Seeking and finding

The “communion notice” in our church bulletin last Sunday began with the following statement, which (as someone who has done his fair share of “running back and forth” in his time) I found deeply moving and comforting:

Christ has not left us to run back and forth throughout creation, searching here and there to find him. By his own promise, the Word made flesh still comes to us with his body and his blood in the Lord’s Supper.

That is one of the great comforts I’ve found in joining the Lutheran church: the clarity with which it says, “Here is a place where you can be sure Christ is present with you and for you; here is a place where you can end your restless searching for this or that spiritual experience; here is a place where Christ still comes to us in his Word and sacraments as he came to us in the flesh twenty centuries ago.”

The clarity with which it insists that attending church is not simply a pragmatic means of maintaining our faith through the help and support and example of other Christians (the idea behind the old “coal in the fire/coal out of the fire” analogy), but a place where we can be sure of finding Christ (or rather, being found by him) and hearing him tell us again that he loves us and has forgiven us.

Note that this isn’t saying we don’t find Christ elsewhere. For example, Kletos Sumboulos on the BHT (who is a psychologist and counsellor*) posted a wonderful prayer asking God to “grant us diligence and attention to our vocations” so that:

“…we may be Christ to our clients in our service as they are Christ to us in their need.

But sometimes our awareness of Christ being everywhere can end up feeling little different from Christ being nowhere. It is one of the great blessings of the gospel that Christ has given us particular places and times where he especially promises to be with us, and it is those times that enable us, perhaps, to see him present elsewhere in those who serve us and whom we serve.

(* Kletos: please correct me if I’ve got that wrong. Like everyone else, I get hopeless confused by the distinctions between psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry and all the rest of it…)

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This entry was posted in Augsburg Evangelicalism, Gospel and Sacrament, Lord's Supper, Lutheranism. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Seeking and finding

  1. Kletos Sumboulos says:

    John,

    As a lawyer, you may appreciate the following. In the U.S., the states own the title “Psychologist” and it is reserved for those who are licensed, eliminating the need to say “Licensed Psychologist.” On the other hand, because I have a Ph.D. in psychology, but have not finished my year of post-doctoral internship or taken the licensing exam, I am technically only allowed to call myself a “Post-Doctoral Psychology Resident” which is no fun at all. So professors of psychology are not actually psychologists, unless they are licensed or unless they are Social Psychologists, who have a legal exception to call themselves psychologists.

    Psychiatrist = Medical doctor who specializes in treating psychiatric disorders with medication (and only rarely with talk in actual practice – and when they do that are generally Freudian leaning).

    Psychologist = Ph.D. bearing (except for school psychologists which requires a masters degree) license holder specializing in treating psychological/psychiatric disorders with talk therapy (in a couple states there is a movement to give psychologists with special training the ability to prescribe psychotropic medications). Generally lean away from Freudian (psychoanalytic/psychodynamic) ways of thinking.

    Counseling and psychotherapy are used synonymously, however I prefer “counseling” because psychotherapist means “soul healer.”

    I’m glad that you think the prayer is worth repeating. We were having a difficult day yesterday here at rehab and a prayer break was overdue.

    – Kletos

  2. John H says:

    Kletos: thanks for, um, clarifying – if that’s the word. 🙂

  3. steve martin says:

    “That is one of the great comforts I’ve found in joining the Lutheran church: the clarity with which it says, “Here is a place where you can be sure Christ is present with you and for you; here is a place where you can end your restless searching for this or that spiritual experience; here is a place where Christ still comes to us in his Word and sacraments as he came to us in the flesh twenty centuries ago.”

    Nice one, John!

    You are so right. He still does come to us..and in the flesh!

    “This IS my body. This IS my blood.”

    What a shame more Christians don’t realize that fact.

    Thanks for one more great post pointing us in the right direction…to Christ!

    – Steve M.

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