And, do you know what?  Nothing has changed.  God’s Word and his Sacraments are here for us today and serve exactly the same purpose.  These gifts are what ground us in our faith and continual devotion to them is what keeps our faith strong.  In these gifts God gives to us the fruits of Christ’s death and resurrection.  As we gather to hear his Word and to receive his body and blood, God’s plugs us in, so to speak, to the power source. In fact, they are the source for what permits us to do good.  As God’s Word and his Sacraments feed and nourish our faith, he enables us to do the good he would have us do; they empower us to serve one another.  To ignore worship would be a bit like unplugging a lamp and still expecting the light to glow.  It just doesn’t work.

Thankfully, though, through his church, Jesus makes these gifts readily available to his saints.  They are here for you and me every Sunday as he makes them readily available that we too might devote ourselves to the teachings of the apostle’s, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and prayer.

Our Weekly Prayer

Dear God, another month is almost over.  When this month began, I didn’t know all the things that would happen, but You knew, and You have brought me safely through.  Thank You for Your Word, which assures me of Your constant love toward me in Christ Jesus.  As I face the future I can trust in You, my God.  My times are in Your hand.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.