Awaken Hunger and Thirst for the Sacrament of the Altar!
Our task, dear brothers, is to stir our pastors and congregations up again and to practice that great “instruction” that Article XXIV of the Augsburg Confession requires of us. Let me, in conclusion, say a word about that.
Our first task is to celebrate the Sacrament of the Altar again and again quite seriously but also with the blessed joy of the first Christians (Acts 2:47). Moreover, we Lutherans have the great freedom that exists, as was already mentioned, in the celebration of the Roman Mass. It can take place in utter simplicity but also with the full splendor of the ancient liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, which Luther preserved and the Lutheran Church kept for two centuries with such great love as a priceless treasure.
That’s where the “instruction” comes in. Here we can learn from the liturgical movement of our time. On this point they are clearly right. Our people should know the meaning of the Gloria, the Preface, the Sanctus, the Benedictus and Hosanna, the Consecration as it is expounded in the Formula of Concord, the Agnus Dei, and the Communion. We can explain it to them in special lectures, but we can also do it in sermon and Bible class. So many texts emerge totally spontaneously: the great types of the Lord’s Supper in the Old Testament—Melchizedek, the sacrifice of Isaac, the Passover, manna, the miraculous feeding of Elijah exhausted to the dropping point in the wilderness. Then in the New Testament, besides the specific texts of the Lord’s Supper, there are all the parables and other sayings of the Lord that speak about the future messianic banquet, the Passion history together with the farewell discourses, the first church, the liturgical formulas in the epistles and in Revelation, everything that speaks of the church, and all texts about the high priestly and kingly office of Christ.
What totally new substance our confirmation instruction would receive if it again became sacramental instruction and the Fourth and Sixth Chief Parts did not just make up a more or less unrelated appendage. And don’t let anyone come up with the excuse that the children are not yet mature enough or that they would misunderstand it. Where that sort of thing is said, it may be assumed that the teacher is not yet mature enough. How one can say these things to children one can learn, with the necessary changes, from the Catholic instruction for First Communion. That is what we can do. The rest God must do: awaken the hunger and thirst for the Sacrament, which is always at the same time a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
Hermann Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors VI, The Lord’s Supper in the Lutheran Church