The answer given to the farmer troubled about missing Sunday services (“Q&A,” September 2007) wisely avoids giving a general answer to a question that must be considered individually with each Christian struggling with the question of balancing work and worship. But the answer also fails to re-explain critical truths about how God works in the world, truths that each Christian needs to understand as he or she makes decisions in Christian freedom. Namely, God works through His Word; faith comes by hearing the Word faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ. To have the “Christbased” relationship with God necessary to make such decisions, one must remain in contact with Christ, through His Word and Sacraments. It is not enough to simply say, “Make your decision about worship attendance based on the freedom of the Gospel.” This farmer, and everyone dealing with similar questions, needs to be reminded that God wants His people to gather in His name regularly so that He can forgive their sins, remind them of the hope they have in Christ, and give them the strength for Christian living. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
Rev. David Warner
I took strong exception to the answer you gave to the farmer in the “Making Hay” Q&A in your September ’07 issue. In response to his question about whether it was better to “sit in church and think about hay, or to sit on a load of hay and think about the Lord,” your columnist cited Jesus’ censure of the Pharisees for being so strict in regard to not working on the Sabbath. This is well and good, but the question was not about whether or not it is right to work on Sunday. What the farmer actually asked was whether or not it was right to skip church in order to go work. To the misguided (but disturbingly prevalent) view that church attendance should take a backseat to one’s job, your answer should have been a resounding “no.”
As a member of a congregation full of farmers and a man who has done my share of hay-baling in my young life, I can honestly say that spending an hour in church on Sunday has never brought any of us to financial ruin. The same goes for virtually all other professions. Spending one or two hours per Sunday at church will make very little difference in regards to your job and income, but it can make all the difference in where you spend eternity. Let’s keep our priorities straight. Our Lord, indeed, said that the Sabbath is made for man but he also told us to love God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our strength. If you do love God, the least you can do is take one hour out the week to hear and meditate on His word. The other 167 hours give you plenty of time to do your job.
I take exception to Rev. David Warner’s comment in the November issue of The Lutheran Witness where he says “God wants His people to gather in His name regularly so that He can forgive their sins.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you have to go to church to have our sins forgiven; it is actually the opposite, where we should have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior to go to him directly through prayer and ask for forgiveness. His comment goes back to the Catholic church’s thinking that “you better not miss Mass, and you better go to confession” in order to have your sins forgiven.
Clayton H. Perry, San Antonio, TX
In response to advice about a farmer missing church for work, David Warner in a letter to the editors states the following: “…God wants His people to gather in His name regularly so He can forgive their sins ….” Even though this is out of context, I am compelled to comment on this single statement. Christ died once for all sins–past, present and future. When we come to faith we are forgiven all of our sins–past, present and future (appropriation). Warner’s statement strongly implies that unless a person attends church each week he is in danger of not having the sins forgiven that he committed since his last attendance. Nothing can be farther from the truth. While it is true we continue to sin, it is no longer counted against us as we are cleansed with the blood of Christ. Lest some think I am making an error of license, know that I am fully aware that grace and freedom in the gospel is never license. Too little room here to enlarge on that. There are a great many reasons to attend church regularly and Warner mentions a few others as well. With respect to the farmer’s original question, remember Christ also spoke in condemnation of the legalism the Pharisees had created around the Sabbath. Let’s not fall into the same trap.
Ponca City, Oklahoma
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