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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass – part 66

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Romans 12:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Thus the term leitourgia agrees aptly with the ministry. It is an old word, ordinarily employed in public civil administrations. To the Greeks, it meant “public duties” like taxes for the expense of equipping a fleet, or similar things. As Demosthenes’ speech Against Leptines shows, all of which is occupied with the discussion of public duties and immunities: “He will say that some unworthy men, having found an immunity, have withdrawn from public burdens.” This is how they spoke in the time of the Romans, as the rescript of Pertinax, “On the Law of Exemption” shows: “Even though the number of children does not liberate parents from all public duties.” The Commentary on Demosthenes’ Oration to Leptines states that leitourgia is a kind of tax: the expenses of the games, equipping vessels, attending to the gymnasia, and similar public obligations.

Paul use the word for a collection in 2 Corinthians 9:12. The taking of the collection supplies those things that are needed by the saints, and causes them to give more abundant thanks to God. In Philippians 2:25, he calls Epaphroditus a “minister to my needs,” where Paul certainly does not mean a sacrificer.

Pulling It Together: The sacrifice, or re-sacrifice, of Christ is not to be added to Holy Communion. It cannot be added, since it has already been accomplished. However, we may add our own sacrifice: the sacrifice of ourselves. Our sacrifice, such as faith, obedience, or other things, does not merit God’s forgiveness or our salvation. Yet sacrifice of self is the proper response to God’s mercy. It is “holy and acceptable to God,” but not as a work that earns us any standing with God. Rather, it is the reasonable response of those who have already been afforded such standing because of God’s mercy and grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your mercy in Christ and the work of your Spirit begun in my baptism and which you will finish on that Day. Amen.

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