There are at least three ways in which we can be blessed. First, a blessing might be a windfall, or unexpected financial gain—especially in a time of need. A young, struggling family might receive a gift of money that helps alleviate some of their economic burden. Second, a blessing could come as a “salvation” experience, such as being cured of a serious illness like cancer. Third, a blessing might take the form of a person, such as a parent or teacher whose wisdom and experience enriches us over time.
As Christians, we would say that all of these blessings come from God, since God is the giver of all good things. But these are not the only or the greatest blessings that we receive from God. Financial assistance, renewed health, and the attainment of wisdom are all earthly blessings that serve us only in this life. God in Jesus Christ, however, has given us blessings that are for the life to come and last forever.
Here I am referring to the blessing of salvation, the forgiveness that God grants unworthy sinners so that they may enjoy eternal life now (the hope of salvation) as well as in the life to come. As it happens, the blessings of salvation in Jesus Christ come to us through our Sunday worship service or “liturgy”.
First of all, when God’s Word is proclaimed, we are made aware of our sin, brokenness, and unworthiness before God. In other words, God’s holy Word confronts us with the truth of our sin and brokenness, and it calls us to turn away from our sin and turn back to God in humble repentance. Most importantly, God’s Word—proclaimed in the Scripture readings and preached from the pulpit—announces God’s forgiving mercy. Those who repent of sin are assured that God will receive them into His presence such that they can live with Him forever as His very children.
Second, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper confirms the promises of the Word by giving us fellowship with the very One who died to take away our sins. When we eat the bread and drink the wine in faith, we receive the forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus Christ won for us by His suffering and death on the Cross. In a sense, the blessings announced by the Word are fulfilled in the Supper, which is why our service begins with the Word and then proceeds with the Supper.
Thus the Sunday service blesses us through the Word and sacrament—the gifts that grant us joy and peace amid our earthly struggles, as well as the hope of eternal life with God. These are the greatest blessings of all because they meet our deepest needs and are ours forever. Thanks be to God!
Jeffrey A. Truscott is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He currently serves as Lecturer in Liturgy and Worship at Trinity Theological College, where he is also the Chaplain. He was a speaker at the Methodist School of Music’s Worship Symposium 2019.
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