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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
They say the Greek word leitourgia means sacrifice, and so they call the Mass a liturgy. Why do they omit the old name synaxis or “communion,” that shows that the Mass was formerly the communion of many? Still, let us speak of the word “liturgy.” This word does not signify a sacrifice, but rather the public ministry, and appropriately agrees with our position that a minister consecrates, then tenders the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as one minister who preaches, tenders the gospel to the people. Paul says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1), that is, of the Gospel and the Sacraments. “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).
Pulling It Together
Liturgy does not mean sacrifice. It never meant that in secular Greek and in biblical Greek it is a word related to the ministry of the Church. The term “liturgy” means a required, public service that is of benefit to others. So, it is not relegated to the service of Holy Communion but instead, to the whole ministry of the Church, including the Lord’s Supper. As such, Holy Communion is a service or ministry of all God’s people, the communion of many saints. Worship is our required service to the Lord.
So, the question is: what is that required service? What should we render to the Lord for all his great blessings to us? There is but one thing we can do. We lift up the cup of salvation, calling upon the name of the Lord in great thanksgiving.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your many blessings. Amen.
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Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture andLuther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.