Sunday, September 5, 2010

FW: Sasse on Prayer and Repentance

From the blog of the new LCMS President…


Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Sunday, September 05, 2010 7:57 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Sasse on Prayer and Repentance


The great danger of the church of all ages is that she preaches repentance to the world and at the same time becomes a castaway, because she forgets that all true repentance must begin at the house of God, with the repentance of the church. Here too there is no difference between the Catholic Churches which from principle do not repent and the evangelical churches whcih do not repent in practice. We are so accustomed to seeing church politics hold primacy in the church that we erroneously expect that a change in church politics must bring forth a new day in history.


But if we have such expectations, then we should learn from church history that up to now every new day in the Church of Christ has begun with a movement of repentance. Christianity itself once entered world history as a mighty movement of repentance. It was as a movement of repentance that in antiquity it conquered the ancient world and then in modern times (the so-called "Great Contrition") the people of our day. And when at Constantine's time the masses began to stream into the church for more or less external reasons, the cloisters became the centers of repentance. Every new epoch in the Middle Ages began with a movement of repentance, and the Reformation with Luther's first thesis and the saving message of the justification of the sinner through faith alone, is the greatest example in the history of the church for this truth.


At that time people didn't yet believe that the world could be renewed by world conferences. We believe that by conferences and organizations, by pronouncements and radio speeches we can spare ourselves the bitter way of sorrows of contrition and repentance,—until God's mighty hand one day will also crush those means and teach us that the church lives by the Means of Grace, by nothing else, and that her life is expressed solely and only in this that she becomes a praying church again, as she was in the days of the apostles. Then it was said of her: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in the prayers" (Acts 2:42). "And fear came upon every soul" is said of this praying congregation.


Fear has not come upon one single soul because of Amsterdam, Bethel, and Leipzig, because of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, the EKiD and the VELKD, and not because of the college of cardinals either. For only the praying church which moves heaven and earth with her prayer, even when outwardly she has to go down in defeat in the process, could and might effect truly world-shaking changes in this century. The praying church, which we do not want to confound with the church of liturgical scholars, is a power which shakes the social and political world of our century, because in her and in her alone He is present unto whom all power in heaven and earth is given. The life of the Lutheran Church in this century depends on whether she again will become a praying church in the sense of Luther and of the Lutheran Reformation.


Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors V, Ecclesia Orans.

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