Offering the means of grace…

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Scripture: 2 Chronicles 30:17 For there were many in the assembly (for the Passover meal) who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had to slaughter the passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to make it holy to the LORD. 18 For a multitude of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the passover otherwise than as prescribed. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “The good LORD pardon all 19 who set their hearts to seek God, the LORD the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” 20 The LORD heard Hezekiah, and healed the people.

Observation: For many generations the people of God had failed to observe the Passover meal, so they were out of practice and failed to follow the appropriate cleanliness rituals. This would have been a major no-no in earlier times. But recognizing the genuine desire of the people to worship and honor God, Hezekiah pleaded with God on their behalf. “The good Lord pardon all who set their hearts to seek God…”. V.20 tells us that God heard Hezekiah’s appeal and had mercy on them – despite their ritual uncleanliness.

Application: As was true in ancient times, there continue to be rules for the worship of God in the Christian church. In my Christian tradition, Lutheranism, the focal point of worship is holy communion (a.k.a. the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist). Communion is intended for baptized believers, but most weeks people come forward for communion whom I’ve never met. Are they baptized believers? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure many are, but some probably are not. What to do?

There are some churches in which the pastor must first grant worshippers permission before they can receive communion. This is a logical response to the desire to reserve communion for those prepared to receive it. But the church I lead has a more open policy. If someone comes forward to receive communion they will be given communion. No questions asked. Why? Because we trust that God has a soft spot for those who genuinely seek him – baptized or not.

Prayer: Gracious God give us grace that we might never deny those who honestly seek you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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