Lutherans ask, “What does this mean?” all the time. The question remains religiously and culturally relevant. But I’ve recently pinpointed something that bothers me. With the aid of the devil, we have actually found a way to talk about the means of grace apart from a) how to receive them, and b) the divine blessings and benefits they give.
For example, with all of the Bible-pointing individuals may do, why aren’t we bringing up the Holy Spirit more? Holy Ghost? Remember Him? Shouldn’t He be pretty indivisible from the benefits of Scripture? I mean, He is a pretty key and necessary Person/ character!
Maybe written materials for adults do a better job with that, though I doubt that it is as thorough a job as it should be. (Admittedly it really bugs me that we aren’t teaching the Holy Spirit better in Sunday school, for instance. Of course, I also get frustrated that the Trinity can be taught so poorly. Pardon me if I skip the apple metaphor, since God is not in any way like an apple—Am I wrong?!)
Emphasizing church rather than Jesus is wrong. Attendance doesn’t save. At the same time, emphasizing the Bible as lessons can be an incomplete witness when that very Bible emphasizes the Spirit of God, the body of Christ, gathering together, the Prayers, etc.
We shouldn’t wonder why people attend service less and less. We regretfully teach them to do so. Too often we
- Oversimplify what should be taught for all ages,
- Belittle Scripture as Spirit-filled, life-giving nourishment, and
- Separate baptism, the Lord’s Supper, absolution, church attendance and Scripture reading from what we need most: the Triune God in active, offered, applied mercy.
Lutherans are TRINITARIANS! Let’s act like it! Let’s use our words! We have so much we can say about the Holy Spirit, the means of grace, the Christocentric nature of the Gospel, etc.
If you happen to write with explicitly religious elements, can you do the world a favor? Be Trinitarian. Don’t be Mormon about “Father God.” Be neither desperate nor neglectful toward the Holy Spirit. Let Father, Son, and Holy Spirit speak and work together, acknowledged, in gracious love toward us for the sake of Christ and His cross.
In other words: let the means retain their true meanings and breadth. And, as it so happens, there is extra church available in the near future so let’s receive it as the divine gift and means it is.