A Reading from the Book of Concord 1 year series March 9, 2011 - Ash Wednesday
The following reading from the CONCORDIA edition of the Book of Concord is for the Gospel, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 for the Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011.
It is from Large Catechism, The Sacrament of the Altar.
Fasting is not a work of righteousness to be witnessed by men but a penitential reverence for the Word of God as the one teaching needful—the very bread of life. So if we fast, we do so to prepare and present ourselves to the Lord as empty vessels ready to receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.
. . . 37 Fasting, prayer, and other such things may indeed be outward preparations and discipline for children, so that the body may keep and bring itself modestly and reverently to receive Christ's body and blood. Yet the body cannot seize and make its own what is given in and with the Sacrament. This is done by the faith in the heart, which discerns this treasure and desires it. . . . 39 . . . since we now have the true understanding and doctrine of the Sacrament, there is also need for some admonition and encouragement. . . . 40 For we see that people seem weary and lazy about receiving the Sacrament. A great multitude hears the Gospel. Yet . . . they go one, two, three years, or even longer without the Sacrament. They act as though they were such strong Christians that they have no need of it. 41 Some allow themselves to be hindered and held up by the excuse that we have taught that no one should approach the Sacrament except those who feel hunger and thirst, which drive them to it. Some pretend that it is a matter of liberty and not necessary. They pretend that it is enough to believe without it. For the most part, they go so far astray that they become quite brutish and finally despise both the Sacrament and God's Word. 42 Now, it is true, as we have said, that no one should by any means be forced or compelled to go to the Sacrament, lest we institute a new murdering of souls. Nevertheless, it must be known that people who deprive themselves of and withdraw from the Sacrament for such a long time are not to be considered Christians. For Christ has not instituted it to be treated as a show. Instead, He has commanded His Christians to eat it, drink it, and remember Him by it. 43 Indeed, those who are true Christians and value the Sacrament precious and holy will drive and move themselves to go to it. . . . For we know and feel how the devil always opposes this and every Christian exercise. He drives and deters people from them as much as he can.
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen