The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

God’s Word today

If you say “God’s Word today” most people think of the bible and they wouldn’t be wrong but the answer is not as complete as it should be. Lutherans don’t regard God’s Word as just words in a book, teachings and doctrines which are abstract and can be learnt (and ignored or followed) but rather as personal. You see, the Word was made flesh in Jesus and Jesus is the centre of the bible so when you’re encountering the bible you are en-countering Jesus personally. (Yes, it is very personal.) These words speak to us in two ways – either as Law or as Gospel. This is a Lutheran understanding. The Law drives us to see ourselves as we are (sinners in need of rescuing) and what God expects of the world and of his people. The Gospel comforts us with the news that Jesus has rescued us.

Back when Jesus was walking on earth the Word was visible in human flesh. Today God’s Word is visible through water (Baptism) and bread and wine (Holy Com-munion). These are personal ways that Jesus has told his followers to use so that people can be close to him here and now. These visible words – sacra-ments – are mysteries and seem so unspiritual, so ordinary, yet they are powerful and real en-counters with Jesus. The Lutheran Church has two sacraments – Baptism and Holy Communion – and teaches that they are God’s actions that have specific goals (creating and sustaining faith) so that people can stay close to Jesus in a sea of religious words and spiritual opinions.

— From Ascension’s brochure / pamphlet ‘All you ever wanted to know about the Lutheran Church (on one piece of paper)’