Once upon a time it was commonly understood, because it had been routinely taught, that it was the Church alone where one could find Word and Sacrament. Now, Word and Sacrament were the alone means by which God fed His people Christ so as they would grow spiritually. In attending Word and Sacrament in the context of Worship, God conveyed His favor in a way in which He conveyed His favor in no other way at no other place. Thus to absent one’s self from attending the means of grace, (Word and Sacrament) would automatically mean the shriveling of one’s soul. As such, devout Reformed folk looked forward to the Lord’s Day because in attending Word and Sacraments they knew that would be nourished and refreshed unto eternal life. The Lord’s Day was thus seen as a festive day of rest wherein one was spiritually rejuvenated.
This thinking has been lost among our people for several reasons.
1.) Reformed Churches are just reflections of the larger cultural landscape and as such there is very little if any of Christ to be found in Word and Sacrament on the Lord’s Day in many Reformed Churches. Much of the Worship of the contemporary Church has been reduced to the level of a bad Neil Diamond concert as combined with a relevant talk.
You wouldn’t go to a restaurant to feast on dog food. Why go to Church to be offered up a false Christ?
2.) Our people have been convinced that religion is defined by the tingling of emotions. Where there is no Pentecostal pizzaz, there Christ is absent, is the current thinking.
3.) People opt for the ephemeral “spirituality” category rather than the doctrine that undergirds Word and Sacrament. One can be just as spiritual staying home and baking cookies as they can be by going to church and attending to Word and Sacrament.
4.) A good number of people don’t even think in terms of “what is and is not good for their souls.” Materialism dominates.
5.) People have never even heard of God giving Himself via preached Word and dispensed Sacrament. Most believe that God can be accessed in any number of ways. This is why “spirituality” is in while theology is out.
Until the doctrine of Word and Sacrament is restored the Church will continue to either languish or recreate itself into something that isn’t Church.