“Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:14).
Saint Paul wrote those words to the Corinthian church just as he was about to begin explaining the doctrine of Altar Fellowship, which when you really get down to the nuts and bolts of it, is all about the significance of what is happening in Holy Worship, namely, the Lord’s Supper.
I started this first announcement this way because Paul’s words just felt right. I want to urge you to flee from idolatrous things. You are sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I am communicating to you right now. Flee from idolatry. This is very short statement, easily understood by any and every Christian receiving this note.
This Sunday the holy church is celebrating All Saints’ Day. If you have plans to be somewhere else, or to do something else – change your plans. This time, instead of rearranging your schedule to accommodate idolatry, change your schedule to accommodate the forgiveness of sins delivered through Word and Sacrament. Skip those things that would conflict with chasing after that which gives to you all that Christ has won by virtue of His life, death, and resurrection for your forgiveness.
Go to church. Take a look in the mirror and recognize that you need to be there, not only because of your idolatrous tendencies—which is evidenced by your excuses and absence—but also because you belong there by virtue of your Baptism into the fellowship of Saints.
Know this—you won’t be alone in feeling a little uneasy if you’ve been away for a while and then suddenly reemerge. In fact, think of it this way. In the Confession at the beginning of the Divine Service, we drop to our knees as a whole congregation. We bow our heads. We close our eyes. We confess that all of us are members of the fellowship of sinful man in our thoughts, words, and deed; by the things we’ve done and the things we’ve left undone. We confess this together, and with that, I can affirm for you as a fellow sinner that there are plenty of reasons for everyone in the room to feel uneasy. You most certainly won’t be alone.
But know this, too – after all of the penitent voices speaking in solemn sadness go quiet, you will hear a solitary voice, and as its tones roll from the mouth of your pastor, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, it is to be for you as the Lord’s own voice announcing to you that you need not fear. You need not be uneasy. You need not be afraid. Through repentance and faith in the mercy of Christ, you belong with your Savior, Jesus. He loves you, forgives you, and lifts you to your feet to sing as much in the Introit appointed for the day: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.”
So, stop making excuses. Stop skipping church. Hear this Gospel imperative to repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Be moved to come and get from Christ what He has won for you – which is also the only thing that will sustain you in a world seeking to impose itself upon you.
In faith, you are a Saint. This Sunday is your Sunday—All Saints’ Day. Join your fellow believers. Be with your Redeemer!