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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass part 59

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Psalm 111:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The remembrance of Christ is not the unprofitable celebration of a show, or something established for the sake of example, such as a play in memory of Hercules or Ulysses. Rather, it remembers the benefits of Christ and receives them by faith, so they may make us live. Accordingly, the psalmist says, “He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him” (Psa 111:4–5). This means that the will and the mercy of God should be discerned in the ceremony. The faith that apprehends mercy makes alive. This is the principal use of the Sacrament, through which it is apparent that terrified consciences are those fit for the Sacrament, and how they ought to use it.

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is not effective because of motions and rituals. We are not accomplishing something because we have acted out a tragedy. We are remembering that it is Christ who has acted. In this remembering, we recall what God can never forget. We are remembering that he has promised to remember us. In this Holy Communion, we see God’s mercy—that he loves and forgives sinners like us. We also discern his will—that he would have us make use of this holy food and drink, that he himself has provided for those who fear, love, and trust him. The Father has bequeathed his own Son as a perpetual remembrance of his love to sinners who thankfully receive.

Prayer: Gracious and merciful Lord, I give you thanks for your unfaltering love. Amen.

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