Ash Wednesday: "Liturgical"
Week 2: "catholic"
Week 3: "evangelical"
Week 4: "orthodox"
Week 5: "confessional"
Week 6: "apostolic"
Holy Thursday: "Sacramental"
Good Friday: "Cruciform"
Easter Sunday: "The One Holy Church"
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Luther defined the Church this way: "a seven-year-old child knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd." In other words, the Church is the flock of God with the sheep and lambs listening to and led by the voice of Her Shepherd Jesus Christ. Similarly the Church is the body of Christ with Christ as its head leading it, guiding it, directing it. Thus, in order to be Church and be connected to Jesus Christians must gather together to hear Jesus. That is the Church: Jesus and His bride together.
That’s why you can’t be a Christian in isolation. A Christian is part of the flock. Together with the flock a Christian hears the voice of the Good Shepherd. Together with the rest of the Body Christ serves and makes decisions, like what to feed His Body, for the benefit of His Body. Thus, if you are not hearing and following the Good Shepherd with the flock, for reasons other than your undershepherd in a particular place is speaking falsehood in God’s name and refuses to be admonished and repent, then you are isolating self from the Church. You are not listening to Christ. You are amputating yourself off of Christ. You are sinning. The Church exists to be a refuge from world, hospital for sinners, place to receive medicine of life, to hear saviour, to be surgically reattached to Him.
But with a basic definition of the Church in place I want to talk about the marks of the Church. We start today on Ash Wednesday with the Church is “liturgical”. And there are three common definitions to that word that we need to understand.