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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Church – part 29

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1 Corinthians 2:1-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 29

Before the Council of Nicaea, some observed Easter at one time while others at another time. This lack of uniformity did no injury to faith. A plan was then adopted by which our Passover did not fall at the same time as the Jewish Passover. Because the apostles had commanded the churches to observe the Passover with the brethren who had been converted from Judaism, after the Council of Nicaea certain nations tenaciously held to the custom of observing the Jewish time. But as the words of the decree testify, the apostles did not wish to impose necessity upon the churches. No one should be troubled if the date of Easter is not computed correctly. The words of the decree survive in Epiphanius. “Do not calculate, but celebrate it whenever your brethren of the circumcision do. Celebrate it with them at the same time, and even though they may have erred, let not this be a care to you.” Epiphanius writes that these are the words of the apostles presented in a decree concerning Easter. The perceptive reader will easily determine that the apostles wished to free the people from the foolish idea of observing a fixed time, since they tell them to not be troubled even if a mistake is made in the calculation.

Pulling It Together

We may well suppose that if two Lutheran churches in the same county celebrated Easter on different Sundays that people would have something to say. Yet if those people were visiting a Greek Orthodox Church, they would understand easily enough the different date of Easter. Their celebration of Christmas a few weeks later does no harm to faith either. The real point, after all, is the remembrance of the Lord’s birth and resurrection, not the dates of those events. We understand and find no fault with fellow Christians who use a different calendar. One wonders then, if there need be no uniformity when it comes to the dates of Easter and Christmas, why must there be uniformity in other matters? Does faith really depend upon using a particular lectionary? I heard of a pastor who used the wrong week’s readings during a midweek Advent service. It was an honest mistake and no one even knew that they were the wrong readings. Faith survived. So, let no one trouble you if they require a particular date for a feast day, a specific lectionary, a special translation of the Bible, common or individual communion cup, or the jot and tittle of the rubrics in the service book. But let it trouble you deeply if they do not insist upon Christ. 

Prayer: Teach me the power of your cross, Lord. Amen.

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When we speak of the "Great Commission," we usually think of Jesus' words at the end of Matthew's Gospel. But there are actually several places in the New Testament that describe the commission we have been given to speak and act, bearing witness to the truth of the gospel message. All these biblical articulations convey the same charge and calling, but each adds something important to our appreciation and understanding of the mission to which we have been called.

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